Eiji Toyoda, Toyota Motor Corp.'s longest-serving president who helped steer the global success of the Japanese carmaker, has died due to heart failure. The younger cousin of Toyota founder Kiichiro Toyoda was 100. Toyoda was credited for having helped in turning Toyota from just a maker of Chevrolet knockoffs into a carmaker famous for its production efficiency.
It’s even more efficient than General Motors and Ford Motor Co. When he left Toyota in 1994, the Japanese carmaker was already building Corollas in the United States, had launched Lexus and had commenced a project that eventually resulted to the creation of the most successful hybrid vehicle, the Prius. Eiji Toyoda was one of five presidents to come from the Toyoda family. Toyoda became president of Toyota Motor Co. in 1967 and served for 15 years – the longest among the carmaker’s top leaders.
In 1982, Toyota Motor and Toyota Motor Sales Co. combined to establish Toyota Motor Corp., in which Toyoda was chairman until 1992. Following his retirement, Toyoda was made the company’s honorary chairman and honorary adviser. Under his leadership, Toyota was able to learn from GM and Ford about mass production of vehicles.
Toyota was also able to build at least 10 new plants and start exporting to a number of countries. The carmaker also institutionalized just-in-time production and built a reputation for manufacturing excellence. Toyoda stressed the importance of manufacturing concepts principal to Toyota's production methods like "kaizen" and "jidoka."