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Toyota Motor company Losing its Quality Edge Essay

1. Executive Summary:

Toyota Motor Corporation is the leading global automobile manufacturer operating in more than 140 countries and boasted sales of 9.75 Million vehicles during 2012 compared to key rival General Motors at 9.29 million vehicles (Dawson, 2013). Toyota’s consistent delivery of superior quality, reliability and durability has been cited as the key success factors behind their ascension to global leadership in 2008 (Feng, 2010; Takeuchi, Osno and Shimizu, 2008). (Spear, 2004) postulates that the Toyota Production System (TPS) which incorporates the company’s legendary lean manufacturing practices coupled with the business philosophy of always placing the customer first; enabled them to repeatedly outperform their competitors on quality, productivity and cost reduction.

The TPS became the benchmark for manufacturing practices in other industries ranging from aerospace to consumer goods. Toyota has won prestigious international quality awards including the Malcolm Baldridge Award, The Japan Prize and the Deming Prize which is Japan’s highly coveted award for quality achievement which further entrenched their quality heritage.

In light of Toyota’s impeccable reputation for placing the customer first and the company’s coveted quality heritage, the 2009 recall crisis shocked consumers and the subsequent negative publicity presented the biggest threat to the Toyota corporate brand reputation in the company’s history (Fan, Geddes and Flory, 2011). According to (Taylor, 2012) Toyota had received consumer complaints related to unintended acceleration as early as 2002. The author intones that the company not only denied the problem but failed to take action until the problem escalated into a full scale quality crisis in 2009, following a fatal crash involving a Lexus ES 350 with a jammed accelerator in North America. According to (Thompson et al., 2012) Toyota recalled approximately 4 million motor vehicles, following the accident.

Further steps were taken around the world involving an estimated total of 8 Million vehicles (Saporito, Schuman, Szczesny, & Altman, 2010). This was ensued by a U.S. government investigation coupled with millions of dollars in heavy fines as well as legal actions from the victims (Feng and Danilovic, 2010).In addition the impact on Toyota’s financial performance was catastrophic. The company reported an operating loss of ¥436 Million during 2009 which represented a 75% decline against 2008. Net Revenues declined by 22% from a robust ¥26.2 Billion in 2008 to ¥20.5 Billion in 2009 (Toyota Motor Corporation Annual Report, 2012). Taylor, (2012) further noted the severity of the crisis on Toyota’s market share in the U. S. which tumbled from a high of 18.3% during 2009 to 12.9% in 2011.

The recall crisis, beget the question of how did a company renowned and admired worldwide for its rigorous quality assurance falter and jeopardize its most valuable asset? The following section of the report attempts to answer how a company such as Toyota went awry from a strategic management perspective. 2. Toyota’s problems, a result of flaws in the company’s implementation efforts? It is well documented in strategic management literature that effective strategic planning enhances company performance; however successful implementation is necessary for value creation (Hahn et al., 2010; Thompson et al., 2012). This section evaluates the various elements of successful strategy implementation and (Beer and Eisenstat, 2000) mention six silent killers of strategy implementation existing in most companies that managers avoid confronting- (Addendum 1)

2.1 – Staffing the organisation:

Staffing the organisation with both talented managers and employees with appropriate skills and intellectual capital constitute a key component of successful strategic implementation (Thompson, et al., 2013). Saporito, Schuman, Szczesny & Altman, (2010) identified Toyota’s rapid global expansion as one of the key factors behind their quality crisis. During a 2007 interview in the Harvard Business Review, then President Katsuaki Watanabe expressed a grave concern regarding the company’s lack of human resources to sustain their global growth. The company’s precipitous growth exerted enormous strain on the company’s design, engineering and manufacturing divisions as the lack of human resources in particular a shortage of engineers resulted in understaffed design centers and compromised product quality.

Meeting an ever increasing demand resulted in engineers cutting corners, relying on computer simulations for quality assurance which ultimately resulted in defective products (Fan et. al., 2011; Taylor, 2012). Although Toyota later employed several hundred engineers to meet the company’s human resource requirements the new staff were not well versed in the Toyota way of manufacturing and stringent quality assurance practices which further exacerbated the problem (Thompson, et al., 2013).

2.2 – Resource allocation and capability development:

Effective strategy execution is primarily dependant on ensuring that correct resources and capabilities are available for deployment and the effective implementation of a new strategic approach requires a revision, upgrade and renewal of the company’s resources and capabilities (Mankins and Steele, 2005; Thompson, et al. 2013). During 2002 Toyota embarked on a new strategic direction named the ‘2010 Global Vision’ clearly stating their strategic intent on global leadership (Thompson, et al., 2012). According to (Saporito, et. al., 2010) Toyota added 17 new production sites over a period of ten years with the stated intent of becoming the world leader in automobiles. Several authors confer that Toyota expanded without the addition of matching resources and capabilities (Fan, et. al, 2011; Thompson, et al., 2012).

Saporito et al., (2010) suggest that the dramatic increase in defective vehicles evidences that the company’s quality assurance system developed faults. The rapid expansion exerted enormous pressure on the company’s resources and the company’s ability to transmit capabilities and technology over long distances and across national cultures. Employees strayed from Toyota’s legendary TPS, a manufacturing capability, which has given Toyota a competitive advantage and is renowned for its defect prevention (Saporito et al., 2010; Thompson, et al., 2012).

2.3 – Outsourcing of Value Chain Activities:

Thompson et al., (2013) suggest that Toyota’s outsourcing of key value chain activities contributed to the quality crisis, as Toyota pursued global expansion the company outsourced a significant proportion of its manufacturing and production activities with dire consequences. Parts and raw materials were sourced outside of Japan and in an attempt to improve profitability during the global recession the company further pressurized suppliers to reduce costs. MacDuffie and Fujimoto, (2010) postulate that Toyota’s accelerator pedal recall, was the result of a design flaw in a single, relatively simple part used in several models.

Thompson et al, (2012) furthermore noted that Toyota failed to conduct supplier audits, assessments and performance monitoring which further contributed to compromised quality parts and he states that outsourcing of certain value chain activities may lower costs and increase strategic focus however, caution should be taken with regards to outsourcing of activities that underpin competitive success. As mentioned Toyota’s competitive advantage lies in the manufacturing of superior quality automobiles, outsourcing the design and development of critical components resulted in a full scale quality crisis.

2.4 – Importance of industry & stakeholder Analysis:

Toyota neglected the environment and stakeholders’ influence and impact on its strategy implementation efforts. It failed to identify the industry key success factors that would raise the chances implementing it’s strategy successfully. As elucidated in the case study, the Japanese law limited the amount of overtime that engineers could work, as a result company engineers rushed out products without conducting enough quality checks and relied heavily on computer simulations to ensure quality and to keep up with the growth. (Thompson, et al; 2012) opine that insightful diagnosis of a company’s external and internal environments is a pre-requisite for managers to succeed in crafting and executing a strategy that is a fit with the company’s situation – the fit test of a winning strategy.

2.5 – The Importance of policies and procedures:

According to (Beer & Eisenstat, 2000), Poor coordination across functions, businesses or borders is a silent killer to strategy implementation. Toyota failed to harmonize its business functions in executing its growth strategy, vehemently concentrating on being the market leader, increasing sales and opening new plants globally overlooking the business management functions which operate in sync for successful strategy execution. Analysts orated that, as the company was aggressively expanding globally, it lost focus on quality and failed to maintain quality standards at its overseas markets. It ramped up production of vehicles whilst employees strayed from the Toyota way of rigorous quality control and continuous improvement in manufacturing methods. As a result a number of errors were reported during vehicle development. (Beer & Eisenstat, 2000) stresses that effective coordination and teamwork integrates activities around customers, products and or markets across diverse functions, localities and businesses. However, Toyota strayed from its low cost global leadership strategy to a more differentiated approach.

A cost leader strategic direction entails the relentless pursuit of the lowest cost structure among competitors and performing all value chain activities in the most cost effective manner (Hahn and Powers, 2010; Thompson et al., 2012). In contrast, a differentiation strategic approach involves the delivery of unique, innovative and often technological advanced products or services. Toyota introduced most notably the Prius and the Lexus which signalled a departure from a low cost provider towards a more differentiated strategic approach exemplifying both technological innovation and strong product differentiation as the world’s first Hybrid car and the Lexus which is positioned as superior in design with high performance features matching that of premium priced automobiles such as BMW and Mercedes Benz (Stewart and Raman, 2007).

Straddling both strategic approaches coupled with a shift away from Toyota’s distinctive competence of producing high quality and reliable auto mobiles towards more innovative and technologically advanced vehicles may have stretched the company’s resources too far. Toyota’s strategy as described by (Takeuchi, et al. 2008) is a contradiction to strategic management literature which is supported by (Porter, 1996) who asserts that trying to be all things, to all consumers, results in a blurred strategic positioning. Toyota’s problems can largely be ascribed to its poor strategy implementation efforts as it was engrossed in cost reduction and being the global leader which caused spiralling quality glitches.

Analysts orated that Toyota’s former president, Watanabe constantly focused on cost cutting which created huge production glitches and turnaround quality levels. (Thompson, Peteraf, Gamble and Strickland, 2012) cite that a pitfall in strategy execution is when a company is being too fixated on cost reduction. Low cost cannot be pursued so zealously that a firm’s offering ends up too features-poor to generate buyer appeal. 3. Role of Policies and Procedures and Organisational Culture in Toyota’s Success.

1 – Policies and Operating Practices:

Thompson et al., (2012) stresses the importance of instituting policies and procedures that facilitate strategy execution as they provide top down guidance and consistency in the performance of organizational activities. Several authors have posited that Toyota’s success and outstanding performance as a manufacturer is anchored in their relentless commitment to their core business policies and practices. These policies and practices were formally documented in 2001 by Toyota and are collectively referred to as “The Toyota Way”. According to the Toyota Way Document (2001) the “Toyota Way” it is a system created to provide tools to the employees to continually improve their work. The “Toyota Way” has enabled Toyota to create an organisational culture that values efficiency and improvement techniques. However the “Toyota Way” goes further than relying on tools as it encourages more dependence on employees making the right decision. (The Toyota Way Document, 2001).

On a daily basis, engineers, skilled workers, quality specialist, vendors, team leaders, and—most importantly—operators are all involved in continuous problem solving and improvement, which over time trains everyone in the organisation to become better problem solvers (Toyota Way Document, 2001) One of the key elements of the “Toyota Way” is kaizen: continuous improvement. Yuki Funo, (2007), Toyota chairman and CEO USA says “continuous improvement at Toyota is a never-ending journey; we have to always keep watching what the consumer wants. If we base our business on what the customer wants, there’s no end to the improvement we can achieve” The Toyota Way defines how the company works and incorporates the Toyota Production System (Stewart et al., 2007; Spear and Bowen 1999; Takeuchi et al., 2008).

Spear, (2004) proposed that the TPS involves applying principles rather than tools and affirms that all Toyota’s employees and managers are encouraged not only to live the TPS principles but also to teach others in the organisation to apply them. The “Toyota Way document” provides illustrations of how Toyota invests and retains its employees by developing and providing challenging opportunities to its employees (Liker and Morgan, 2006).

The five key principles are:

i Kaizen (Continuous improvement): The root of the Toyota Way is to be dissatisfied with the status quo. ii Challenge: activities and processes are constantly challenged and pushed to a higher level of performance. iii Genchi Genbutsu (Go see for yourself): This entails the practice of always going to the source of the problem to take early corrective action. iv Respect: Respect for people encompasses employees, supply partners, and customers. v Teamwork: Total participation refers to employee empowerment and development in order to maximize team performance. Addendum 2 provides an illustration of Toyota’s business practices, addendum 3 the Toyota Way and addendum 4 it’s guiding principles as explained on the company’s website. The Toyota Production System (TPS) has been cited by several authors as the key driver behind Toyota’s ability in producing high quality auto mobiles more efficiently than their rivals (Stewart et al., 2007; Spear et al., 1999; Takeuchi et al., 2008).

Toyota’s Production System (TPS) is based on “lean” principles including a focus on the customer continual improvement and quality through waste reduction, and tightly integrated upstream and downstream processes as part of a lean value chain (Liker and Morgan, 2006). TPS was built on two key principles “Just in Time” and “Jidoka” (Thomson et al., 2012). Just in Time production focuses on reducing lead times and keeping production lines flexible resulting in improved quality, responsiveness, productivity and utilization of equipment and space. The principle of “Jidoka” focuses on the empowerment of employees providing them with the responsibility of ensuring quality.

Another key principle is the company’s belief that success is dependent on customer satisfaction which became the cornerstone of the “Customer First” principle. While culture and customer focus is the glue that puts an organisation together, at Toyota simple tools are used to help align the work of employees to the strategic pillars of the organisation (Liker and Morgan (2006) An example is hoshin kanri, (Liker and Morgan, 2006), which is used to break down vehicle objectives to specific system objectives for performance, weight, cost, and safety so to ensure that quality is at the fore front of every employee’s mind whilst wastage is minimized.

2 – Organisational Culture:

Thompson et al., (2012) defines a company’s corporate culture as the meshing together of shared values, beliefs, business practices and traditions into a style of operating and a work atmosphere. Thompson et al, (2012) postulate that a superior corporate culture can be a source of a sustainable competitive advantage. An organisation can develop a strong corporate culture that facilitates strategy execution by fostering a common vision amongst employees to commit to a common identity, interest and belonging thereby ensuring the achievement of the organizational goals Meijen, (2007). Meijen, (2007), further opines that a strong corporate culture can significantly impact on an organisation’s long term economic performance. According to Liker and Morgan (2006) the DNA of Toyota culture is about very strongly held beliefs and values that are shared across managers and working-level engineers.

It is these core beliefs that have compelled every employee at Toyota to work harmoniously toward common goals. An illustration of one of Toyota’s core beliefs is satisfying the customer – this provides the basis of all key decisions that employees make on a daily basis (Liker and Morgan 2006). However we know that some organisations this is not practiced and rather decisions are based on individual career advancements motives. Liker and Morgan (2006) explains that at Toyota the focus of their culture is based on excellence as a fundamental part of their leadership team who consistently behave in line with these very core beliefs. Takeuchi et al., (2008) suggest that Toyota’s corporate culture is built on the premise of continuous improvement, which allows the company to keep improving the way it manufactures vehicles and never accepting the status quo.

The company furthermore empowers its employees by encouraging them to constantly come up with new and innovative ideas. Takeuchi et al, (2008) further note that Toyota’s encouragement of open communication has made their culture remarkably tolerant of failure. Several authors concur that Toyota’s policies, business practices and strong corporate culture have been the foundation of the company’s success in executing the strategic objective of delivering a superior quality product at a lower cost than key rivals (Spear, 2004; Takeuchi et al., 2008) In light above points, one can deduce that Toyota has strong policies, procedures and organisational culture that if instilled in all employees and fostered from top to bottom management employees the organisation is bound to remain the global leader.

4. Toyota’s approaches to executing its strategy that merit change

4.1 Focus on short term benefits at the expense of long term growth

The authors state that Toyota’s previous CEO Watanabe pursued global leadership and short term profits at the expense of long term growth. Toyota’s cost cutting methods that contributed to the decrease of quality can be contributed to leadership who lost their key focus of quality to quantity.

4.2 Management style approach:

Thompson et al., (2012) attributed weak leadership as a key factor behind Toyota’s quality lapse. Taylor, (2012) suggests that Toyota’s management style was archaic and hadn’t changed since the 1950s which made Toyota inflexible, insular and far removed from the changing global economy as decision making was centralised and tightly controlled in Japan exacerbating poorly manufactured vehicles which were later retracted from the market. According to Thompson et al., (2012) the leadership of an organisation is a key aspect to the company’s culture and that values, principles and ethics should be practiced not just preached by management.

4.3 Centralised decision making approach:

This is another facet that needs to be examined. As explained by Thompson et al., (2012) the organisational structure should be supporting the global strategy and the enlargement of Toyota requires the matching of the structure to the global expansion strategy. A centralised decision making approach makes large, complex organisations, like Toyota, sluggish to changes in business environment because of the bureaucracy. This requires top management to gather relevant decision making information which is time-consuming making it impractical, as the larger a company is the more scattered operations are (Thompson et al., 2012).

4.4 Procurement approach

Toyota’s drive to become the world’s largest automaker in the 1990s through their global expansion strategy affected their product quality – their major sustainable competitive advantage (Thompson et al., 2012). Thompson et al. (2012) explain further that activities which are crucial to the firm’s ability to achieve sustainable competitive advantage should not be outsourced as it hollows out the company’s core competencies. Toyota outsourced the design and development of crucial components to its suppliers (Thompson et al., 2012) and lost the risk of direct control over quality. Due to the outsourcing mentioned in the paragraph Toyota did not hire engineers that would further build their staffing resources (Thompson et al., 2012) and staffing the organisation by recruiting and retaining engineers with necessary experience, technical skills and intellectual capital is an important aspect in building an organisation that is capable of executing a good strategy (Thompson et al., 2012).

In conclusion, Toyota has effective direct quality processes in place. However it lacks indirect facets that influence quality such as leadership style, organisational structure, procurement, recruiting and developing sufficient staffing resources and business ethics approaches that merit change and facilitate effective implementation of the company strategy. 5. Arguments for and against the idea that Toyota’s reputation has been irreparably damaged by the recalls and shutdown of its plants Several authors opined that recall crisis threatened the company’s brand stature to the extent that Toyota lost its most important competitive advantage: its reputation for exceptional quality (Fan, Geddes and Flory, 2011; Feng et al., 2010; Taylor 2012). Several authors forecasted that Toyota lost their quality edge and the company’s public reputation was ruined not only by the recalls but also by the fact that the company concealed the defects and did not act appropriately (Fan et al., 2011 ; Feng et al., 2010).

Feng et al., (2010) affirm that although recalls in the auto industry is common, the Toyota crisis was set apart by a number of factors: firstly over 8 million vehicles were recalled around the world within a few months, secondly the defective quality involved unintended acceleration problems and the defect related to the most important factor for drivers which is safety. The authors postulated that this would heavily impact on Toyota’s brand image and reputation of quality. The authors further suggest that Toyota’s failure to respond timeously and transparently at the beginning of the crisis marred their reputation even further (Saporito et. al., 2010). Research conducted by (Fan et. al. 2011) showed a noted notable drop in public opinion following the negative media coverage of the recall crisis.

The ability of an organisation to come back from adversity requires an understanding of what perceptions and attitudes shaped that organizations reputation in the first place. Fan et al., (2011) opine that the history of Toyota as an organisation was established on the notion of a world class corporate brand reputation based on its commitment and dedication to quality, reliability, continuous improvement, customer focus, and excellence in design and manufacturing. Toyota’s longstanding history of satisfying its customers and consistently exceeding their expectations has built a so called “halo effect” and a loyal customer base (Feng, 2010).

Feng (2010) explains that such a positive prior reputation can counterbalance the negative impact of a crises or scandal and serve as powerful shield to protect the organisation’s reputation against the crisis as the consumer will evaluate the negative publicity against their prior perceptions, expectations and experiences (Feng, 2010). In view of the above facts, it can be argued that Toyota’s reputation was not permanently damaged. This is further supported by (Thompson et. al., 2012) who stated that industry analysts saw the recalls as a positive as the company took responsibility for their actions and halted production while it addressed the issue at great cost.

6. Is Toyota losing its quality edge?

Thompson et al., (2012) noted that several industry analysts had the view that despite the recalls, Toyota’s reputation as a quality car maker remained unscathed. The authors state that during 2009, ten of the J.D. Power Initial Quality Study awards for best vehicles were awarded to Toyota or Lexus vehicles in spite of the recall crisis. It is further worthy to note that Toyota received more awards than any other car manufacturer in that period. The Toyota’s assembly plant also received the Platinum plant quality award during 2012 for manufacturing vehicles with fewer defects and malfunctions than other manufacturers. Taylor, (2012) opines that the recall crisis however served as a wake-up call for Toyota.

In June 2009 Akio Toyoda took the helm of the company amidst the global recession and the recall crisis. The author posited that Akio’s strong leadership was a key factor in the company’s rebound. The author further stated that Akio adopted a top down approach to speed up decision making and personally took up to crusade to reconnect with Toyota’s customers through their products by delivering outstanding quality (Taylor, 2012).

Toyota’s has not lost its quality edge, as supported by the “Global Vision” announced in March 2011 which clarifies the company’s renewed resolve on commitment to quality, placing the customer first and employee empowerment (Toyota, 2013). The development and training of personnel would furthermore revive the quality position of Toyota’s vehicles. Akio Toyoda’s plan to start an Automotive Centre of Quality excellence in key regions will also ensure Toyota retaining its quality edge over rivals. Toyota is an extraordinary outfit, one likely to set the pace in the automotive industry for years (Saporito, 2010: 18).

7. Recommendations
7.1. – Implementation of a crisis management strategy:

Tinsley et. al., (2011) posits that Toyota’s delayed reaction to the quality crisis further exasperated the consumer backlash. A sound crisis management strategy to manage future recalls or negative publicity should be instigated through prompt and accurate reflection on customer feedback and strengthened information gathering capabilities via the installation of state of the art information and operating systems. Mankins et al., (2005) intones that high performance organizations continuously monitor their resource deployment patterns and their results against the strategic plan, using continuous feedback to reset assumptions and reallocate resources. 7.2. – Strengthening supplier quality controls and managing outsourcing: Toyota should employ collaborative relationships with suppliers, assist suppliers with quality assurance efforts and share information on quality related matters. They should review the termination of supplier contracts that may jeopardize its competitive success, conduct supplier comprehensive background checks and source from companies that are willing to provide guarantees for products in writing.

Thomson, et al., (2012) emphasize that in order to maintain and develop both expertise and resource depth, key strategic value chain activities that reinforce a company’s competitive advantage should be performed internally. Key value chain activities such as product designs and manufacturing of essential parts should be conducted in-house to reduce vehicle recalls. 7.3. – Improving the alignment of organizational structure and strategy: Thompson et al., (2012) states that the organizational structure should be built around the proficient performance of crucial strategic activities as they require the necessary resources and decision making influence for good strategy execution.

A centralized organizational structure is suggested as the approach eliminates goal conflict and allows for quick decision making. This organizational structure would therefore facilitate adherence to “The Toyota Way” and curtail deviance to the company’s stringent quality and customer focused values

. 7.4. – Improved staffing of the organization:

Recruiting both talented managers and employees with appropriate skills and intellectual capital constitute a key component of successful strategic implementation (Thompson, et al., 2013). Thus the appointment of highly skilled, Chief Quality Officers in key regions will facilitate communication, information sharing and improve quality and safety decision-making globally. Improved training and development of employees to effectively implement the Toyota Production System and Toyota Way is essential.

7.5. – Adopt continuous improvement processes:

Toyota should manage, coordinate and benchmark its internal operations against its created quality standards and industry major players and track its performance. (Mankins & Steele, 2005) orate that companies rarely track performance against long term plans which impacts negatively on strategy execution. Though in 2006, the company was hit by a series of quality issues, it continued its global expansion spree which pressurised the automakers resources despite recalls that had been encountered. (Takeuchi, Osono & Shimizu, 2008) opined that the general manager advocates direction but learns from the feedback of those down the line. One of the most widely used and effective tools for gauging how well a company executing pieces of its strategy entails benchmarking the company’s performance of particular activities and business processes against “best in industry” and “best in world” performers. (Thompson, et al; 2012)

8. Conclusion:

During Toyota’s rapid ascension to global leadership the company lost sight of their trade mark; rigorous quality control and customer focus. The company’s resources were severely strained to meet the increased demand while still complying to the lean manufacturing principles and keeping costs to a minimum. The resulting crisis involving massive recalls, damage to the company’s reputation as well as calamitous financial results (Thomson et. al., 2012). Toyota however weathered a crisis that would tumble most companies into obscurity and retained their quality edge indicating the strategic power of Toyota’s reputation and public image. Toyota’s reputation for consistently delivering quality goods was forged over several decades and insulted the company against a potentially catastrophic crisis.

Toyota’s successful recovery from the quality crisis is also evidenced in their outstanding 2013 financial results (Dawson, 2013). The company boasted profits ¥314 Billion during March 2013 which were the best in five years. It is further stated that sales in the U.S. Toyota’s biggest export market, have rebounded with the company producing 9.75 million vehicles, half a million more than rival General Motors, enabling Toyota to take global leadership again. The author reckons that Toyota’s formidable brand name and reputation for consistent and superior quality built over several decades enabled the company to withstand the crisis.

The Toyota Global Vision announced in 2011 reemphasizes the importance of the company’s core values of quality and respect for people and incorporates the Toyota Way and the original guiding principles as the roots of the vision. In addition a long range strategic perspective with sustainable profitability is highlighted, thereby making the company triple bottom line orientated. Toyota has adopted the slogan “Always better cars” to articulate the objective of developing cars that exceed customer expectations and enriching the lives of communities is a core business objective (Toyota, 2013). In closing, the strong leadership of Akio Toyoda as well as Toyota’s current strategic vision will prepare the company for the future and ensure that Toyota remains a formidable force in the global automotive industry.

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