Toyota Losing Sanity Over the Automotive Industry's Uncertain Future

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
toyota losing sanity over the automotive industry s uncertain future

Toyota Motor Corp. is shuffling its management team because it’s worried about the automotive industry’s uncertain future. The changes, announced this week in Tokyo, take effect at the start of the new year. Toyota wants to diversify its corporate leadership in order to handle the changing shape of car building and the growing role of “mobility.”

However, an argument can be made that the company might be browning its pants prematurely. While the current nature of the automotive industry appears to be evolving into something else, it won’t happen overnight. Still, company president Akio Toyoda talks of the shifting winds as if someone has placed a gun to his head.

“Over the next 100 years, there is no guarantee that automobile manufacturers will continue to play leading roles in mobility,” Toyoda explained. “A crucial battle has begun — not one about winning or losing, but one about surviving or dying.”

“We will pursue alliances with other companies and other industries,” he continued. “But, before that, it is essential that we concentrate the capabilities of the Toyota Group. Our coming structural change reflects our will that the Toyota Group will tackle this era of profound transformation. This change includes the appointment of people with high levels of expertise, regardless of time with the company or age and from the perspective of having the right people in the right places.”

According to a Toyota press release, those all-important changes include more people from outside the company, a female executive at Lexus, additional non-Japanese executives, and executives with backgrounds in technical positions. The business also intends to renew the roles of executive vice presidents and establish the new post of “fellow” — which is reserved for executives with a high level of expertise.

Presumably, the intent is to get management more involved in the daily goings-on.

Toyota also plans to restructure its business planning and operation divisions rather extensively, especially in regard to how it handles regional activities. The goal here is to become more sensitive to specific regions’ needs while simultaneously remaining fluid and flexible — which sounds like a pretty tall order. If done incorrectly, this could create an inefficient bureaucratic nightmare.

The list of title changes is extensive, and not filled with quite so many “outsiders” as one might imagine. But the sun is only just beginning to rise over Toyota’s “next 100 years,” so we’d imagine more managerial changes are forthcoming. At the top of the pack, vice-chairman of Denso Koji Kobayashi will become Toyota’s CFO and executive vice president — as will Toyota senior managing officers Shigeki Tomoyama and Moritaka Yoshida. Gill A. Pratt, CEO of Toyota’s Research Institute, will become the company’s first “fellow” in the advanced R&D and engineering division.

Additional changes to management are considerable and often include expanding employee duties or condensing them into a single role. They also often serve to strengthen corporate ties between various Toyota Group companies, like Denso or Toyota Tsusho. If you’re interested in a complete breakdown of the restructuring, it’s available at Toyota’s corporate website. All in, the list includes 56 promotions and 121 individually named transfers.

“This is an era in which the correct answers are unknown,” said Toyoda. “Knowing that the customer comes first, we need to have people who understand the workplace well enough to lead with quick judgment, quick decisions and quick action through genchi genbutsu (on-site learning and problem-solving) as they see fit in response to all kinds of situations. To create forms of mobility to which people can feel intimately connected, and to be able to provide the freedom and joy of mobility to all people, everyone working for Toyota will unite in spirit and continuously take up new challenges.”

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  • ClutchW100 ClutchW100 on Nov 29, 2017

    Who know what we will imagine in 20 years?

  • White Shadow White Shadow on Mar 12, 2018

    My brother has a fairly high executive level position with Mercedes Benz and we were just talking about this the other day. According to him, MB is plenty worried about the future of the automobile and vehicle ownership in the future. Every car manufacturer has to be forward thinking and project sales for the foreseeable future. If they believe they will continue on a downward trend, steps should be taken now to ensure the future of the company. Just ask Kodak.

  • ToolGuy CXXVIII comments?!?
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.
  • ToolGuy Is it a genuine Top Hand? Oh, I forgot, I don't care. 🙂