Shoichiro Toyoda, Toyota Motor Corporation’s honorary chairmain, has died at the age of 97. Toyoda started his career with the automaker in 1952, focusing much of his experience on quality control and technology. He also earned a doctorate in engineering, writing his thesis on fuel injection.
Toyoda worked in various capacities for the automaker. He ascended to managing director in 1961, then senior managing director in 1967 and executive vice president in 1972. He was named Toyota sales operation president in 1981. When the company’s sales and production organizations merged in 1982, the automaker appointed him president of the newly formed Toyota Motor Corporation. Toyoda served as chairman of the board of directors from 1992 to 1999. He was on the board for another decade, and in 2009 stepped down to become the honorary chairman of the automotive giant.
Toyoda was also an honorary chairman for Kaiyo Academy and the Japan Business Federation, and he was an honorary advisor for the Automobile Business Association of Japan starting in 2017. He received a variety of international commendations, including the Deming Prize in 1980 for achievements in total quality management and the Commander's Cross of the Order of Merit from the Federal Republic of Germany in 2001.
Toyoda received four medals of honor from Japan in the 1970s and 1980s for his contributions to the country’s well-being. Japan also officially decorated him with the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Sacred Treasure in 1995, the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun in 2002, and the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Paulownia Flowers in 2007 – some of the highest honors the country can give.
Toyoda was the son of company founder Kiichiro Toyoda. He is also the father of current CEO and President Akio Toyoda, who will step down from his role on April 1 to become chairman of the board. Current Lexus President Koji Sato is taking over as Toyota Motor Corporation’s president and CEO.