Shoichiro Toyoda, Architect Of Lexus And Toyota's US Introduction, Has Died Aged 97

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The automaker grew from strength to strength under the late honorary chairperson's control.

Shoichiro Toyoda, former chairman of the Toyota Motor Corporation and father of Akio Toyoda, has died. He was 97 years old.

The Japanese automaker announced that Toyoda had passed away from heart failure on February 14. He is survived by his son, Akio Toyoda, who recently stepped down as CEO of the automotive giant. Shoichiro Toyoda was born in Nagoya City, Japan on February 27, 1925, to Kiichiro Toyoda, the founder of the world's biggest automaker.

The late honorary chairperson joined his father's company in 1952 and quickly worked his way through the ranks. By 1981, Shoichiro was appointed president of Toyota's marketing division, one year before the sale and production sectors would merge.

As the first president of the Toyota Motor Corporation, Shoichiro's excellent leadership is credited with bringing these distinct groups together and creating a successful merger.


In the 1990s, Toyoda became chairman of the company and served in this role for seven years, before becoming an honorary chairman before the turn of the millennium.

During his time at the wheel of the Japanese giant, Shoichiro was responsible for introducing the brand into North America, which is now one of Toyota's most important markets. Elsewhere, the industrialist was instrumental in introducing the Lexus nameplate to the world, along with the pioneering Toyota Prius.

He recalled just how important the Lexus LS was in a newspaper column series titled My Personal History, reports Automotive News (AN).

"We asked for precision that exceeded the limits of machine tools in those days, and the production technology side said it was impossible," wrote Toyoda in 2014. "We could exceed Mercedes and BMW in [the] precision of joint fitting by using robots on a mass-production line. Mercedes and BMW were processing it manually. It challenged the very norms of manufacturing."

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With production facilities across the world, Toyota produces an array of models in North America, including the Corolla, Sienna, and Camry. Through Shoichiro's vision and extraordinary leadership, the Japanese brand has become a household name and a byword for reliability.

In a 2007 speech in Washington, the humble magnate said, "we owe a great deal of thanks to America for our sense of the importance of quality." To this day, the Japanese company remains one of the strongest sellers in the United States and was beaten only by General Motors last year. When it comes to global sales, though, Toyota remains in the lead.

A funeral service will be held for close family members, but there are plans for a more public farewell gathering at a later date. Shoichiro Toyoda will be greatly missed, but his legacy will live on in Toyota vehicles across the world.


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