Founder's grandson runs Toyota race

The grandson of Toyota's founder and incoming president is to be a driver for the company's team in an endurance race in Germany.

Akio Toyoda, 52, was appointed president in January, a decision deemed to show the Japanese firm's determination to ride out the global economic downturn and rally the company, with what is forecast to be its first annual loss in nearly 60 years.

Company spokesman Paul Nolasco said that Kiichiro Toyoda's grandson is one of four drivers on a Toyota team entering the 24-hour race on the Nurburgring track, which will test the reliability of products in development.

Mr Toyoda will be racing in the Lexus LF-A, which also took part in the same race last year, finishing seventh in its class and 121st out of 150 cars that finished from the 216 vehicles that started.

"It's designed to be a sporty car. We put our prototype to a test," said Mr Nolasco.

Mr Toyoda is the first founding family member to take the helm in 14 years at the world's biggest carmaker. The family name is spelled with a 'd', but the company's name was changed to 'Toyota' as it was considered luckier, the firm said.

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