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Shoichiro Toyoda, Toyota’s Honorary Chairman and Expansion Pioneer, Passes Away at 97

Shoichiro Toyoda was instrumental in the rise of Toyota in the U.S.

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Aditya Saikrishna
Aditya Saikrishna
I am 21 years old and an avid Motorsports enthusiast.

JAPAN: The world of automobiles mourns the passing of Shoichiro Toyoda, the man who helped transform Toyota from a humble Japanese carmaker into a global automotive powerhouse.

The company’s honorary chairman passed away on Tuesday, aged 97, due to heart failure.

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As the eldest son of Toyota’s founder, Kiichiro Toyoda, Shoichiro took the company’s reins in 1982 as its president. 

During his tenure, he led Toyota’s expansion into international markets, especially in the critical U.S. market, where the brand’s reputation for quality, durability, and engineering finesse became legendary.

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Father and son, Shoichiro and Akio, faced the challenging years of “Japan-bashing” in the 1980s, when Japanese exporters were accused of taking away American blue-collar jobs. 

The father-son duo worked hard to show Toyota’s commitment to the American auto community, creating jobs and value for the American people.

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Together with his brother Tatsuro, Shoichiro played a crucial role in establishing Toyota’s manufacturing facilities in North America. 

In 1983, the company formed a joint venture with General Motors to set up New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI) in Fremont, California, which rolled out its first vehicle the following year.

Shoichiro Toyoda’s legacy and charisma helped Toyota weather many crises over the years, even though the company had many chief executives who were not part of its founding family. 

In 2007, he was inducted into the U.S. Automotive Hall of Fame in recognition of his contributions to cementing Toyota’s reputation as one of the world’s leading automakers.

According to Toyota, Shoichiro earned the respect of his fellow employees by working alongside them in factories. 

His commitment reflected the company’s commitment to valuing the workplace and what is happening on the ground, known as “genba,” as critical for morale, efficient production, innovation, and quality.

From its humble beginnings when Kiichiro Toyoda first expressed his desire to build cars in 1933, Toyota has come a long way. 

Today, the “Toyota Way” is widely recognised as the best production method in the auto industry. 

Toyota’s portfolio includes some of the world’s most popular and beloved models, such as the Prius hybrid, the Camry sedan, and the Lexus luxury line.

Shoichiro Toyoda’s family held a funeral for him, and a “farewell” event in his honour is being planned for a later date. 

The automotive world has lost a visionary leader. Still, Shoichiro Toyoda’s legacy will undoubtedly continue to inspire future generations of Toyota employees to uphold the company’s values of innovation, quality, and commitment to the people.

Also Read: Audi Acquires Minority Stake in Sauber as Preparation for F1 Debut in 2026


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