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 Entertainment

Today in entertainment history: Sept. 22

familyties

A look back at the Hollywood headlines that went down in history.

in Sports

Sunday Night Football on KPUG: Steelers top Panthers 37-19

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) passes during the first half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014, in Baltimore.

Le'Veon Bell ran for 147 yards and the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Carolina Panthers 37-19 on Sunday night.

in Sports

NFL week 3 scoreboard

A football before the first half of an NFL preseason football game between the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks Friday, Aug. 23, 2013, in Green Bay, Wis.

All the scores from week 3 in the National Football League

in Sports

The Associated Press Top 25

football genric image

The Associated Press Top 25 poll.

in Sports

Former Titans kicker Bironas killed in accident

NFL logo on the field before an NFL football game between the Detroit Lions and the New England Patriots in Detroit, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013.

Metro Nashville Police said Bironas lost control on a curve in his 2009 GMC Yukon Denali and crashed after 11 p.m. Saturday less than a mile from home.

Bellingham Traffic