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.

Latest Headlines

in Music

Arcade Fire confused by fans’ love for free downloads

Fresh
Win Butler and Reed Parry of Arcade Fire perform at the 2014 Big Day Out Festival.

Arcade Fire are baffled by the avalanche of online file-sharing because fans will regularly buy expensive coffee but expect to get records for free.

in Entertainment

Jamie Foxx to portray Mike Tyson in biopic

Actor Jamie Foxx poses for a portrait at the Crosby Street Hotel, in promotion of his upcoming role in "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," on Sunday, April 27, 2014 in New York.

Jamie Foxx is set to portray boxing legend Mike Tyson in a movie after five years of preparation for the role.

in Entertainment

Kiefer Sutherland confused by Freddie Prinze, Jr. blast

Prinze Jr Sutherland

Kiefer Sutherland has been left baffled by former 24 co-star Freddie Prinze, Jr.'s public attack on the star's professionalism.

in Viral Videos

Mini Dominoes break World Record

Mini Dominoes

The challenge gets bigger as the Dominoes get smaller!

in Lifestyle

Fist bumps relay 90 percent less germs than handshakes

President Barack Obama fist bumps the cashier after paying for his order at Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas on July 10, 2014.

Replacing handshakes with fist bumps could help cut down on the spread of bacteria and illnesses, according to a new study.