Eiji Toyoda

Eiji Toyoda
豊田 英二
Born (1913-09-12)12 September 1913
Nagoya, Japan
Died 17 September 2013(2013-09-17) (aged 100)
Toyota, Aichi
Nationality Japanese
Education Tokyo Imperial University
Occupation 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]


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.

Toyoda collaborated with Taiichi Ohno, a veteran loom machinist, to develop core concepts of what later became known as the 'Toyota Way', 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

In his later years, Toyoda was hospitalised for hip problems, and was wheelchair-bound for a time, yet remained affable and smiling in interviews. Retaining a clear mind into his 90s, he 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

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 (died 2002), he had three sons (Kanshiro, Tetsuro and Shuhei) and many grandchildren.[11]


See also


  1. Inoue, Kae; Anna Mukai; Yuki Hagiwara (2013-09-16). "Eiji Toyoda, Who Turned Toyota Into Export Giant, Dies at 100". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 2013-09-16.
  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). 2013-09-17. Retrieved 2013-09-17.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Toyoda, Eiji (1987). (1987). "Toyota - Fifty Years in Motion. Tokyo: Kodansha International. ISBN 0-87011-823-4.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Dawson, Chester (2004). Lexus: The Relentless Pursuit. Singapore: John Wiley & Sons (Asia) Pte Ltd. ISBN 0-470-82110-8.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 Dawson, Chester (2004-05-24). "Kiichiro And Eiji Toyoda: Blazing The Toyota Way". Business Week. Retrieved 2010-01-31.
  6. Miyazaki, Tomomi (2013-09-17). 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 2013-09-21.
  7. 1 2 Kubota, Yoko (2013-09-17). "Eiji Toyoda, who helped steer Toyota's rise, dies at 100". Reuters. Retrieved 2013-09-18.
  8. Hirsch, Jerry (2013-09-17). "Eiji Toyoda, car family scion who developed Corolla and Lexus, dies". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-09-18.
  9. 1 2 Hirsch, Jerry (17 September 2013). "Eiji Toyoda dies at 100; helped family's firm change auto industry". LA Times. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 "Toyota Chairmen; honours and decorations" (Press release). Toyota. 2012-06-30. Retrieved 2013-09-18.
  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

Business positions
Preceded by
Fukio Nakagawa
President of Toyota
Succeeded by
Shoichiro Toyoda
Preceded by
Chairman of Toyota
Succeeded by
Shoichiro Toyoda
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