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Shoichiro Toyoda, who brought Toyota to the US amid anti-Japanese sentiment, dies at 97

via Nippon TV News 24 Japan

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    Toyota’s former president Shoichiro Toyoda died due to heart failure at the age of 97 on Feb. 14. 

    Shoichiro, the son of Toyota Motor Corp founder Kiichiro Toyoda and father of current chief executive Akio Toyoda, will be remembered as a pivotal figure in the car manufacturer’s history.

    Kiichiro established Toyota Motor in 1937, which was spun off from an automatic loom business begun by his own father, Sakichi. The family decided to change the “d” in Toyoda to a “t” in the company name to make it more aesthetically pleasing when written in Japanese.

    During Shoichiro’s tenure as president of the company from 1981 to 1992, he led the company during a period of rapid growth, overseeing its entry into the North American market at the height of anti-Japanese sentiment.

    Under Shoichiro’s leadership, Toyota’s sales in the US increased by 49% from 711,993 vehicles sold in 1981 to 1.1 million vehicles in 1990, while global sales increased by 39% from 3.34 million vehicles in 1981 to 4.64 million in 1992.

    Despite steering the company at a time when Japanese exporters were accused of taking American blue-collar jobs, Shoichiro’s leadership helped the company become an asset to the local economy.

    The company’s rapid expansion in the U.S. also ignited the local market and boosted economic growth as consumers found value in the brand for its quality, durability, cost-effectiveness, and engineering.

    Shoichiro was recognized for his significant contributions to Toyota and the automotive industry when he was inducted into the U.S. Automotive Hall of Fame in 2007. 

    Following his tenure as Toyota’s chief executive, he assumed the position of the head of Japan’s most influential business association in 1994. In this role, he played a significant part in the country’s initiatives to combat the economic slowdown that emerged at the time.

    Shoichiro became Toyota Motor Co.’s honorary chairman in 1999.


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