TTAC’s not the only one wondering when Toyota will stop acting like GM. Last February, none other than 84-year-old honorary chairman Shoichiro Toyoda (grandson of the company founder) upbraided 400 Toyota executives by asking them the same thing. “A person familiar with the meeting” told Bloomberg that Toyoda started out by asking lame-duck president Katsuaki Watanabe, “How many times have you made a mistake?” Then he went on to accuse the group of chasing sales and profits and letting Toyota emulate GM and Chrysler by becoming “addicted” to big cars and trucks while ignoring “the customers’ need to save money.”
This came just a month after the announcement that Toyoda’s son, Akio, would replace Watanabe. Akio assumes his new post tomorrow at a shareholder meeting. And he’ll have his work cut out for him, with Hyundai/Kia nipping at their heels in the economy market around the world, Honda launching an attack on the hybrid homefront, the Texas Tundra plant becoming a black hole when the pickup market crashed, and the Lexus cash cow drying up.
At least someone called them out on it, so they know what they have to do. You can only imagine what could have happened if one of GM’s past chairmen would have had the balls to confront GM’s president and executive leadership like this. Nah, you’re right . . . nothing.