In what seems to be an unusually deep and heartfelt apology even by Japanese standards, Toyota’s new CEO, Akio Toyoda virtually donned sackcloth and covered himself ashes on Friday. The immediate reason was the fatal crash that killed a Californian family of four, and which was blamed on a badly designed floor mat. This sparked the biggest vehicle recall (3.8 million cars) in history. But that was only the beginning: Toyoda went on to apologise for probably losing $5 billion this year, as well as having to close a factory in California after venture partner, GM, went bust. Although welcome, his expressions of grief and sorrow are seen by analysts as laying the ground for substantial changes and probably an entire new direction for the world’s biggest carmaker. Though Toyota’s 2009 losses are relatively puny, especially compared to those of their US rivals, a cloud of fear now hangs over the giant company. Toyoda’s apology may just have started the process into the brave future. Just no Camries anymore, please.