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Former car company chief Eiji Toyoda passes away

Former car company chief Eiji Toyoda passes away

THE death has taken place of Eiji Toyoda who was instrumental in making his family’s car company Toyota become a mass-market success. He was 100.

Mr. Toyoda had joined his cousin Kirchiro, who founded the car company, in the late 1930s. His first job was to establish a production plant at a small town called Koromo near Nagoya. By 1959 the company was so successful that the town was renamed Toyota City.

After becoming managing director in 1950, Mr. Toyoda began to examine ways of improving production techniques. During a visit to the United States he spent a long period studying one of Ford’s production lines. This was to prove to be one of the turning points in his thinking. He returned to Japan determined to introduce a similar approach to production but with additional ways of eliminating waste and inefficiency. He borrowed American ideas to develop an ethos for his company which was to become known as the Toyota Way.

The result was a super-efficient approach to mass car production incorporating just-in-time stock control and with a workforce which believed it could continually improve.

His first attempts to export to the United States in the late 1950s were not a success but things turned around dramatically in the mid-1960s when he produced the Corolla — which not only became a success in the U.S. but went on to become the world’s bestselling car of all time.

Mr. Toyoda was always seeking ways of keeping the company competitive across the world and was among the first Japanese car manufacturers to open factories in such places as Britain and the U.S.

After retiring as chairman of Toyota in 1994, he remained a senior adviser to the firm. Mr. Toyoda passed away at the Toyota Memorial Hospital in Toyota City. He is survived by his three sons.

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