Just months after becoming the top man at Toyota Motor Corp., Akio Toyoda was not so confident about his new role, thinking that he was too young and was only able to reach it because of his name. Toyoda admitted having those doubts in early 2010, after served eight months as the president of a very large global carmaker that his grandfather founded and his father once ran.
During those eight months, Toyoda was barely seen from the public, as those were the months when Toyota's vehicles were involved in fatal crashes in the United States. Toyoda headed to Washington to apologize to Congress and the American people. "All the vice presidents were 10 years older than me," Toyoda remarked in an impromptu interview this summer with Bloomberg.
"Compared to them, even though I was president. Well. You know." Those were the days that doubts over his own abilities plagued Toyoda, but not now. Since then, he has managed to re-grow Toyota's name, and has even managed to make the carmaker, again, as the largest auto manufacturer in the world both in terms of vehicle sales and profits.
Toyota is now on its way to post a record profit while its Lexus luxury unit is seen to log its best-ever year of sales. To top it all, industry surveys have shown that public doubts over Toyota's deteriorating quality are fading. Indeed, it is a noteworthy turnaround for a top honcho who started his top role in a shaky manner.
In fact, Akio has managed to craft an image as a hands-on guy who loves the smell of gasoline and whose passion for racing is adding spice to the Toyota brand. He was afraid back then that he might not last on the job, but now he is expected to outdo the 17 years his father spend on the top job. "What you're seeing today is Akio asserting himself," David Herro, chief investment officer at Harris Associates LP told Bloomberg.