Products. Employees. Employers. Services. Alliances. Joint Ventures. Financiers. Even the executives of multinational firms along with their board of directors are only as good as whatever quarterly numbers can be cooked up by their ‘independent’ auditing firm.
Capitalism is the ultimate “Let’s go!”, “Do it!” and “Screw you!” of economic systems. You name the angle or need in capitalism, and chances are that there is a market substitute that can immediately fill the gap. Even government regulations can be routinely challenged by trade organizations, international courts, and the all too common political handshake.
Toyota Motor Corp. said in a statement that Eiji Toyoda, the man responsible for growing Toyota into a global powerhouse, died today. Toyoda had just turned 100 years old last week. The cause of death was listed as heart failure. Toyoda was a cousin of Kiichiro Toyoda, the founder of Japan’s largest car company and he took over management of the family business in 1967 and served as president until 1982, when Toyota Motor Co. and Toyota Sales were merged and he became chairman of the combined corporation, holding that position until 1992. (Read More…)
Both Akio Toyoda and Carlos Ghosn are in the U.S. and what are they doing here? They complain loudly about the high yen. Akio Toyoda uses an interesting reasoning. It may make Americans wish for an even higher yen. Toyota may shift a “significant” amount of production to the U.S., if the yen stays high, and if demand in Japan will fail to consume Toyota’s vast capacity there. If the majority of Toyota’s output is shipped overseas, then factories will follow.
“If demand in Japan recovers, we will continue and work to maintain production of 3 million units” in Japan, Akio Toyoda said to Bloomberg. “If most of it becomes exports, shifting a significant amount of production to the U.S. may be considered.” (Read More…)
Today, I went on a very early morning Shinkansen to Nagoya. The idea was to have me kind of certified as a Toyota-accredited journalist. I don’t know whether I qualified. I flunked the required rattling-off of the 12 Toyota plants in Japan. However, I was invited into Toyoda’s house. (Read More…)
A lot of people have been shaking their heads at the Toyota/Tesla deal. Was it just an elegant way to unload the NUMMI plant? As in “here are $50m, please buy my plant with it?” Or is it part of a grand strategy, the beginning of Toyota’s foray into an all-electric future? As usual, the truth is stranger than business plans. (Read More…)
Volkswagen may be much closer to its goal of surpassing Toyota as the world’s largest automaker. In an exclusive interview with The Nikkei [sub], Akio Toyoda said, Toyota will make its top priority the quality, not the number of the cars it makes.
So far, VW wanted to subjugate Toyota by 2018. But Toyota has decided to go slow. Said Toyoda-san: (Read More…)
Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda is a regular Japanese guy: Shy in public, but blogging on his computer every day. Using the handle “Morizou,” he blogs about his love for sports cars and auto racing on Gazoo.com, which he founded in 1998, if Todayonline has it right. Akio Toyoda is also an avid racer. His appearances at the 24 Hours Nürburgring endurance race in a Lexus LFA are legend. He is chickening out! (Read More…)
Back from his hibachi-tour to the hill, and a trip to China, Akio Toyoda this afternoon paid his respects to Japan’s Transport Minister Seiji Maehara, to Economy Minister Masayuki Naoshima, and to the man himself, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama. And what a difference it was compared to the enhanced interrogation in Washington. (Read More…)
Japanese reaction to the kabuki dance is muted. From the Asahi Shimbun to the Mainichi Shimbun, all papers refrain from any criticism of either side. Except for the occasional “Japan-bashing” comments by readers, officially everybody is carefully sidestepping that trap. Just as Toyoda did during yesterday’s grilling on the hill, when he said that Toyota is being treated fairly in the U.S., contrary to what his wrenching gut said.
Japan’s transport minister Seiji Maehara was likewise diplomatic. He said Thursday he is satisfied with the testimony, reports the The Nikkei [sub]: “As a Japanese and U.S. company, I hope Toyota will ensure accountability and will make efforts to regain the trust of customers.” (Read More…)
Akio Toyoda is spending the weekend in Japan, being prepped for his appearance in front of the modern day version of the tribunal of the Spanish Inquisition, better known as a Congressional Hearing.
According to Reuters, and as suggested by TTAC, Toyoda “is likely to undergo intense preparation. Toyota may hire lawyers to drill him with mock questions, one consultant said. A company source said it had not yet been decided whether Toyoda would speak in Japanese or English, but the company has already contacted some translation companies.”
The weekend drill was interrupted by the news that State Farm had informed the NHTSA as early as February 27, 2004, that the insurance company had five claims of unwanted acceleration in the 2002 Lexus ES 300 during the previous 12 months. Reuters broke the story, writing “the insurer said earlier this month it had contacted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in late 2007. However, prompted by the public interest in Toyota, the insurer reviewed its records again and has now found that it contacted safety regulators initially in 2004.” All hell broke loose … (Read More…)
Akio Toyoda is getting a crash course in cross-cultural studies, while he is preparing for his appearance on The Hill this coming Wednesday. Toyota already uncovered the time-tested Washington axiom: “We will fight it tooth and nail, but if we can’t stop it, we might as well dress for it.”
Saturday morning’s Nikkei [sub] greets its readers with the message that “Akio Toyoda’s appearance before Congress on Wednesday could be a chance for the embattled automaker to win back consumer trust in the U.S.”
Hedging a risky bet, the Nikkei adds: “But a poor performance could further undermine its reputation.” To avoid the latter, Toyoda is preparing to counter a three-pronged attack. (Read More…)
This was a rough night and day for Akio Toyoda, chief of the fishtailing Toyota. At around midnight, Tokyo time, the news reached Toyoda-sama that the Honorable Edolphus Towns (D., N.Y.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, had formally invited him for a visit on the hill.
This had followed a Japanese version of the “he loves me – he loves me not – he loves me.” It was made even more interesting by the botanical truism that the cherry blossom only has five petals to pick. Here, the chronicle of the deflowering … (Read More…)
As the search for clues to what went wrong with Toyota’s much-vaunted quality rolls on, Automotive News [sub] has discovered that Toyota discontinued top-level quality-focused meetings shortly after Akio Toyoda took over early last year. The “Customer First” quality meetings were instituted under Toyoda’s predecessor Katsuake Watanabe as a response to Toyota’s 2005 recalls. A Toyota executive involved with quality decisions at the time tells AN [sub] that the Watanabe-headed committee simply disappeared over time:
We saw that the whole company and each division understood what they need to do in terms of Customer First operation. It became a daily activity rather than a special activity. So they didn’t need an executive to instruct them. Because Customer First is something like a philosophy, Customer First activities themselves are continuing. But we don’t have an official organization like a committee.
Ironically, Toyoda used the term “Customer First” repeatedly in his comments to the Japanese press last week. How he squares that emphasis with the decision to cut an executive-level committee named for that phrase remains very much to be seen. Meanwhile, his motivations for cutting the program couldn’t be more obvious, as the slow-and-safe approach added months to vehicle development time.