• Jun 22, 2009
During the reign of company President Katsuaki Watanabe, Toyota became the number one automaker in the world, along with amassing $52 billion in cash and marketable securities. That sounds like one of the most amazing runs in the history of the automotive industry, but it's more than a little disappointing to company scion Shoichiro Toyoda.
The 84 year-old Toyoda is apparently the mild-mannered type, but Bloomberg is reporting that he read the riot act to Watanabe and his fellow execs. The news agency's sources say that Toyoda railed Watanabe for being "so anxious to boost sales and profits that he'd let Toyota emulate bankrupt General Motors." Toyoda also reportedly chastised execs for becoming too dependent on large and expensive cars, trucks and SUVs, saying, "customers need to save money."

Toyota may have made $17.7 billion in 2007, but the $4.5 billion it lost in 2008 and the $5.7 billion it expects to shed in 2009 shows that Toyoda may be on to something. If the company is to turn around in the next few years, though, it'll have to come at the hand of another Toyoda. Shoichiro's son Akio takes over as president on Tuesday.

[Source: Bloomberg | Image Source: AFP/Getty]


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  • 31 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Toyota also needs to bring back reliability to its previous levels. They have been slipping in reliability for the past few years.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Ummmm guys, that's Akio pictured; he's 52. If 84-year-old Shoichiro looked like that, I would have fainted.
      Anyway, Shoichiro has a point. If you look at Toyota's current products like the Yaris, Corolla, Camry, and Tundra, all of them have utter trash for interiors versus their immediate predecessors (which were very well put together) as well as versus their main competitors Honda, Hyundai, and Mazda. The Tundra as well as Toyota's other trucks and SUVs have been subject to numerous recalls for mechanical failures and sludge among other things. On the other hand, Honda, Hyundai, and Mazda have wisely chosen not to seek the top sales numbers and instead focus on virtues like sportiness, class-leading interiors, lasting value, and reliability.
      This is why I haven't liked Toyota of late and I sincerely hope it changes under the leadership of Akio Toyoda.
      • 5 Years Ago
      ".. becoming too dependent on large and expensive cars, trucks and SUVs .."

      Nail on the head. They've allowed their low end models like the Corolla and Camry fall behind the class.

      I've been saying exactly what he said for some time now.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The GM-ification of Toyota. It killed GM, it will kill Toyota too.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Honestly, the fact that it took them this long, to wonder aloud on this issue is indicative of their impending reckoning. I guess he read the comments here regarding the Camry refresh...

      Refreshed 2010 Toyota Camry to start at $20,115

      Joe K. 12:45PM (2/14/2009)

      I was working at a Toyota Dealer for the launch in 02 and 06. The quality difference between an 01 and an 08 is astounding. It is so clear that this car was built en masse to get Toyota to #1 in the world in sales, versus their old model of building solid cars and building sales through reputation.

      The new Camrys are the withdrawal by Toyota on their savings account that was invested in Quality, dependability and reliability...


      Len_A 3:39PM (2/14/2009)

      Which reinforces what many of my relatives who work for one of the Detroit 3 said when I would raze them about GM, Ford, and Chrysler's quality verses Toyota's - the universal response was "Wait until they try hit our production numbers." I used to think it was just sour grapes, but your comments back up what they said eight years ago. Doing a Yahoo search on the word "Toyota Engine Sludge" yields even more information on bad Toyota's quality has fallen.
      • 5 Years Ago
      If you get past all the business lingo and whatnot, business is quite simple. For a company to survive, it must: 1) Sell products that it makes 2) Turn a profit on those products. If you can't do that selling small cars, you will have the same problem if you can't do it selling big cars.
        • 5 Years Ago
        yup, they became lazy selling larger products at a higher margin, just like GM, just as Toyoda is mentioning. It'll be fun watching them adapt.
      • 5 Years Ago
      One other thing:
      Anyone see the news Lexus IS ad with the 4-days-without-a-shave idiot grinning while doing burn outs?
      Big mistake, IMHO...My first reaction (and I love cars!) is that this guy has got to be a real a$$$$$$e. Why not something that shows how the IS handles on a road course?

      Can anyone imagine a German automaker doing this kind of "burnout" ad?

      Time for Toyota to look for a new ad agency.
      • 5 Years Ago
      he looks very young for his age
        • 5 Years Ago
        Well Yoda is like 800 years old. But I remember him as being much greener than depicted and he talked in weird kind of English.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Or maybe he's the inspiration for Toyota's long-lasting, quality-built cars amde with age-defying components.....
        • 5 Years Ago
        I should have posted this earlier. Pictured is Akio, the soon-to-be president of the company; he's 52. His father, 84-year-old Shoichiro, was the one quoted above; he's NOT the one pictured.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Of course, he's asian.....
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why should we think Toyota is fixed just because it will be run by a family member. What are his qualifications?
      • 5 Years Ago
      value, reliability, longevity. all good. Design and colors suck... Handling and price suck..

      ToyoBuick
      • 5 Years Ago
      and their claim that they can quickly shift production to fit what sells isn't as easy when you become a giant
      it was when they were up adn coming, but now they just sell appliances as cars, cause they have nothing i'd like to have or that the competition isn't doing it better then they are.

      • 5 Years Ago
      Mabye if they spend the next 30 years creating trash like GM has done.
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