TOKYO — For Japan’s biggest automaker, the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics has been a five-year, about $1 billion bet on showcasing the company and its technology to the world.
But speculation is mounting here that the games will be postponed, or even canceled, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. If so, Toyota Motor Corp. might be out a bundle.
For starters, Toyota spent a reported $835 million in 2015 to sign on as a top sponsor of the games through 2024.
Since then, it has put untold millions into developing a fleet of electrified, new-mobility vehicles to roll out for the event — from hydrogen fuel cell buses to automated athlete shuttles and a cast of robots to help at events. A self-driving Toyota pod car is supposed to escort the torch relay.
Toyota also created a sophisticated worldwide marketing campaign called “Start Your Impossible” that revolves around the Olympics and the idea of delivering new modes of mobility to all people. It even spent years developing a new, more…