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Toyota’s 20,000km Aussie road trip is over

Journey of discovery: The convoy made up of a range of Toyotas was designed to let engineers and executives experience a wide variety of roads to help them develop better cars.

Around-Australia trip ends with Toyota boss arriving for final fling in a turbo 86

17 Nov 2014

TOYOTA’S 20,000km around-Australia driving and training project has finished up with the company’s global boss flying in to complete the final stages of the trip and demonstrate his skills behind the wheel of a specially prepared 86.

Dubbed the Oh What a Feeling! Discovery Tour and made up of vehicles driven by 30 engineers and executives from the Toyota’s Japanese headquarters, the convoy set out from the Altona Plant in Melbourne on September 13.

The expedition headed northwest to Adelaide, then onto Perth, Broome, Alice Springs, Mount Isa, Rockhampton, Coffs Harbour and Sydney before arriving at Toyota’s head office in Port Melbourne 72 days later on November 17.

A range of cars were taken from Corollas to LandCruisers with the more off-road capable vehicles travelling the Oodnadatta Track in outback South Australia and the challenging Simpson Desert.

Toyota Motor Corporation global president and CEO Akio Toyoda jetted into Australia for the Coffs Harbour drive which took in part of the Wedding Bells state forest rally stage where he was able to show off his skills in the one-off Toyota 86-based all-wheel drive, turbo-charged GR86X.

Mr Toyoda said the driving project would assist Toyota in developing better cars.

“This challenge helps me deeply with my car-making intuition,” Mr Toyoda said.

“I believe that because we have passionate and committed people wanting to develop better cars, Toyota will be able to continuously develop cars that move and touch customers’ hearts.” Mr Toyoda said Australia was chosen for the driving project because of its wide range of roads which would allow Toyota engineers and executives to experience first-hand their cars on many different real-world surfaces.

“It was a perfect testing ground as Australian roads represent 80 per cent of the world’s driving conditions,” he said.

“Throughout the entire project, each and every member of the team was able to learn new things from listening to the cars and roads.

“In fact, after driving on so many roads, our team members’ expectations for future test-car courses will never be the same because of all the stark realities that they experienced.” On some of the days, up to five tyres had to be changed due to punctures, while the convoy also had to alter its route due to bushfires, Mr Toyoda said.

“Touring Australia reminded us that cars are vital partners in our lives. Any breakdown in the Outback has the potential to be fatal.

“I am confident that our engineers will use the knowledge they have gained on this drive to create ever-better cars for customers. We can't wait to share these new cars with you, and the lessons we have learned, in the near future,” he said.

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