Toy­ota chief stresses safe growth

The Pak Banker - - 6BUSINESS -

TOKYO: Af­ter four tu­mul­tuous years book­ended by an un­prece­dented re­call cri­sis and a re­turn to the top of the global auto in­dus­try, Akio Toy­oda is re­fash­ion­ing Toy­ota Mo­tor Corp. into a leaner com­pany that’s more im­bued with the ven­ture spirit of founder Kiichiro Toy­oda, his grand­fa­ther. In an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with The As­so­ci­ated Press, Toy­ota’s pres­i­dent said he is putting new auto plants on hold for three years and re­shap­ing the au­tomaker’s struc­ture to give more au­ton­omy to re­gional di­vi­sions and for­eign ex­ec­u­tives. What­ever growth “a re­born” Toy­ota pur­sues must be “sus­tain­able,” Toy­oda, 56, told AP at Toy­ota’s Tokyo show­room.

“We have to keep im­prov­ing, get­ting bet­ter and bet­ter, not tak­ing for granted that we have re­cov­ered,” he said. He was speak­ing af­ter Wed­nes­day an­nounc­ing an over­haul of man­age­ment that was the clear­est state­ment yet of his vi­sion to cre­ate a more nim­ble, trans­par­ent and glob­ally-minded com­pany to pre­vent any re­cur­rence of the mis­takes of re­cent years.

Toy­oda said in the in­ter­view that the com­pany won’t start build­ing any new auto plants through 2015 to keep fixed costs down de­spite bur­geon­ing sales and what he feels are good prospects for global auto growth. Plants al­ready un­der way will still be com­pleted. He said that re­flects a de­ci­sion to fo­cus on grow­ing leaner and mak­ing bet­ter use of what it al­ready has to boost prof­itabil­ity, not just sales. “There are some plants that are busy, and some plants that aren’t so busy,” Toy­oda said. It plans to be more flex­i­ble about ship­ping cars from one na­tion to an­other, such as the Yaris from Europe to the U.S., to im­prove fac­tory ef­fi­ciency. Among the key lead­er­ship moves an­nounced Wed­nes­day was the ap­point­ment of Amer­i­can Mark Ho­gan, an in­de­pen­dent con­sul­tant and former GM group vice pres­i­dent.

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