President of Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) Akio Toyoda has been unanimously voted 2021 World Car Person of the Year by 93 World Car jurors from 28 countries. Also in contention for the prestigious honour were finalists Luc Donckerwolke (Chief Creative Officer, Hyundai Motor Group), Euisin Chung (Chairman, Hyundai Motor Group), Tomiko Takeuchi (Mazda's first-ever female chief engineer and programme manager of the MX-30) and Pratap Bose (Tata Motors' Vice President, Global Design, who is the first-ever Indian to be nominated in the competition).

The award celebrates individuals who have made significant contributions to the global automotive industry during each calendar year. Such contributions could include a significant impact to their brand or company or a significant safety, engineering, design or technical advancement. The World Car Person of the Year award is just one of six awards handed out annually by the World Car Awards.

On receiving the award, Toyoda said: “On behalf of all 360 000 Toyota Team members around the world, thank you for this tremendous honour. If you don’t mind, however, I would like to change this award from car ‘person’ of the year to car ‘people’ of the year… because it’s the collective effort of all our global employees, retailers and suppliers that have truly made Toyota what it is today.

“And I for one, couldn’t be a luckier… or a more grateful CEO. I would also like to thank and recognise the contributions of the entire automotive industry. At Toyota we are very fortunate that we were able to protect the employment of our team members during COVID and to continue our work to meet the future challenges of our industry.”

Locally, Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) has also been weathering the COVID-19 storm with great dexterity. In addition to affirming its multi-billion-rand investment to the local automotive industry, TSAM has also ensured that none of its salaried employees lost their jobs as a result of the global pandemic.

Toyoda added that: “As a company, we are dedicated to providing mobility for all… but we are equally committed to creating new ways to support the well-being of our planet and people everywhere. This has been a difficult period in the history of the world, but it has also reminded us that people are what matter the 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. Thank you again for this award…”

Toyota believes that mobility goes beyond cars, and it is about overcoming challenges and making dreams come true. Following the 2017 global launch of ‘Start Your Impossible’ – a global corporate initiative that is founded on supporting the creation of a more inclusive and sustainable society in which everyone can challenge their impossible – TSAM signed a three-year partnership with the South African Sports Association for the Physically Disabled (SASAPD). The Start Your ‘Impossible’ initiative reflects Toyota’s values and highlights the company's goal to provide freedom of mobility for all.