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Eiji Toyoda

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Eiji Toyoda
豊田 英二
Born(1913-09-12)12 September 1913
Died17 September 2013(2013-09-17) (aged 100)
EducationTokyo Imperial University
Occupation(s)President (1967–1981) and Chairman (1981–1994)
Toyota Motor Corporation

Eiji Toyoda (豊田 英二, Toyoda Eiji, 12 September 1913 – 17 September 2013)[1] was a Japanese industrialist. He was largely responsible for bringing Toyota Motor Corporation to profitability and worldwide prominence during his tenure as president and later, as chairman.[2] He was succeeded as the president of Toyota by Shoichiro Toyoda.


Toyoda studied mechanical engineering at Tokyo Imperial University from 1933 to 1936.[3] During this time his cousin Kiichiro established an automobile plant at the Toyoda Automatic Loom Works in the city of Nagoya in central Japan.[3] Toyoda joined his cousin in the plant at the conclusion of his degree and throughout their lives they shared a deep friendship. In 1938, Kiichiro asked Eiji to oversee construction of a newer factory about 32 km east of Nagoya on the site of a red pine forest in the town of Koromo, later renamed Toyota City.[4] Known as the Honsha ("headquarters") plant, to this day it is considered the "mother factory" for Toyota Motor production facilities worldwide.[4]

Toyoda visited Ford River Rouge Complex at Dearborn, Michigan, during the early 1950s. He was awed by the scale of the facility but dismissive of what he saw as its inefficiencies.[5] Toyota Motor had been in the business of manufacturing cars for 13 years at this stage, and had produced just over 2,500 automobiles. The Ford plant in contrast manufactured 8,000 vehicles a day.[3] Due to this experience, Toyoda decided to adopt American automobile mass production methods but with a qualitative twist.[citation needed]

Toyoda collaborated with Taiichi Ohno, a veteran loom machinist, to develop core concepts of what later became known as the 'Toyota Production System', such as the Kanban system of labeling parts used on assembly lines, which was an early precursor to bar codes.[5] They also fine-tuned the concept of Kaizen, a process of incremental but constant improvements designed to cut production and labor costs while boosting overall quality.[5]

As a managing director of Toyota Motor, Toyoda failed in his first attempt to crack the U.S. market with the underpowered Toyota Crown sedan in the 1950s, but he succeeded with the Toyota Corolla compact in 1968, a year after taking over as president of the company.[5] During the car's development phase, Toyoda, as executive vice-president, had to overcome the objections of then-president Fukio Nakagawa to install a newly developed 1.0-liter engine, air conditioning and automatic transmissions in the Corolla.[4]

Appointed the fifth president of Toyota Motor, Toyoda went on to become the company's longest serving chief executive thus far.[4] In 1981, he stepped down as president and assumed the title of chairman. He was succeeded as president by Shoichiro Toyoda.[4] In 1983, as chairman, Eiji decided to compete in the luxury car market, which culminated in the 1989 introduction of Lexus.[4] Toyoda stepped down as chairman of Toyota in 1994 at the age of 81.[5]

Later years and death[edit]

In his later years, Toyoda was hospitalised for hip problems, and needed to use a wheelchair for a time, yet remained affable and enjoyed tackling sudoku puzzles. He spent most of his last years undergoing treatment at the Toyota Memorial Hospital in Toyota City, Japan, close to company headquarters.[6][7]

Five days after his 100th birthday, Toyoda died of heart failure in the Toyota Memorial Hospital on 17 September 2013.[7][8] Paying tribute to Toyoda, David Cole, former chairman of the Center for Automotive Research, said "He was a real visionary and inspirational leader who understood what it would take to make Toyota a successful company."[9] Leslie Kendall, curator of the Petersen Automotive Museum, described Toyoda as the Japanese equivalent of Henry Ford.[9]




Family tree[edit]

Born into a family of textile manufacturers, Eiji Toyoda is the son of Heikichi Toyoda, the brother of Toyoda Loom Works founder Sakichi Toyoda.[3] The descendants of Sakichi Toyoda have long dominated the upper management of Toyota Motors, which was incorporated in 1937. Eiji Toyoda died in September 2013. With his wife, Kazuko Toyoda (died 2002), he had three sons (Kanshiro, Tetsuro and Shuhei) and many grandchildren.[11]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Inoue, Kae; Anna Mukai; Yuki Hagiwara (16 September 2013). "Eiji Toyoda, Who Turned Toyota Into Export Giant, Dies at 100". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 16 September 2013.
  2. ^ "中日新聞:豊田英二氏死去 トヨタ最高顧問 100歳:社会(CHUNICHI Web)" [Eiji Toyoda, Toyota's top advisor, dies at 100 years old]. Chunichi.co.jp (in Japanese). 17 September 2013. Archived from the original on 17 September 2013. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d Toyoda, Eiji (1987). (1987). "Toyota – Fifty Years in Motion. Tokyo: Kodansha International. ISBN 0-87011-823-4.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Dawson, Chester (2004). Lexus: The Relentless Pursuit. Singapore: John Wiley & Sons (Asia) Pte Ltd. ISBN 0-470-82110-8.
  5. ^ a b c d e Dawson, Chester (24 May 2004). "Kiichiro And Eiji Toyoda: Blazing The Toyota Way". Business Week. Archived from the original on 24 January 2010. Retrieved 31 January 2010.
  6. ^ Miyazaki, Tomomi (17 September 2013). 車社会創った先駆者 豊田英二さん死去 [Death of people's auto pioneer Mr. Toyoda Eiji]. Asahi Shimbun (in Japanese). Retrieved 21 September 2013.
  7. ^ a b Kubota, Yoko (17 September 2013). "Eiji Toyoda, who helped steer Toyota's rise, dies at 100". Reuters. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
  8. ^ Hirsch, Jerry (17 September 2013). "Eiji Toyoda, car family scion who developed Corolla and Lexus, dies". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
  9. ^ a b Hirsch, Jerry (17 September 2013). "Eiji Toyoda dies at 100; helped family's firm change auto industry". LA Times. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Toyota Chairmen; honours and decorations" (Press release). Toyota. 30 June 2012. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
  11. ^ Tabuchi, Hiroko (17 September 2013). "Eiji Toyoda, Promoter of the Toyota Way and Engineer of Its Growth, Dies at 100". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 September 2013.

External links[edit]

Business positions
Preceded by
Fukio Nakagawa
President of Toyota
Succeeded by
Preceded by
New post
Chairman of Toyota
Succeeded by