TOKYO -- When the head of Toyota announced on Thursday he would step down as CEO, Akio Toyoda opted for the news outlet he sees as the fairest source of information on the automaker's environmental record: his own.
For the last three years, the 66-year-old has built up the "Toyota Times," hiring Japanese journalists and ramping up coverage of the company to counter what he sees as persistent misinformation and unfair criticism.
Streamed live on the Toyota website, Thursday's sometimes stilted broadcast underscored how Toyoda has tried to change the conversation around the company his grandfather founded and his apparent frustration at failing to do so.
The automaker's approach has not been "understood or appreciated by those who focus on the short term," Toyoda said in a swipe at critics, before eventually turning to Lexus boss Koji Sato who will take the reins from him from April 1.
Toyoda, who will stay on as chairman, said he felt he had become "part of an older generation" when it comes to the challenge of electrification and connectivity for vehicles.
Both Toyoda and the company have come under fire for what activists and green investors see as a reluctance to embrace battery electric vehicles.
Toyota says it wants to offer a range of options on the journey to zero emissions and that hybrid technology makes more sense in markets that are not ready for costly batteries.
It estimates a billion people do not have access to electricity to power vehicles, and is committed to selling globally.
"What I find unfortunate is that the media often thrives on conflict, setting BEVs against hybrids, for example," Toyoda said on the Toyota Times recently. "But the fact is that Toyota operates globally with a full lineup."