The largest automaker in the world, Japan’s Toyota, chose an unlikely date to mark the official production start of the automobile they like to believe it marks “a turning point in automotive history.”
The birthday for the Mirai fuel-cell vehicle is now February 24, which coincides this year with the five-year anniversary of the sudden-acceleration recall crisis – a moment that made President Akio Toyoda an acquaintance of the US Congress investigation subcommittees and led the automaker lose numerous consumers that saw it as reliable and safe. Now, the founding-family scion is looking into the future, present at a Japanese plant to formally mark the roll out of the car that bears the Japanese word for “future.” “Every Feb. 24, we at Toyota take the opportunity to reflect on the recall crisis. For us, that date marks a new start,” Toyoda said today. While it’s rare for any company – no matter the sector – to bring back dreary memories and draw attention to a low point in their corporate history, Toyota seems to take even more steps in that direction – a February edition of an internal company magazine also highlighted the moment, also calling employees to serve the best interests of consumers and make sure quality has no other slips.
Toyota is using as a manufacturing facility the Motomachi plant – the same space that it used to produce the Lexus LFA supercar. For now, a team of 13 people will manually assemble just three cars each day without even using a conveyor, according to Mitsuyuki Suenaga, an assistant manager at the Motomachi factory.