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Toyota president looking to reorganize corporate structure

Kyodo

Toyota President Akio Toyoda has said he will accelerate structural reform of the automaker to improve operations and boost profitability.

“We will aim to change the structure of the company so we can achieve sustainable growth,” Toyoda said in a recent interview.

As part of such efforts, Toyota, Asia’s largest automaker, has divided its automotive business into four units with the aim of speeding up decision-making.

Despite Toyota’s global vehicle sales hitting an all-time high of 8.71 million units in 2012, Toyoda said there is still room for enhancing the quality of its products.

Toyota’s auto sales have recently started to expand again after slipping in the wake of the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in September 2008 that triggered a global crisis, but Toyoda remains cautious over the future course of his company.

“It’s not a time for getting carried away with the new record,” Toyoda said. “I want to make (Toyota) a company that can generate profit even if something like the Lehman shock happens.”

Toyoda, who became the firm’s president in 2009, has been focusing on improving quality control and Toyota’s ability to weather changes in business conditions rather than on expanding sales volume.

Aiming to build resilience to fluctuations in currency and vehicle sales, the automaker has said in its global strategy announced in 2011 it would strengthen its profitability so as to stay in the black even when the yen remains strong around 85 against the dollar and its global auto sales are sluggish at around 7.5 million units annually.

Toyoda said his successor would need to be someone who has the spirit of “self-sacrifice.”

“Otherwise I would not pass the baton,” he said.