In 1993, Honorary Chairman Eiji Toyoda and Chairman Shoichiro Toyoda commissioned a study under the codename “G21.” “G” stood for “Globe” and “21” for the 21st century, a fitting moniker for a project whose main aim was to conceive a car for the new century.
Takeshi Uchiyamada was named the chief engineer. The result was the Toyota Prius, an elegant, simple, hybrid system concept vehicle, which was introduced at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1995. Production launched in 1997 and the Prius became the first mass-produced gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle in the world. In 2000, the Prius was introduced in the North American and European markets. The vehicle’s integrated electric motor and generator, previously an unproven technology, was an outright success.
In light of growing public awareness of environmental issues, Toyota launched advertisements called the Toyota Eco Project. The ground-breaking and large-scale ads, which introduced Toyota initiatives while presenting environmental themes such as carbon dioxide reduction and waste issues, went past the goal of maximizing the impact of the new Prius release by having a major effect on society.
The hybrid system developed by Uchiyamada’s team achieved drastic improvements in fuel efficiency and emissions performance. Under Uchiyamada’s leadership, Toyota established a new direction.
Uchiyamada graduated from Nagoya University with a degree in applied physics and joined Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) in 1969. He was named Chairman in 2013.