“The wind from Mount Fuji
I put it on the fan.
Here, the souvenir from Edo.”
~~~a haiku by Basho
Toyota threw a great holiday party at the Westin Book Cadillac in Detroit on Thursday, a day after the tragic holiday party in San Bernadino. The press was in full attendance. Bill Vlasic of The New York Times asked Bob Carter, Senior Vice President – Automotive Operations, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. Inc., some great questions about how is the low price of gas affecting sales of hybrids like the Prius. Mr. Vlasic used to work with the legendary Pete Waldmeir of The Detroit News. My dad and Pete went to Denby High School together in Detroit. I think they were the Class of 1947, or darn close to that.
I met a cute, nice young lady named Missy from the American Cancer Society. She was cool. Later on, I walked up to her when she was with a lady colleague and looked her in the eye real seriously and said that Missy had been very rude to me. I broke into a smile as soon as I had delivered that line with the convincingness of Jean-Claude Van Damme. I quickly patched things up with Missy and went and got more jumbo shrimp. I only had one glass of Merlot before I moved on to Coke.
I’m not a lush.
The biggest announcement I heard Toyota give yesterday wasn’t at the party, though. Sure, they are going to unveil a prototype compact SUV at the North American International Auto Show; but something I heard in a Seth Meyers joke beat that hands down. Toyota is going to have a self-driving car by 2020. I wonder if it’ll be able to deliver pizza.
When the reporters from the media oligopoly finally walked away from Bob Carter, I asked him if Akio Toyoda, President and CEO of Toyota Motor Corporation, and a direct descendant of Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of Toyota, was still racing. Last year, Bob had given a long-time employee a replica of a race car Akio had driven; so I knew that Akio was an avid race car driver. Mr Carter’s eyes lit up when he was given the opportunity to talk about Akio and his obsession with racing instead of talking about how the price of gasoline is affecting sales of the Prius.
It turns out, yes, Akio is still racing. He likes to drag race at Fuji Speedway, which is in close proximity to Mt. Fuji, the most sacred mountain in all of Japan, and, on clear days, visible from Tokyo, formerly named Edo. Mt. Fuji is the subject matter of many great works of art in both painting and haiku.
Probably the greatest work of art with Mt. Fuji in it is “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” by Katsushika Hokusai.
I’m going to have to put seeing a drag race at Fuji Speedway on my bucket list, along with going to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Mr. Carter said seeing the Monaco Grand Prix is on his bucket list. Okay, now it’s on mine, too!