He is the longest-serving Toyota president in the brand’s history. Taking Toyota to a level where it is today, Eiji Toyoda died recently at the age of 100. A cousin of Toyota founder Kiichiro Toyoda, he ran the company from 1967 to 1982; a total of 15 years. He then served as the company’s chairman until 1994 and as an honorary advisor all the way to his final breath.
Other than being known as the one responsible in leading Toyota’s dominance in the automotive industry, he was also the one who led the development of the world-famous Corolla nameplate in 1966. And his effort in pushing Toyota to develop luxury vehicles is largely rewarded with the birth of what is known now as the Lexus brand.
When Toyoda first started, the brand was still producing cars using parts sourced from General Motors. Upon his appointment as a director for Toyota in 1945, the mechanical engineering degree holder from the University of Tokyo helped transform Toyota into the world’s biggest automaker. He developed “The Toyota Way” for manufacturing, where cars are subjected to just-in-time production to cut waste and empower workers for continuous improvement.
Toyoda passed away at a ripe age of 100 from a heart attack in a hospital originally established by Toyota as a medical center for its workers back in 1938. The company is now being run by Akio Toyoda, the grandson of Toyota’s founder.