Eiji Toyoda, a member of Toyota Motor’s founding family who helped develop the company’s “lean manufacturing” ethos, died on Tuesday in Toyota City, Japan, where the manufacturer is based. He was 100. A Toyota statement said Toyoda died of heart failure.
Nephew of Toyota Group founder, Sakichi Toyoda, Eiji Toyoda was president of Toyota from 1967-82 and remained honorary chairman and an adviser to the company until his death.
It was under his direction that Toyota first added compact vehicles and sports cars to its lineup in the 1960s and 1970s, boosting Toyota’s international profile. He was also instrumental in the decision to create a luxury brand, Lexus, in the 1980s to compete with the likes of Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
Mr. Toyoda spent his early career in manufacturing operations and supervising activities on the shop floor, such as machining work and participating in production planning. A director at Toyota since 1945, he remained in the manufacturing side of the company’s operations when Toyota Motor Sales Co., Ltd. was established in 1950 to handle sales and marketing operations. He became vice president of Toyota Motor Co., Ltd., in 1960 and president in 1967.
When the Toyota production and marketing organizations were merged to form TMC in 1982, Mr. Toyoda assumed the chairmanship of the board. He served until 1992, and then served as honorary chairman from 1992 to 1999. Mr. Toyoda became honorary advisor of TMC in 1999.