“For the next 110 days, our drivers and engineers will steer a convoy of vehicles across North America’s highways, byways and backstreets,” Lentz explained, “engaging and energizing team members along the way and inspiring all of us for future innovations.”
The journey—which has taken Toyota’s drivers and vehicles to the toughest urban and rural terrains of the United States, Canada and Mexico—was designed to get Toyota engineers on the road where they can better understand first-hand how customers use their cars on a daily basis.
The power of the expedition was illustrated on July 16, when Toyota engineer Frank DiMaggio climbed into a New York City taxicab. Traveling through the Lower East Side, DiMaggio noticed the Prius swerving and lurching through the rigors of New York traffic. This cab was a fertile den of knowledge, brimming with gritty details.
DiMaggio was downright smitten with the wear and tear. To a Toyota Technical Center engineer from Ann Arbor, Mich., this was a big deal. The chance to test and examine Toyota vehicles in taxing, real-world scenarios will stick with the EBE team for years.
“What we saw that day will, in some way, inspire design development in the future,” DiMaggio said. “There’s no better place than a New York taxicab. The driver is putting 100,000 miles on that car each year. Those doors are opening and closing more than any test we could design in a lab. Even better, it’s not a test in a lab, it’s in the real world. It’s a direct line to the customer. We can’t replicate that. This is what Ever-Better Expedition is all about.”
Hands (and Knees) On
Engineers weren’t afraid to get dirty to examine the wear and tear on NYC taxis. Some cabbies drove a Prius, others a Camry. Every car had a story to tell.