Former Toyota president Tatsuro Toyoda passed away December 30, 2017 at 88 years old. Tatsuro was the son of the company’s first president Kiichiro Toyoda. He joined the Toyota group in 1953 after earning a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Tokyo. He became the president of Toyota in the 1990’s spearheading Toyota’s rapid expansion on an international level. Some say, his greatest achievement was the role he played in the New United Motor Manufacturing (NUMMI) facility. He was the driving force behind the ground-breaking collaboration between General Motors and Toyota. It was difficult to try and introduce Japanese manufacturing to a unionized American workforce, but Tatsuro had a way of combining the cultures together. This paved the way for Toyota to later open their own plants in North America.
The name Toyoda was changed to Toyota because the number of strokes to write Toyota in Japanese (eight) was thought to bring prosperity.
Motohiro Kunisawa, motor critic and author, had this to say about Toyota’s seventh president:
Mr. Toyoda was a very humble man who always had time for a chat. But he was also a very intelligent man and a brilliant CEO. He graduated from Japan’s top university and then learned about quality control in America, a process he later employed to create the world’s leading production system. He led the NUMMI project, which taught Americans a totally different way of doing manufacturing.”
“Through his many postings around the world, not least his stint as company president, he proceeded to create the strong industry-leading foundations on which Toyota finds itself today. His legacy is one reason why Toyota’s products are so celebrated in the U.S. and around the world. And he was also the president who green-lighted Toyota’s industry-changing move to introduce the Prius hybrid in the late 90s, which transformed powertrains globally.
A private service was held for Tatsuro Toyoda but the company plans to hold a farewell gathering at a later date.