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Akio Toyoda leads recovery from crises

recent profile of Toyota Motor Co. president Akio Toyoda in Fortune magazine noted that Toyoda, the grandson of the company's founder, "had coped remarkably well" in the aftermath of the devastating 2011 tsunami that halted production of its cars in Japan, and that the massive recalls of the company's cars in 2009, shortly after he took over, "had served as a wake-up call for a company grown complacent."

Author Alex Taylor III noted that Toyota, previously the world's largest automaker, in 2011 fell to third place in production behind General Motors and Volkswagen but is "connecting with customers again." He cited studies showing that Toyota cars are regaining a good reputation for quality and value.

Jeffrey Liker of the University of Michigan told Taylor that Toyoda "has reenergized the company."

Taylor reported that Toyoda frequently travels to the U.S. to meet with dealers and has personally taken charge of the Lexus brand, which has underperformed in Europe and is losing market share in the U.S.

The article said that Toyoda has revamped the company's management structure so that Japanese managers no longer tightly control all decisions. Toyoda also has reduced by half the number of directors on the board and removed layers of management. In addition, Taylor reported, Toyoda works closely with a group of five top executives.

Under Toyoda, the company no longer rotates its top executives among areas of the company; now they stay within their area of expertise, Taylor's report said. (Source: Fortune, Feb. 27, 2012.)



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