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Successful Entrepreneur - Eiji Toyoda


Eiji Toyoda or name in kanji 豊田英二 was born at 12 September 1913 near Nagoya in
Japan. He was a prominent Japanese industrialist, and was largely responsible for
bringing Toyota Motor Corporation to profitability and worldwide prominence during his
tenure as CEO and later Chairman, a position he held until 1994. Born into a family of
textile manufacturers, Eiji Toyoda is the son of Heihachi Toyoda, the brother of Toyoda
Loom Works founder Sakichi Toyoda.


Eiji Toyoda was studied engineering at Tokyo Imperial University from 1933 to 1936.
During this time Toyoda's cousin Kiichiro established an automobile plant at the Toyoda
Automatic Loom Works. Toyoda joined his cousin in the plant at the conclusion of his
degree and throughout their lives, shared a deep friendship. In 1936 the company
changed its name from Toyoda Automatic Loom Works to Toyota, and its first cars rolled
off the production line that year, built from General Motors parts and components.

Japan's entry into World War II in 1941 required that Toyota's production capacity was
redirected towards the manufacture of trucks for Japanese imperial forces. At the
conclusion of the war, Toyoda expected the occupational force's restrictions on zaibatsu
to affect Toyota. Instead, Japan's reconstruction required the Toyota car plant to build
vehicles to assist in this task. Despite the boost in production, Toyota was close to
insolvency in the immediate post-war period, and was spared dissolution by massive
workforce reductions.


Toyoda visited Ford's plant at Dearborn, Michigan during the early 1950s. Toyota had
been in the business of the manufacture of cars for 13 years at this stage, and had
produced just over 2,500 automobiles. The Ford plant in contrast manufactured 8,000
vehicles a day. Toyoda decided to adopt US automobile mass production methods.

By 1955, Toyota had started mass producing the Crown, which was a success in Japan,
but had little impact on the US market upon its introduction in 1957. By the 1960s,
however, Toyota Coronas and Corollas had achieved substantial market penetration in the
US. By 1975 Toyota had replaced Volkswagen as the number one imported car in the
United States.


In 1960 Toyota proposed a joint venture with Ford to manufacture automobiles in Japan.
The original proposal was for a 40-40-20 deal, with 20 percent ownership allocated for
the distributor in Japan. That was later increased to allow Ford 50 percent, but again the
deal was rejected for a variety of reasons. Eiji Toyoda said that "Ford's method of turning
us down left a lot to be desired." Toyota attempted again in 1980, shortly before the
Reagan administration imposed voluntary restraint agreements on Japanese auto imports.

Toyota then proposed joint production of automobiles in the United States. "We
attempted to form ties with Ford on a total of four occasions before and after the war, and
in each case nothing came of our efforts," Toyoda wrote. "I suppose that we were never
meant to become partners." In 2001, Ford CEO Jacques Nasser met with Toyota CEO
Hiroshi Okuda and proposed a joint venture between the two companies in small car

In 1983, NUMMI (New United Motor Manufacturing) was opened as a joint venture with
General Motors and produces the Corolla and vehicles based on it. In 1987, Toyota
opened its first wholly-owned North American plant in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada. The
following year, Toyota's first wholly-owned U.S. plant opened in Georgetown, Kentucky.
Toyota added another U.S. plant in 1998 in Princeton, Indiana, and is scheduled to open
another plant in San Antonio, Texas in 2006.

In 1983, Toyoda decided to compete in the luxury car market, and by 1990 had
introduced the Lexus.


Toyota is now the leading car manufacturer in Japan, and the second biggest car maker in
the world (being only behind General Motors).

Toyoda stepped down as chairman of Toyota in 1994.