News

Eiji Toyoda, pioneer of ‘Toyota Way,’ dies at 100

Eiji Toyoda, pioneer of ‘Toyota Way,’ dies at 100

New United Motor Manufacturing Inc., a $400 million joint venture between General Motors Corp. and Toyota Motors Corp., was inaugurated with a dedication ceremony at the Fremont, Calif., plant. Toyota Chairman Eiji Toyoda stands in front of a Chevrolet Nova on the assembly line, April 13, 1985. Photo: Reuters/AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

By Yoko Kubota

TOKYO (Reuters) – Eiji Toyoda, who helped steer Toyota Motor Corp’s global rise and pioneered the automaker’s vaunted production system, died on Tuesday, the Japanese automaker said. He was 100.

Toyoda, cousin of the automaker’s founder, died of heart failure in Toyota City, the company said in a statement.

A taciturn engineer, Toyoda served as president between 1967 and 1982. He was chairman until 1994 and remained an honorary advisor at Toyota up until the time of his death.

Over his career, Toyoda presided over Toyota’s rise in the U.S. market from the launch of the Corolla in the late 1960s to the decision to begin making cars in the United States in the late 1980s.

Toyoda was also instrumental in developing what became the automaker’s much-imitated method of producing cars with as little waste as possible and continual quality improvements, a system that became known as the “Toyota Way”.

In 1950, company founder Kiichiro Toyoda sent Eiji, a graduate of the University of Tokyo, to Ford Motor Co’s massive Rouge Plant to learn about car making from the company that had pioneered mass production.

In a story that is still shared at Toyota training sessions, Toyoda returned to Japan impressed with U.S. materials and machinery but convinced that he could make improvements to Ford’s world-famous production system.

“Japan’s automobile industry facilities and engineers are good but our machine tools are inferior. If we can solve this problem, we can manufacture good and economic vehicles that are equal to America’s,” Toyoda wrote after his month and a half of training at Ford’s major factories.

At the time of his death, Toyoda was being treated at a hospital the company had first founded as a clinic for its factory workers in 1938.

Recent Headlines

in Music

CHART TOPPERS: This week’s top rock tracks

godsmack

LISTEN: This week's top rock tracks, according to the latest Billboard charts.

in Music

Robert Plant urges Jimmy Page to give up Led Zeppelin reunion

2012 Kennedy Center Honorees and members of the band Led Zeppelin, from left, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and Robert Plant chat on the red carpet after arriving at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors Performance and Gala Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012 at the State Department in Washington.

Robert Plant has urged his former Led Zeppelin bandmate Jimmy Page to end his war of words with the singer and concentrate on recording new music.

in Weird

Groom turns canceled wedding into charity benefit

Groom

A Pittsburgh man whose wedding was called off is making the best of the situation. Instead of getting married he's raising thousands for charity.

in Weird

From Texas, where everything is bigger, the 99-pack of beer

99beers

Invite the whole neighborhood to your cookout, because you're going to have plenty of beer.

in Weird

Australian farmers could have world’s woolliest sheep

Six-year-old Shaun the merino sheep may be the world's woolliest sheep. He had likely never been shorn in his life, but was due to have a date with the clippers in the next few days, farmers said.

Shaun the sheep was found wandering the Australian countryside with what is estimated to be a 55 lb coat.