January 24, 2022

Eiji Toyoda, Promoter of ‘Toyota Way,’ Dies at 100

His death, at the Toyota Memorial Hospital, was caused by heart failure, the company said in a statement.

Mr. Toyoda, a nephew of the Toyota Group founder, Sakichi Toyoda, was president of Toyota from 1967 to 1982 and continued as chairman and then as adviser until his death. In almost six decades with the company he helped transform a tiny spinoff of a textile loom maker into the world’s biggest automaker.

Early on, he helped put Toyota at the forefront of a wave of automobile production in Japan, pushing it to bolster its lineup, first by adding compact vehicles and sports cars in the 1960s and 1970s. In the 1980s he initiated the development of luxury models to compete with the likes of Mercedes-Benz and BMW, culminating with the Lexus brand in 1989.

Mr. Toyoda also pushed Toyota’s expansion overseas, helping to establish the company’s joint factory with General Motors in Fremont, Calif. The plant, known as Nummi, introduced Japanese lean-production methods to the United States as part of a migration of Japanese auto manufacturing to American soil. The company’s manufacturing efficiencies have helped maintain Toyota’s status as one of the top auto manufacturers and employers in the world.

Nummi closed in 2010. It is now the site of a factory that makes the electric car trailblazer Tesla Motor.

In the early 1990s, it was Mr. Toyoda, known as a man of few words, who gave voice to a sense of crisis inside the company as Japan’s economic growth sputtered, arguing that Toyota needed to change the way it made cars if it hoped to survive in the 21st century. His urgings prompted the development of its popular Prius gas-electric hybrid, the manufacturing expert Satoshi Hino wrote in the 2005 book “Inside the Mind of Toyota.”

Mr. Toyoda was born on Sept. 12, 1913, near Nagoya in central Japan, the second son of Heikichi and Nao Toyoda. He spent much of his youth at his family’s textile mill and took an early interest in machines, he said in his 1988 autobiography, “Toyota: Fifty Years in Motion.” He graduated from the University of Tokyo in 1936 with a mechanical engineering degree and joined his family’s loom business.

The following year, Kiichiro Toyoda, son of the founder, created Toyota Motor, taking the young Eiji Toyoda with him.

Assigned to a division devoted to resolving quality problems, Mr. Toyoda is said to have developed an uncanny ability to spot waste.

“Problems are rolling all around in front of your eyes,” Mr. Toyoda said of those days in “Inside the Mind of Toyota.” “Whether you pick them up and treat them as problems is a matter of habit. If you have the habit, then you can do whatever you have a mind to.”

In 1950 he set out on what would turn out to be a pivotal three-month tour to survey Ford’s Rouge plant in Detroit, then the largest and most efficient factory in the world. Before the war, the military government prevented Toyota from building passenger cars, compelling it to make trucks for Japan’s war effort instead.

By 1950, Toyota had produced just 2,685 automobiles, compared with the 7,000 vehicles the Rouge plant was rolling out in a single day, according to “The Machine That Changed the World,” a 1990 study by James P. Womack, Daniel T. Jones and Daniel Roos.

Mr. Toyoda was unfazed, writing back to headquarters that he “thought there were some possibilities to improve the production system.” He brought back a thick booklet that outlined some of Ford’s quality-control methods; the company translated it into Japanese, changing “Ford” to “Toyota” in all references.

Mr. Toyoda went on to oversee Toyota’s Motomachi plant, a huge undertaking that gave the automaker the capacity to produce 5,000 passenger vehicles a month at a time when all of Japan produced about 7,000 vehicles a month. The plant, completed in 1959, was soon running at full capacity and gave Toyota a decisive lead over its domestic rival Nissan and the confidence to turn its eyes overseas.

Even as he aggressively expanded production at Toyota, Mr. Toyoda implemented a manufacturing culture based on concepts like “kaizen,” a commitment to continuous improvements suggested by the workers themselves, and just-in-time production, a tireless effort to eliminate waste. Those ideas became a corporate philosophy known as the “Toyota Way.”

“One of the features of the Japanese workers is that they use their brains as well as their hands,” he said in an interview with the author Masaaki Imai for the 1986 book “Kaizen.” “Our workers provide 1.5 million suggestions a year, and 95 percent of them are put to practical use. There is an almost tangible concern for improvement in the air at Toyota.”

The methods Mr. Toyoda nurtured have had global influence. Though Toyota long guarded its manufacturing techniques, the company came to recognize a broader interest in its model and has offered consulting services to manufacturers outside the automotive industry and to nonprofit organizations. As part of its community service programs, Toyota now trains workers at the Food Bank for New York City in ways to optimize flow and quality through streamlining and enhancing performance.

In 1994, the United States Automotive Hall of Fame inducted Mr. Toyoda for his contributions to car manufacturing. He was the second honoree from Japan, after the Honda Motor founder, Soichiro Honda.

“Ever since Toyota’s establishment in 1937, I have been involved in this wonderful business, and as long as my engine keeps running, I intend to give back as much as I can for the industry’s further development,” Mr. Toyoda said in a statement at the time.

Mr. Toyoda had three sons and a daughter with his wife, Kazuko. He is survived by Kanshiro, his eldest son.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/18/business/global/eiji-toyoda-promoter-of-toyota-way-dies-at-100.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Bucks: Thursday Reading: Groupon and Expedia to Offer Travel Deals

June 02

Thursday Reading: Groupon and Expedia to Offer Travel Deals

Groupon and Expedia to offer travel deals, car dealers keeping electric-car credits for themselves, Apple issues fix for a computer virus and other consumer-focused news from The New York Times.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=ceed0e99217871fdef58c12faa04b6e5

Shake-Up at Renault Over ‘Chain of Failures’

In particular, the audits faulted “the supervision and control of the activities of the management of the company’s security department.”

The company said it had accepted the resignation of Patrick Pélata, the chief operating officer. It did not say when Mr. Pélata would leave or who would succeed him.

The shake-up was perhaps inevitable after the fiasco embarrassed both the company and President Nicolas Sarkozy’s government and led to a chilling of relations with Beijing after unfounded talk of a Chinese connection to the affair.

The French government, which owns about 15 percent of Renault’s stock, has long indicated its unhappiness with how the company has handled the case. Ministers were not informed of the supposed spying until months after the internal investigation began, and intelligence officials were not brought aboard until after the company had already suspended the three employees.

Éric Besson, the French industry minister, told the television station LCI on Monday that the audits had shown “areas of grave dysfunction within the company’s management.” Christine Lagarde, the finance minister, told France Inter radio that “if mistakes were made, then those who made them should go.”

But the buck stopped short of Carlos Ghosn, one of France’s best paid and most visible businessmen. Renault, along with its Japanese affiliate, Nissan Motor, is making a bid for leadership in the electric car market, and Mr. Ghosn is the chief executive of both companies. Mr. Besson hinted last month that Mr. Ghosn would be allowed to stay, saying it was important not to further destabilize the company at a critical time.

The board has “turned a painful page in the history of Renault,” Mr. Ghosn said in the carmaker’s statement on Monday, adding that the management overhaul was necessary “to restore confidence in the company.”

Even before the debacle, the work force at Renault’s Technocenter research facility was disgruntled. “We aren’t confronted here with simple failures limited to a few managers,” the Renault chapter of the Confédération Générale du Travail union said, “but rather managerial practices that extend throughout the enterprise.”

It added that “the departure of a certain number of executives” would not change anything “without an overhaul of the function and structure of management at every level.”

The affair started last August, when Renault executives received an anonymous letter denouncing certain employees as spies. After an internal investigation, the company in January fired three men it said had been caught trying to sell secrets related to its electric car program overseas.

Mr. Ghosn and Mr. Pélata proclaimed their certainty of the employees’ guilt in news media interviews, despite questions about the evidence and the three men’s protestations of innocence. The men — Michel Balthazard, Bertrand Rochette and Matthieu Tenenbaum — found themselves jobless and under media scrutiny.

But the case started to come apart as soon as French prosecutors and intelligence officials began a criminal investigation and were unable to find the Swiss and Liechtenstein bank accounts the men were said to have maintained.

Rather than signs of espionage, the authorities found evidence suggesting a scheme to defraud the company; Renault’s bill for the investigation came to about 700,000 euros, or $1 million, the Paris prosecutor said in March, and it is still unclear where that money went.

The French authorities are now investigating two men in connection with the apparent fraud: a Renault security official, Dominique Gevrey, and another man, a private investigator. Mr. Gevrey, his boss, Rémi Pagnie, and another security official, Marc Tixador, are all leaving the company, Renault said.

Also leaving as part of the shake-up are Christian Husson, the chief legal counsel; Jean-Yves Coudriou, the head of human resources; and Laurence Dors, the general secretary.

Renault also said Monday that it had reached “an agreement in principle” with the three men regarding compensation for their wrongful dismissal, subject to final approval. The company did not say what the payout would be, but the French news media have reported that 11 million euros, or $15.9 million, would be split among the three. A Renault spokeswoman, Caroline de Gézelle, declined to comment on the amount.

Renault also said it had reached an agreement with another former executive, Philippe Clogenson, who left in 2009 after being accused of receiving bribes from suppliers. Mr. Clogenson will return to Renault in a consulting capacity, the company said.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=511735c16df39d68447f987018bd5acd