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Former Toyota PR Chief Hamp Released By Japanese Prosecutors

Exec had been held 20 days without charges for alleged drug abuse.

by on Jul.08, 2015

Julie Hamp joined Toyota in 2012 and was named head of global communications in April.

After 20 days in a Tokyo jail, former Toyota Motor Corp. global communications chief Julie Hamp was released by Japanese prosecutors Wednesday without being charged for allegedly importing the narcotic painkiller oxycodone without official permission.

While the 55-year-old New York native will not have to face trial – something that could have led to up to 10 years in prison – she was forced to resign from a position that made her not only one of the most prominent foreigners in the Japanese business world but the highest-ranking woman in a traditionally closed society.

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That has raised questions about whether her detention and well-publicized raids on three Toyota offices had anything to do with her gender and nationality. Clearly, from statements made by government officials, Hamp was held up as an example.

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Japanese Authorities Reportedly Will Not Charge ex-Toyota Exec

Was Julie Hamp targeted as foreigner, woman?

by on Jul.07, 2015

Former Toyota Motor Corp. PR chief Julie Hamp was - briefly - the most senior woman in the Japanese business world.

(This story has been updated to include mention of the U.S. ambassador to Japan’s involvement in the Hamp case.)

Japanese authorities are expected to release Julie Hamp, the 55-year-old American who until last week had served as Toyota Motor Co.’s global communications chief – and who had been the highest-ranking woman in the company.

The 55-year-old Hamp had been held in a Tokyo jail since June 18th when she was arrested for allegedly bringing the drug oxycodone into Japan illegally. Authorities subsequently raided three different Toyota offices, including its headquarters in Toyota City. While the maker’s President Akio Toyoda voiced his support for Hamp shortly after her arrest, the New York-born executive last week tendered her resignation.

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“The prosecutors appeared to have taken into consideration the fact that the 55-year-old American’s act was not malicious and that she has already resigned from the post at the Japanese automaker,” the Kyodo news service wrote on its English-language website, citing “investigative sources.”

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Toyota PR Chief Resigns Following Drug Arrest

Julie Hamp, Toyota’s top female exec, still in jail.

by on Jul.01, 2015

Julie Hamp was named head of global communications at Toyota in April.

Two weeks after being arrested for allegedly importing prescription drugs into Japan, Toyota Motor Co.’s global public relations director – and its top female executive – has resigned.

Julie Hamp remains in jail, according to reports from Japan where the law allows police to detain a suspect for up to 23 days without bringing charges.

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In a statement, the world’s largest automaker said that it has “accepted her resignation after considering the concerns and inconvenience that recent events have caused our stakeholders.”

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Return of the Lexus SC?

Based on LF-LC concept, new supercar could nudge above 600-hp.

by on Jun.30, 2015

The Lexus LF-LC concept shown in Australia.

The Lexus SC nameplate has gone through a number of major iterations over the years, from the original sporty coupe to a quirky hardtop convertible and, if new reports prove accurate, it’s about to change again, this time becoming the production version of the LF-LC supercar concept.

Expected to reach showrooms sometime late next year, the next-generation Lexus SC would also serve as a long-awaited replacement for the brand’s first, limited-volume halo car, the Lexus LFA. Some sources suggest the new model will be offered in several different versions, including one that would push somewhere north of 600 horsepower.

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The revival of the SC as a new, high-performance flagship would fit in with the mandate of Toyota Motor Co. President Akio Toyoda, who has commanded that there be more “passion” in the luxury brand. How much you’d have to pay is a question generating plenty of debate, with some guesstimating it will nudge into $150,000 territory.

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Police Raid Toyota Offices After Drug Arrest of PR Chief

by on Jun.23, 2015

Toyota Motor Co. PR chief Julie Hamp.

Japanese Police today raided several Toyota offices, including its headquarters, following the arrest of the automaker’s top global public relations executive for drug law violations.

The company declined to comment on the latest action by authorities in the wake of Julie Hamp’s arrest on June 18th. She is suspected of importing the narcotic pain killer oxycodone into Japan in a package Hamp reportedly mailed to herself from the United States.

After initially being hired to run PR in the U.S. in 2012, Hamp was appointed global communications director this past March, moving to Japan where she has been living in a Tokyo hotel for several months. She is not only the highest-ranking woman at Toyota but also one of the few to reach that level in all of Japan.

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Toyota CEO Publicly Apologizes for Hamp Arrest

Toyoda expresses faith in executive’s innocence.

by on Jun.19, 2015

Toyota's Akio Toyoda apologized during a press conference today for not providing arrested executive Julie Hamp with more help in her relocation to Japan.

If Toyota had done a better job in assisting its top communications executive with her relocation to Japan, she might have avoided arrest for violating the country’s laws on controlled substances, the maker’s CEO suggested today.

Julie Hamp, chief communications officer, was arrested after she attempted to mail herself 57 oxycodone pills. They were found by authorities in an envelope with other personal items, according to reports.

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During a press conference earlier today, Toyota President Akio Toyoda apologized for the incident and confirmed the company’s belief that Hamp had no intent of breaking the law. (more…)

Toyota Reportedly Planning Radical, 3-Seat Sports Car

Concept said to be on tap for Tokyo Motor Show.

by on May.27, 2015

Toyota has been studying a number of extreme options, including the i-Road commuter car.

Ever since he came onboard as the top executive at a company long known for its sturdy and reliable – but plain vanilla – products, Akio Toyoda has been pressing his team to pump some “passion” into its line-up.

Toyota has offered some hints of what’s in store with concepts like the exotic FT-1, as well as more stylish production models such as the Lexus RC coupe. But now, it seems, the Japanese giant is ready to take things to the next level.

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A variety of sources have indicated that Toyota will roll out a new sports car concept at the Tokyo Motor Show next October. But this isn’t just a new version of the Lexus RC – or even a production version of the FT-1. The open-wheeler apparently will have room for three and use a high-performance hybrid drivetrain.

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Sales Down But Earnings Up for Toyota

Japanese giant benefits from cost-cutting, weak yen.

by on Nov.06, 2013

Toyota is counting on the new Corolla to help it boost earnings in the months ahead.

Toyota Motor Co.’s quarterly earnings soared by 70% despite slightly softer sales, reflecting the Japanese giant’s cost-cutting efforts as well as the impact of the weak yen.

Toyota increased its earnings forecast for the full fiscal year after posting a $438.4 billion yen, or $4.4 billion, profit for the July – September period, up from 257.9 billion yen a year ago. The world’s largest automaker now expects to generate a 1.67 trillion yen profit for the fiscal year that ends on March 31, 2014.

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“In addition to the impact of the weaker yen, operating income increased due to our efforts with our suppliers and distributors for profit improvement through cost reduction and marketing activities, such as enhancement of the model mix.,” said Nobuyori Kodaira, Toyota’s executive vice president, in a statement.

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Father of Toyota Production System, Eiji Toyoda, Dead at 100

Took Japanese maker from regional player to global giant.

by on Sep.18, 2013

Former Toyota Pres. Eiji Toyoda shakes hands with GM Chairman Roger Smith, left, as they give the go to a new joint venture that marked Toyota's first manufacturing operation in the U.S.

Though long retired, Eiji Toyoda continued to have an influence on Japan’s biggest automaker right up to his death at 100.

Indeed, it was during his time leading Toyota Motor Co. that the automaker transformed itself from an ambitious, Japanese wannabe into a true, global force that would eventually overcome powerful competitors like General Motors to become the world’s largest automotive manufacturer.

While running the company founded by his cousin – originally as a loom maker – Eiji Toyoda helped create the “Toyota Way,” a hyper-efficient manufacturing system that many of those competitors today have copied in a bid to catch up to the Japanese giant.

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“We mourn the loss of automotive pioneer Eiji Toyoda, whose contributions and leadership helped make Toyota what it is today,” said the automaker in a notice on its media site.

Toyoda’s death came five days after he marked his 100th birthday. He was being treated at the Toyota Memorial Hospital, in Toyota City, a medical facility originally founded in 1938 to treat company workers.

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Toyota Earnings Nearly Double

Strong sales surge also put it #2 spot in U.S. market.

by on Aug.02, 2013

Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda, shown here during the launch of the Lexus GS, wants more "passion" in the maker's products.

It’s been a great week for Toyota Motor Co. A day after revealing a strong sales surge that positioned it – at least briefly – as the number two maker in the U.S. market, the Japanese giant announced that earnings for the April – June quarter nearly doubled year-over-year.

The 93% increase reflects a variety of factors, including the impact of the weakening yen, and came despite continued challenges in China, the world’s largest automotive market. The strong performance during the first quarter of Toyota’s fiscal year led the automaker to up its forecast for the months ahead. But Toyota officials did sound at least a small note of caution.

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Toyota beat estimates for both its first-quarter profit and sales, based on a consensus gathered by FactSet. April – June earnings came in at 562.1 billion yen, or $5.6 billion. Revenues were up 13.7%, meanwhile, to 6.25 trillion yen.

That encouraged the maker to boost its full-year earnings forecast to 1.48 trillion yen, which would be a 54% year-over-year gain. And Toyota now expects to reach an all-time industry record for production, at 10.1 million. It expects sales to be a slightly more modest 9.96 million, a target it had announced previously.

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