TOKYO -- Here's another sign that Akio Toyoda is ready to go on the offensive.
For the first time in four years, his company hosted a major news conference to outline the year's motorsports activities, introduce the drivers and show off the cars.
The Jan. 30 season preview was the first such event Toyoda has attended as CEO.
The motorsports news conferences used to be an annual ritual for Toyota Motor Corp. But that all stopped in November 2009.
The company's global racing director, Tadashi Yamashina, made headlines then for breaking into tears as the world's biggest carmaker said it was quitting Formula One, the pinnacle of the sport. But the company felt it had little choice.
The global financial meltdown was in full swing. The automaker had just posted a rare net loss for the fiscal year ended March 2009.
In the four years since its withdrawal from F1 racing, Toyota has kept a low profile. With the company buffeted by the economic crisis, unintentional acceleration recalls and then the massive earthquake-tsunami in Japan, it seemed unseemly to tout what critics might brand a frivolous diversion.