Toyota’s New Global Execs See Looming Crisis for Company
Toyota, along with some of Japan’s biggest car makers, powered through record profits last year, but if the car brand’s newly-promoted global execs are to be believed, the strong earnings posted by them and their fellow car companies are deceptive.
The new group of execs, which includes a woman, several company outsiders, and a British man, say that a crisis is looming at Toyota Motor Corp. and the brand’s very survival is at stake. They have made the statement previously, when they were reinstated last January 1. They repeated the message again on their second public appearance as a group last week.
"A once-in-a-century change is occurring," said Satoshi Ogiso, a former hybrid-vehicle engineer who left Toyota to run brake supplier Advics Co., and has returned as president of Toyota's commercial vehicle business. "We have to overcome a time of major change."
Ogiso stressed the importance for Toyota to move fast and innovate, a sentiment shared by everyone in the group.
"In all aspects, we really can't wait," said Toyota's newly-appointed chief communications officer, Masahiro Yamaoka. "This is a survival or death situation."
The way the new Toyota execs are worrying aloud about the challenges they face may seem out of place, especially after the company announced that it is looking to record income numbers for the current fiscal year. But it’s not only the execs who are in crisis mode. In fact, President Akio Toyoda, who is looking far beyond the next few quarters, feels the same way.
Toyoda gave gave Akihiro Fukutome, the new head of Toyota Financial Services Co., the mission to "blow a new wind from outside and quicken the pace of change." Before Toyota, Fukutome was the managing director at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., a megabank in Japan.
As the world turns toward AI and electric power in cars, Toyoda says the company should prioritize staying responsive to the drastic changes sweeping the industry. The current president firmly believes that even a global company like Toyota can be knocked off its pedestal with the onslaught of new technologies and competitors.
"Over the next 100 years, there is no guarantee that automobile manufacturers will continue to play leading roles in mobility,” Toyoda said back in November. "A crucial battle has begun — not one about winning or losing, but one about surviving or dying."