Each continent comes with its own set of challenges for vehicles and their drivers. Learning what these challenges and obstacles are can help designers and engineers make even better cars. That’s what the Five Continents Drive is all about.
The development of a new vehicle is something special.
It takes years of planning, endless tests, feedback from previous models, new innovations, the reading of the market, simulations on computers, wind tunnels and test tracks. But in the end, there is nothing like driving the car.
That is why Toyota recently embarked on the Five Continents Drive. Voetspore is proud to be associated with this project. Go have a peek here.
Despite the engineers’ best intentions in developing a vehicle that is perfect for its application, there always seem to be something they miss. Driving a Toyota Land Cruiser, like we do, is not only about the reliability of the vehicle. There needs to be a few other concerns, too, and that is exactly what Toyota Motor Corporation aims to address with this massive project.
Toyota believes “On the road we learn how to make ever-better cars”. The Five Continents Drive Project was formulated to put this maxim to the test.
It all started in Australia, three years ago. The 2014 Australian leg of the project came to a successful end after 72 days of driving Australian roads, circling the continent, starting and finishing in Melbourne where the TMCA (Toyota Motor Corporation Australia) production plant is located. Eighty team members drove 13 cars throughout Australia, which is said to boast 80% of the world’s most demanding roads (wait till they get to Africa).
From there, it moved to the Americas. The North American leg of the project started in Summer 2015 in Texas. The expedition then went to the East Coast and across America, passing through Canada and Mexico. In winter of that year, the project drove through Canada and Alaska. The 140-person team drove about 28 000km in 109 days, driving 23 different types of cars.
In 2017, the project moved to Europe where engineers could experience, first hand, the handling of Toyota vehicles on the fast-moving autobahns.
Now it is time for Africa. Ke Nako.
Hereafter it will be Asia, ending the project during the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020.
With the employees of Toyota South Africa, East Africa and Japan, we are in the process of developing routes in southern and east Africa where the Toyota engineers can get first-hand experience of driving conditions on our continent. There will be freeways, tar, potholes, gravel, mud, sand… every possible driving condition that we encounter on our continent.
The development of the African leg started months ago. The drive will only happen in the last quarter of the year.
In Africa, most of the vehicles will be 4x4s. There are, however, certain sections where normal sedan vehicles are quite capable. There, the Corollas, Aygos and other Toyota 2x4s will be driven.
Our journey will start in Dar es Salaam. We shall work our way south, west of Lake Malawi, crossing Zambia and entering Zimbabwe at Victoria Falls. On our way to Johannesburg, we may do a little detour into Botswana, entering South Africa at the Limpopo bushveld.
The second leg will start in Cape Town. At first, there is the beautiful scenic route of Chapmans Peak, visiting Cape Point and driving through the Cape Winelands. But then we head north, through Namaqualand, and crossing into Namibia. In this desert country, the drivers and vehicles will be exposed to Namibian gravel and the massive sand dunes of the Namib between Lüderitz and Walvis Bay. Then it will be back into the interior.
One of the highlights promises to be the massive salt pans of Makgadikgadi. Nowhere else in the world have these drivers and vehicles been exposed to such extreme conditions.
The plan is to drive from Botswana all the way down to Durban where the African leg of the Five Continents Drive will come to an end.
Driving the Land Cruisers for the past number of years made us intensely aware of the attributes of these vehicles. It also made us aware of a few little niggles. Issues that can be addressed by engineers who drive the vehicles where we have driven them. Maybe they will get rid of the electric window control that irritates the driver’s right knee in the Cruiser 76, and maybe the cable of the handbrake will be placed so that it is not possible for mud to penetrate, causing the brake pads to be replaced every three to four thousand kilometres when working in extreme conditions.
The Five Continents Drive is a highly recommendable project to allow Toyota to produce even better cars. That is what one expects of the world’s leading motor manufacturer.
Voetspore is proud of this association.