Toyota’s Super Creative Test Drive: Employees Get A Free Adventurous Road Trip

Ever-Better Expedition

9 to 5.

9 to 5.

Come on, guys. Repeat it with me.

9 to 5.

9 to 5.

What you hear is a rhythm; a rhythm that binds you to the daily mundane groove that we call ‘life’. We let the artists, travellers and explorers in us wander far away from our daily identity. But what if your job lets you live your passion and enrich it further? If you’re familiar with some of the jobs Toyota offers, you already know the answer.

Toyota Ever-better Expedition

Image courtesy: clublexus.com

Riding between the coasts,
across the North American countryside,
and through the concrete jungles of urbanity,
Does Toyota possess its continental stride?

To answer this question, Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, launched its ‘Ever-Better Expedition‘ to test their cars in real-life settings in a super creative test drive and collect helpful feedback for improving future vehicles.  In the words of Toyota North America CEO Jim Lentz,

These vehicles may have been conceived in an engineer’s mind. But they were born on the road. And it’s time to get them back to the place of their birth.

Toyota Ultimate Utility Vehicle

Toyota Ultimate Utility Vehicle

 Image courtesy: toyota.com

The ‘Expedition‘ called for Toyota employees to get their hands dirty while trudging through rough terrains across North America. So it was fairly obvious that road trip enthusiast and talented Toyota engineer, Frank DiMaggio would be chosen as one of the team members to spearhead this epic programme.

Toyota engineer Frank DiMaggio doing his thing

Toyota engineer Frank DiMaggio doing his thing

Image courtesy: wearesweet.co

Road trip lovers would know the heady cocktail of excitement, impatience, elation and jitters one gets immersed in before embarking on a journey. But for DiMaggio, it was no ordinary expedition; it was a six-month, 15,000 miles road trip across U.S., Canada and Mexico. DiMaggio absolutely loves road trips and thus, couldn’t wait for the excursion to take off.

In an interview with Sweet, he humorously commented,

Perfect, now my co-workers will hate me even more. I have the best job ever.

DiMaggio and his team started the expedition in Plano, Texas in June 2015 and gradually covered almost all types of terrain that the continent had to offer—from the parched Death Valley in California to the icy roads of Alaska, the mountain peaks of Colorado and the busy streets of New York. Per contra, DiMaggio was no stranger to the diverse topography. He mentions, “I had actually already been almost everywhere we went on this trip at some point in my life.”

However, it wasn’t all fun-and-frolic vacation vibes and country music playing on the radio. Toyota launched this programme with the main purpose of, as DiMaggio describes it, “taking the cars to places where we can see their strengths and weaknesses.”

Toyota's driving project in U.S.

Toyota’s driving project in U.S.

Image courtesy: serratoyota.com

It was the New York leg of the expedition that particularly received a lot of attention. The typical New York City cabbie drives around 100,000 miles per year. Thus, an assessment of Toyota cabs and their driver’s experiences would provide the team with valuable information. To get a clear idea of the abuse the average taxi undergoes daily, Toyota assembled a fleet of Camry and Prius Hybrid cabs to take engineers on a quick loop of Manhattan.

New York City Cab Test

New York City Cab Test

Image courtesy: toyotatoday.com

Traversing through the Lower East Side, DiMaggio noticed his Prius veering and lurching through the rigours of New York traffic. For him, this “cab was a fertile den of knowledge, brimming with gritty details.” DiMaggio was absolutely smitten with the wear and tear. He thinks there’s no better place than a New York taxicab. The driver puts 100,000 miles on that car each year. Those doors open and close more than any test designed in a lab: it’s in the real world, a direct line to the customer. That can’t be replicates, he felt, and that is what Ever-Better Expedition is all about.

The 24-week road trip comprised a good deal of customer interaction. In fact, DiMaggio and his team members from Toyota were constantly approached by automotive enthusiasts to talk shop; some put forward auto-related questions and some just stopped by for a road-side chitchat. In Alaska, most people engaged in conversations pertaining to the harshness of the climate. He said,

The activity is not only to test our vehicles—to make sure they’re safe and perform well in all environments—but also to get out there and interact with customers.

In Alaska

In Alaska

Image courtesy: askmen.com

DiMaggio took part in the Australian edition of Toyota’s Ever-Better Expedition as well. He found that Australia is not like the U.S. in terms of the amount of roads. There, he was faced by a different set of obstacles—the age-old riddle of being in the middle of the Australian outback and not knowing if there’s going to be a gas station.

Daytona Beach Drive

Daytona Beach Drive

Image courtesy: toyota.com

According to DiMaggio, the scariest moment in the journey was when he got to Manhattan and had to drive to a hotel in Midtown. But they managed to make it to check-in, safe and sound. For DiMaggio, although the 179 days of extensive traveling and testing were a real strain, he is sure that he hasn’t ever done, or ever will do, anything more rewarding.

#everbetter

Image courtesy: serratoyota.com

Through Toyota’s Ever-Better Expedition, DiMaggio got the best job he could ever ask for. Not only did it lend another feather to his professional hat, but it also gave him new experiences and memories that he will cherish forever.

Dream jobs aren’t just distant dreams now! So, when are you applying to be a mattress-tester?

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