Now that autonomous driving has entered adolescence, complete with odor and zits, it’s time to revisit a year-old quote from none other than Akio Toyoda, as he tisk-tisked Tesla about Autopilot: “If there is a major accident involving automated driving, technological advancement will stop suddenly.”
Yesterday we learned of a major accident involving automated driving.
Yet today, Mobileye, BMW and Intel announced aggressive plans to push forward. Even Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx chimed in and said it’s full throttle for regulatory work due to the full-throttle pace of the technology. It has not stopped suddenly. In fact, contrary to TeslaMondo’s headline from yesterday, it hasn’t even hit a chicane.
So, was Akio Toyoda just trying to sprinkle ants into Tesla’s picnic basket last year, or did he really believe what he said? Backing up the camera a little more, did Toyota’s Takeshi Uchiyamada really believe his words a few years back when he said Toyota sees no market in pure electric vehicles, or was he, too, trying to marginalize Tesla?
Toyota’s misreads are looming large. The company has now unwillingly passed the baton to Tesla as the real tech leader. The Prius, which isn’t selling for shit despite its new suit — or maybe because of its new suit — will go down in history as the last example of Toyota’s once ironclad tech leadership.