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by Tim Beissmann

Toyota Motor Corporation has kicked off a new driving program in Australia today to help the car maker develop vehicle specifications and set-ups for future models.

More than 30 executives and employees involved in the global development of Toyota vehicles will take part in the program that will cover approximately 18,000 kilometres between now and mid-November.

The fleet comprises a range of models, including the 86, Corolla, Camry, HiLux, Prado and LandCruiser.

Toyota Australia president Dave Buttner said Australia was chosen for this component of the driving program because its varied terrain is said to feature at least 80 per cent of the road surfaces found on the planet.

“Toyota has an excellent understanding of Australia’s diverse conditions, but our parent company is taking nothing for granted by undertaking this extensive project in addition to regular vehicle evaluations and testing carried out in Australia,” Buttner said.

“It is vital that Toyota’s leading vehicle development personnel get back to basics, experiencing first hand what it takes to continue satisfying customers with ever better cars.”

Buttner said several local employees would participate in the drive, reinforcing the connection between Toyota Australia’s people and the vehicles it sells.

Toyota Australia executive director sales and marketing Tony Cramb said the program would enhance Toyota’s ability to provide Australians with vehicles that are “better suited to our conditions and are more engaging to drive”.