More Toyota Withdrawal Information: the Japanese Company Is No Longer the Largest


What Happens When Times Are Rough, and Tempers Flare

12:47am EST — Barely over a week ago, Toyota announced its withdrawal from Formula1, citing “the current severe economic realities” as the deciding factor.  While rumors had persisted that the company would withdraw from F1 for quite some time, it was still a shock that the world’s largest car manufacturer would no longer spend the necessary money for even a mid-pack F1 team.  Recently, however, information was published that has verified the slipping sales and economic crisis for Toyota.

Monday, The Guardian published an article stating that Toyota is no longer the world’s largest car manufacturer (by production).  The Japanese company has been overtaken by Volkswagen-Porsche.  Through the beginning of November, the German company has produced 4.4 million cars, four hundred thousand more than Toyota.  This statistic was estimated by IHS Global Insight, and was at least partially explained by Toyota’s conservative production strategy, in that the company dropped its first quarter production from 2.1 million cars to 1.1 million cars.  It is projected that Toyota will produce 7 million cars this year, compared to the 9.24 million it produced last year.  That certainly leaves less money lying around to play with Formula1 cars that are not winning races.

The drama involved in the Toyota F1 withdrawal also heated up Wednesday as rumors persisted that John Howett was to blame for the lack of Toyota wins and podiums.  Former team members were quite candid with the press, either directly blaming Howett, the team president.  “Why did they give a job to a bureaucrat who understood nothing about racing?” said former head of research for the team Norbert Kreyer.  Only slightly more vague are the remarks by former team manager Richard Cregan, “it was not recognized early enough that the direction the team was taking was simply not correct. But that was pretty obvious to those who knew what the business is all about.”  However intriguing and entertaining these remarks are, one must remember that Kreyer was fired from the team in 2004, and Cregan left the team in order to oversee the new circuit at Abu Dhabi.

Many F1 insiders have suggested that it will do the sport some good for those who are interested in publicity and marketing for a brand of car to leave and make room for those who are on the grid to race, and race competitively.  Only time will tell, though 2010 will be a good indication of the dedication and drive of these competitors as three out of thirteen teams on the grid will be car company teams (Ferrari, Renault, and Lotus).

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