With the launch of its Global Vision, Toyota marked its evolution from a trusted, high-quality automotive brand to one synonymous with innovation. Toyota aims to lead the future of mobility through product development, sustainability, and a focus on people. Its value is up 16 percent to USD $49 billion in this year’s Best Global Brands ranking—impressive, especially in the wake of a June airbag recall that affected nearly 1.4 million of its vehicles.
Toyota has long been at the forefront of environmental consciousness in the auto sector. In 1997, it released the Prius, its first mass-produced gas-electric hybrid car, and has since sold more than eight million hybrid vehicles, including 31 models across the brand’s range. In September 2015, Toyota unveiled a sportier fourth-generation Prius with standout features to meet the demands of contemporary, eco-conscious consumers: new automated and intelligent safety packages, a more comfortable and emotional design, and an increase in target fuel efficiency from 32.6 km/L to 40 km/L.
Looking toward the future of sustainable mobility, Toyota focuses on super-efficient clean energy. Its zero-emissions Mirai is the first hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle to top the 300-mile range. It’s also attempting to bring fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) to the broader market by granting royalty-free use of approximately 5,680 of its globally held FCV-related patent licenses, including pending applications.
To engage drivers, Toyota is tapping into their universal sense of adventure. Its global “Feeling the Street” campaign allowed people to vote on their favorite street musicians from around the world and follow six winners on a New Zealand road trip. It is also harnessing digital platforms and geo-targeting technologies to position its cars within the context of peoples’ lives. In the U.S., for example, Toyota targeted Los Angeles drivers with videos launched in the “Live Story” feature on Snapchat, and has partnered with Google to customize ads in 15,000 U.S. cities that inspire real-life, local adventures.
By embracing smart technologies, Toyota is also making strides to both connect and protect its customers. This year, it will introduce an Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) safety package to drivers in Japan. ITS enables the real-time exchange of data between vehicles and infrastructures, which sensors don’t pick up. Meanwhile, it’s partnering with Panasonic to become a forerunner in cloud-based connectivity. The Toyota Smart Center will link people, cars, and homes, and include features like GPS-enabled reminders to turn off your air conditioner. This year, Toyota also joined the autonomous driving race—with a focus on technology that makes driving safer—by funding new research centers at Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
As the largest automobile company in the world, Toyota’s pioneering initiatives could have a significant impact on the ways in which drivers experience their vehicles.