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Toyota Kicks Off Fifth Leg of the 5 Continents Drive Project to learn from Africa with the Goal of Making “Ever-better Cars”

In late August, Toyota will kick off the fifth leg of the 5 Continents Drive Project in Africa, the fourth continent in the project. Following Australia in 2014, the Americas in 2015 and 2016, and Europe in 2017, this year project members will head to Africa, which boasts the second largest surface area and population of any continent in the world. 

The Africa continent launch is set for Tanzania on August 27th from the Arusha Coffee Lodge in Arusha. 

In 2014, supporting Toyota Motor Corporations President Akio Toyoda’s vision of creating Ever-Better cars, Toyota embarked on a seven-year project of unparalleled scale: a continuous global initiative to put Toyota vehicles to the ultimate test, across every possible terrain and climate on every continent worldwide.

The Five Continents Drive has been introduced to help everyone at Toyota to deliver ever-better cars that excite our customers and exceed their expectations. It is a long-term project that has the power to unite all of 340,000 members of Toyota’s workforce around the world.

“Roads train people, and people make cars”; that ethos has been the backbone of the Five Continents Drive project. It is about enabling engineers to get out from behind their desks to feel the road, to experience first-hand how vehicle performance is impacted by the wide variety of driving conditions around the world, and to gather new insights. By connecting with customers in a meaningful way and listening to their feedback, Toyota can better understand their needs and patterns of vehicle use.

This time, members from Suzuki Motor Corporation, Hino Motors Ltd., and Toyota Auto Body Co., Ltd. will also join the project. By experiencing the unique culture, climate, and harsh conditions in which vehicles are used, the project seeks to enable participants to better understand customer needs, and to consider what sort of cars will be most suited to the Africa of tomorrow.

The 5 Continents drive Drive will then progress to Asia where the project will conclude in 2020 in Japan. That year will see Tokyo host the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Toyota is a TOP partner for the Games, providing sustainable mobility to the entire Olympic and Paralympic movement.

2018 Drive Project in Africa

DurationFrom end August to the beginning November.
RouteEastern and Southern Africa, two teams: Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and South Africa. Teams primarily comprising employees from local distributors are also scheduled to drive in other regions.
DistanceApproximately 15,000 km will be covered.

Commuter and daily use roads, unpaved roads, high-altitude mountain roads, safaris, deserts, and other road types unique to Africa.

VehiclesA focus on 4WD vehicles such as the “Land Cruiser,” “Hilux,” and “Fortuner.”
Team MembersA mixed team comprising approximately 80 employees from Toyota together with members from Suzuki Motor Corporation, Hino Motors Ltd and Toyota Auto Body Co. Ltd.

Message from Akio Toyoda (Toyota Motor Corporation President)

Our 5 Continents Drive Project was born from the idea that, “in order to make ever-better cars, we need to better understand the world’s roads.” Since the project commenced in 2014, 480 employees have driven for 350 days over 89,000 kilometers across three continents: Australia, the Americas (both North and South America), and Europe.

Team members of the 5 Continents Drive Project left their usual work behind and, taking hold of the steering wheels themselves, ‘conversed’ with a variety of different roads around the world. At times, these included roads in severe natural environments.

The members then returned to their workplaces with a vast amount of newly acquired real world knowledge, continuing to pursue the question: “How can we make ever-better cars that will put a smile on the faces of our customers?” This project has increased the number of such colleagues, and I have great hopes for them. 

This year, we embark on the challenge presented by African roads. 

I have previously felt when driving across Africa, cars are not merely a means of transport; instead, they are indispensable to both enable people to go about their daily routines and also protect their lives. 

What type of “cherished vehicle” do people genuinely desire? 

What sort of happiness do cars give them?

Every day, as the team members square their focus on handling African roads and vehicles, they will consider in what ways—and to what extent—cars are necessary. 

I have great hopes that they will discover first-hand the power that cars possess, and return home with new discoveries about making ever-better cars.

For this stage of the 5 Continents Drive, we welcome members from Suzuki, Hino, and Toyota Auto Body to drive the African continent with us. 

Each company has its own field of specialty, developed over a number of years. 

Driving the same roads and confronting the difficulties as a united team, we will be able to learn things we never knew from each other—and I believe that this will enable us to more fully understand the roads of Africa.

I want to create ever-better cars. I want to ensure that cars are fun and loved.

My wish is that members who share these ambitions will learn a great deal on African roads, and return safe and sound.

It excites me to think that we will then proceed on the path to creating ever-better cars together.

Akio Toyoda, President, Toyota Motor Corporation 

2014 drive project in Australia
2015 drive project in North America
2015 drive project in North America
2016 drive project in Latin America
2017 drive project in Europe
2017 drive project in Europe


Past Legs of the 5 Continents Drive








-20,000 km

72 days

Deserts, poorly maintained roads, and other rough terrain were navigated in a region that is said to encapsulate a variety of roads from around the world.


The Americas
(North America)

-28,000 km

109 days

The North American leg was divided into a summer and winter season: Death Valley and other regions of intense heat were tackled in the summer, while Alaska and eastern Canada were driven in the winter.


The Americas
(Latin America)

-20,000 km

84 days

Mud roads in the tropics, mountain passes at an altitude of 5,640 meters, deserts, and other roads were traveled.



-21,000 km

85 days

In the birthplace of the automobile, Toyota cars were compared to their European counterparts as they strove to enhance the collection and analysis of driving data. Divided into summer and winter seasons, participating cars drove highways and embarked on long-distance journeys.

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