Having led the company his father founded into American auto manufacturing and international expansion, Shoichiro Toyoda, the former president of Toyota, died on February 14 at the age of 97, due to heart failure.
After taking over as Toyota’s president in 1982, Toyoda helped the company transition into a major international automaker, particularly in the U.S. market, where its name came to stand for quality, durability, cost performance, and engineering finesse.
From 1981 to 1992, he served as Toyota’s president, overseeing the company’s entry into North American manufacturing and the launch of the Lexus luxury brand.
Whereas, father and son both lived through the difficult era of “Japan-bashing,” when strong Japanese exporters like Toyota were held responsible for the loss of American blue-collar jobs.
The company chose to join the American car industry, demonstrating that Toyota was an asset to the country’s citizens by generating employment and value.
Although Toyota has had several top executives who were not members of its founding family, the firm relied on the history and historical charisma of the founding family to see it through difficult times.
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Shoichiro Toyoda was acknowledged for his contributions to “Toyota’s position as one of the most renowned and celebrated vehicle manufacturers in the world” by being inducted into the U.S. Automotive Hall of Fame in 2007.
Sales of the manufacturer in the United States increased by 49% from 711,993 when he took office in 1981 to 1.1 million vehicles in 1990 before falling back to 1 million when he left office in the recession year of 1992. Toyota’s rapid international expansion in the 1980s was supported by the booming U.S. market. From 3.34 million vehicles sold worldwide in 1981 to 4.64 million in 1992, a 39% increase.
The first Toyota assembly factories in North America contributed to the U.S. boom. In order to test the market, General Motors and New United formed a joint venture in Fremont, California, in 1984.
The following facility opened in Georgetown, Kentucky, four years later, and it is still Toyota’s largest plant in North America, producing 504,213 vehicles in 2013.
Nevertheless, the funeral for Toyoda was held for close family. According to Toyota, his “farewell” event will take place at a later time.
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