It’s now been a week since the passing of former Toyota president & Lexus founder Eiji Toyoda, and today, James B. Treece from Automotive News has published an insightful memorial:
When the Korean War broke out in 1950, the U.S. military decided that rather than scrap Toyota’s truck factories, as had been the Occupation’s plan, they needed them to supply the United Nations forces fighting in Korea. So they sent Eiji, who had helped set up his family’s vehicle manufacturing company, to Detroit to learn from Ford Motor Co.
Eiji studied Ford and eventually concluded that while Toyota was dramatically smaller than Ford and didn’t have Ford’s ingrained heritage of mass production, the Japanese company wasn’t all that far behind the U.S. automaker in many basic measures of manufacturing.
So he went back to Japan and made Toyota better. Making the company better would become his life’s work.
Please take a moment to read over Treece’s thoughtful obituary of Mr. Toyoda — it honors a remarkable man who has left an incredible legacy.