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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.


Toyota Freezing Plant Construction

Maker reportedly ordering 3-year hold.

by on Jan.10, 2013

According to a new report, Toyota wants to improve the efficiency of existing plants, not add new ones.

Toyota is planning to halt the construction of new plants around the world for at least the next three years, according to reports coming out of Japan. The decision represents a shift from Toyota’s previous policy of building new plants almost annually.

Officials from the Japanese auto giant have not commented directly on the reports. “I cannot discuss our business plans, but we consider it important to boost investment efficiency to secure medium-to- long-term growth,” a Toyota spokesman said.

Toyota, which last year again became the world’s largest automaker, would concentrate its capital investment on existing factories, the Nikkei business daily said.

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The company could officially announce the decision in a new management plan to be released in the coming months, Jiji Press said, as part of an overall effort to increase efficiency and cut costs. Like other Japanese carmakers, Toyota has been under intense pressure to control costs because of the steady increase in the valuation of the yen.


High Cost NUMMI Plant on Chopping Block

Historic UAW contract expires next month, and its only California presence hangs in the balance.

by on Jul.21, 2009


Toyota has never closed a plant anywhere.

As Toyota Motor Corporation ponders the fate of New United Motors Manufacturing Inc. in Fremont, California in the San Francisco Bay Area, the United Auto Workers is fighting to protect is last foothold in manufacturing on the West Coast.

UAW officials have confirmed that the union has been holding talks with Toyota about NUMMI, after Toyota said the plant is no longer competitive because of its location and labor costs. With the cessation of production of the Pontiac Vibe, and General Motors Company’s announcement that it is abandoning its share of NUMMI, the future of the huge plant, already working at partial capacity, is tenuous at best. Toyota owns 50% of the plant. 

The NUMMI plant, which has more than 5,400 employees, including 4,500 union members, has the capacity to build more than 420,000 cars and trucks annually. 

NUMMI is also the only automotive assembly plant operating in California where the unemployment rate now hovers at more than 11%. The San Francisco congressional delegation includes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrat George Miller, the chairman of the House Committee on Labor and Education.

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“We need to determine whether it can be economically feasible to contract with NUMMI without GM. Under the current business circumstances, Toyota regrettably must also consider taking necessary steps to dissolve the joint venture,” the Japanese automaker said in a statement.

Toyota has never closed a plant anywhere in the world.