By on April 10, 2021


Selected 2021 World Car Awards Person of the Year was Akio Toyoda, Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) president and CEO.


“Akio Toyoda is the charismatic President and CEO of Toyota Motor Corporation. He has spent years successfully remaking his company. In 2020 despite COVID-19, under his leadership Toyota remained profitable, protecting jobs worldwide. He has maintained Toyota’s steady pace of development in the connected, autonomous, shared and electric (CASE) era. He has also initiated construction of the Woven City, an exciting, real-life prototype city of the future. All while actively participating in motorsports himself, as a driver,” said the World Car Awards in a statement.

Toyoda said, “At Toyota, we are very fortunate that we were able to protect the employment of our team members during COVID-19 and continue our work to meet the future challenge of our industry. Creating new ways to support the well-being of our planet and people everywhere is our commitment. This has been a difficult period in the history of the world. But it has also reminded us that people are what matters most. And if we at Toyota can contribute some measure of happiness to their lives, it will be my never-ending goal to do just that.”


Toyoda joined the company in 1984, after graduating with a law degree from Keio University. He also received a masters in business administration from Wellesley, Massachusetts’ Babson College. Toyoda served in different areas of the business in Japan and overseas, before becoming a member of the TMC board of directors in 2000. He held other senior and executive vice-presidential roles until becoming TMC president in 2009.

Toyoda The World Car Person of the Year award was established in 2018 to acknowledge the contributions made by an individual in the auto industry during the previous year. The World Car Awards program hands out six awards annually, which they started doing in 2003. A group of more than 90 journalists, none of whom are a part of, made the selection.

[Images: Toyota, Babson College]

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35 Comments on “Toyota’s Akio Toyoda Chosen 2021 World Car Person of the Year...”

  • avatar

    Last year Toyota became the world’s largest carmaker. They now sell 4 million more vehicles a year than GM. Unlike GM, Toyota has not cut back on production to venture into electric vehicles. It is hard to believe twenty years ago GM was still the world’s largest carmaker. Now GM finds itself in fifth place. GM sacrificed a lot of market share and sales in the pursuit of EVs. For their sake, let’s hope it was worth it!

    Fast fact:
    The Corolla is still the worlds best selling vehicle. Last year Toyota sold over 600,000 Corollas.

    • 0 avatar
      Peter Gazis

      The Ford F-150 is the worlds best selling vehicle. Last year Ford sold 787,000 Fseries pickups in the U.S. alone.

    • 0 avatar

      GM’s fall had a lot more to do with the jettisoning of its boat-anchor European operation than anything about EVs.

      • 0 avatar

        It cost them more than a million in sales. Not a smart move to leave the important European market. Electric cars are far more popular in Europe than in the US. As you can see it is a strange move for a company that thinks electric vehicles are the future. GM moves sometimes feel contradictory.

      • 0 avatar

        It cost them more than a million in sales. Not a smart move to leave the important European market. Electric cars are far more popular in Europe than in the US. As you can see it is a strange move for a company that thinks electric vehicles are the future. GM moves sometimes feel contradictory.

        • 0 avatar

          How it is not a smart move if Opel was never profitable last 10 years. PSA rebadged own platform as Opel and that is the secret why Opel become profitable. GM does not have car platform. Whatever it had was developed by Opel or Daewoo. Daewoo! Dead brand for reason.

    • 0 avatar

      akear, tell where Toyota is building their battery factory in the U.S.?

      GM leads the ICE to EV revolution in North America today.

  • avatar


    Toyoda-san’s name is spelled correctly in the article, but incorrectly in the headline. Your editor should’ve told you (but I’m embracing the new D-I-Y aspect of the site).


    TTAC Recommended Podcast:
    Sean Brady at the Brady Heywood podcast is a forensic engineer and discusses engineering failures and disasters.

    Suggested episode:

    TL;DR: An American with ego issues (and questionable management skills) causes problems for some Canadians. [VerticalScope are you paying attention?]

    • 0 avatar

      I guess the Speak/Spell feature got the upper hand and botched the spelling of Mr Toyoda in the article.

      The beginning of the 3rd paragraph reads:
      “ToyoTa joined the company in 1984…”

      I think it should read:
      “ToyoDa joined the company in 1984…”

      I’ve submitted a formal Correction request.
      We’ll see how long it takes.

  • avatar

    Dear Mr. Toyoda:

    I just want a V6 hybrid powertrain in a lighter-weight TNGA vehicle. That’s all.

    • 0 avatar

      Dear Mr Toyoda:

      Before we go all electric, all I want for Xmas 2025 is a SUV with:

      -plain Jane V6 engine (sorry, I suffer from turbo phobia)
      -traditional multi-speed automatic (6 is plenty, 8 if you insist. Also suffer from CVT phobia. If in doubt, just ask my sister about her Nissan)
      -spare tire (can be donut type, but something so I don’t have to call AAA)
      -boxy shape (you are allowed to look over the should of William Clay at the Bronco Sport for guidance)
      -dash board with actual knobs for A/C, radio, headlights, wipers, etc. I’ll defer to my nieces & nephews concerning the Info Entertainment system)
      -capacity to sling mud, snow, dirt & muck like the original Rav4 as opposed to the current model which feels more at home at the WalMart parking lot
      -Toyota reputation for reliability (this will be my 2nd Toyota, so I will feel like I’m returning to the fold)

      I await your reply!! :-}

      • 0 avatar

        Unless I’m missing something, the current 4Runner meets all of these requirements.

      • 0 avatar

        >>>>3 speed

        I agree.

        1 addition- No start stop. If not – start /stop defeat button.

        Please let it be so.

      • 0 avatar

        May I add to the above request:

        -traditional shift lever instead of a radio dial arrangement. I learned to drive with a stick shift, and I still have a tendency to keep my right hand on the shift lever, even if its an automatic.

        @dal20402. True, but want something small enough to fit under in my carport. A 4Runner is just too big, too heavy. Currently got a 2nd gen Escape with V6 and fits perfectly.

  • avatar

    Will Toyota stay on top for nearly a century like GM?

    • 0 avatar

      As long as boring, outdated and uninspiring remain top selling features, yes. I’ll comment myself to a convalescent, long term care facility before I buy one.

    • 0 avatar

      “Will Toyota stay on top for nearly a century like GM?”

      More relevant question is will Japan (and US) survive another century. US is already on the path of decline (or disintegration if you wish) and Japan has serious demographic issues.

      • 0 avatar

        I think US will exist. Only not in the current form. There will be less states in it for sure. But we definitely should start guessing the names of the future coalitions.

        • 0 avatar

          If the US implodes…well, the southwest will return to it’s “rightful owners” (those Hispanics living south of the Rio Grande have not forgotten..San Antonio, El Paso, San Diego, LA, up to San Francisco). Poetic justice for the current California politicians, both state and national

          Texas may not succumb to Mexico.

          The old Confederacy will become “The Constitutional States of America”..CSA! Sound familiar?

          The Washginton DC-Boston Corridor will become the “People’s United States of America Yankeee”, or PUSAY…

          The Northwest and Dakotas, worried about their fate, will join Western Canada (which resents Ontario-Quebec control, much like most European people resent the Germany-France dominance) and might find seek Sino-Russian support to preserve it’s freedom.

          And these these three entities, plus “Old Canada”, will use machinations and force to try to secure the wealth of the midwest, from Ohio to Iowa, and North.

          And Toyota will be the best selling new vehicle in all the teritories of the former US of A.

          • 0 avatar

            May be Mexico, Canada and Russia just divide USA between themselves. Russian will take Alaska and will be happy. Japan can have Hawaii. I wonder if England wants its colonies back.

    • 0 avatar

      McDonald’s still at the tip in burger sales? When was the last time you had one?

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Agree about the US on the path of decline and Japan’s population is aging because of a lower birth rate and restrictive immigration. My fear is that China will not only become the dominant economic power but it will become the dominant military power. China is investing more in EVs than any other country and is likely to eventually become a global leader in the manufacture of vehicles.

    As for Toyota staying on top it will likely stay on top for a long time but eventually they will be displaced by another manufacturer most likely Chinese. No one stays on top forever whether it is a corporation or a country.

    • 0 avatar

      China has the same demographic problems like Japan. So if they want to take over Taiwan they have to do it now while US is weak and in internal turmoil and US military is busy purging out Republican opponents from army. US army going through the same type of ideological purges and hollowing like Red Army before WWII.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        @ Inside Looking Out Sir, US military members take an oath to uphold and defend the constitution of the United States. The US Constitution; not the current president or party in power. Secondly, the is a law called the Hatch Act that expressly forbids expressing any political affiliation while in uniform or on duty. I’m pretty sure there’s someplace in St. Petersburg where you can research how the US Military and US political parties interact. BTW our last Republican president purged the credible retired generals out of his administration, not the other way around. Perhaps when you go back to being a gulag guard you’ll get a space heater for your guard shack.

      • 0 avatar

        The US certainly isn’t “Weak”. Do you watch a lot of Newsmax?

      • 0 avatar

        China has a massive strategic problem: it can’t decide whether it prefers leverage over the rest of the world, to make the Chinese nation richer, or over its own people, to ensure those in power stay in power. Lately it seems to be favoring the latter, with the result that it’s entering into ill-planned adventures abroad and stifling its own citizens’ creativity and economic development at home.

        Even Deng didn’t always get this balance right, and Xi ain’t no Deng; he’s far more insecure and needy.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    That picture is all that is wrong with Toyota. Even circling the drain Nissan did their own Z. If you believe the posters above, GM is circling the drain yet they pump out the C8 and the Hummer…2 vehicles that impress even my inner lifelong hater of all things GM.

    Toyota is lazy in these segments and while their stuff is always good, it isn’t quite so good as it once was. The 86 and the Supra had enough beancounters looking over their shoulder to keep them from being what they could have been. I’ve seen how that movie ends.

  • avatar

    Is this presented by the world hydrogen council – LOL. While secretly working with Tesla on a collaboration, he has made absurd comments about EVs, while lobbying the US govt. to relax emission standards. I loved my Previa and MR2, and Toyota has revolutionized rational manufacturing, but this award at this time is absurd. The last gasp of legacy?

    In the legacy awards I think 2 manufacturers deserve mention: VW and KIA/Hyundai – both are taking the plunge that all the companies will have to take. They have multiple EVs on the road, and they have more in the pipeline. But the winners IMO should be chosen from the truly brave: Tesla, Nio, Expev, BYD, Geely etc…

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Toyota has still managed to maintain most of their quality even if they are boring. All the manufacturers have been cost cutting the quality and yes so has Toyota but Toyota’s quality has not declined as much as GM, Ford, Nissan, and Stelantis. Timing chains and belts enclosed with water pumps are not Quality is Job 1. I will take boring and reliable over challenging and costly.

  • avatar

    Yeah nĕp′ə-tĭz″əm

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