| TOKYO, Sept 17
TOKYO, Sept 17 Eiji Toyoda, who helped steer
Toyota Motor Corp's global rise and pioneered the
automaker's vaunted production system, died on Tuesday, the
Japanese automaker said. He was 100.
Toyoda, cousin of the automaker's founder, died of heart
failure in Toyota City, the company said in a statement.
A taciturn engineer, Toyoda served as president between 1967
and 1982. He was chairman until 1994 and remained an honorary
advisor at Toyota up until the time of his death.
Over his career, Toyoda presided over Toyota's rise in the
U.S. market from the launch of the Corolla in the late 1960s to
the decision to begin making cars in the United States in the
Toyoda was also instrumental in developing what became the
automaker's much-imitated method of producing cars with as
little waste as possible and continual quality improvements, a
system that became known as the "Toyota Way".
In 1950, company founder Kiichiro Toyoda sent Eiji, a
graduate of the University of Tokyo, to Ford Motor Co's
massive Rouge Plant to learn about car making from the company
that had pioneered mass production.
In a story that is still shared at Toyota training sessions,
Toyoda returned to Japan impressed with U.S. materials and
machinery but convinced that he could make improvements to
Ford's world-famous production system.
"Japan's automobile industry facilities and engineers are
good but our machine tools are inferior. If we can solve this
problem, we can manufacture good and economic vehicles that are
equal to America's," Toyoda wrote after his month and a half of
training at Ford's major factories.
At the time of his death, Toyoda was being treated at a
hospital the company had first founded as a clinic for its
factory workers in 1938.