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 Trending, Viral Videos

TODAY’S MUST SEE: ‘Scaring’ with the ‘Stars’

Fresh
11-overlay3

Halloween is alive and well on the set of the hit ABC show "Dancing With the Stars."

in Entertainment

PHOTOS: 20 celebrities who dress like Halloween all year

Fresh
ozzy

Some celebrities dress like every day is one big costume party.

in Entertainment

Today in entertainment history: Oct. 31

phoenix

A look back on some of Hollywood's most memorable moments.

in Entertainment

REVIEW: ‘Birdman’ could be the best film of 2014

In this image released by Fox Searchlight Pictures, Michael Keaton portrays Riggan in a scene from "Birdman."

You’ve heard the buzz for Michael Keaton's "Birdman." It’s loud and it's merited.

in Sports, Viral Videos

Nike hype video welcomes LeBron back to Cleveland

14-overlay4

The video huddles the whole city as "The King" returns home.