Toyota Honorary Chairman Shoichiro Toyoda has died at 97 years old

On Valentine’s Day, Toyota Motor Corporation lost its Honorary Chairman Shoichiro Toyoda to heart failure. He was 97 years old and left behind his eldest son Akio Toyoda who currently serves as the chairman of the board.

Shoichiro Toyoda image

Shoichiro is the son of Kiichiro Toyoda, who founded Toyota in 1937. He joined his father’s business in 1952 after getting his BS in Engineering degree from Nagoya University. He holds a Ph.D. from Tohoku University.

In 1981, after becoming the president of the company’s marketing arm, he initiated a merger of the sales and production divisions, two teams that struggled to work together. Using his savvy skills and firm leadership, Shoichiro made the transition seamless, turned the company into what we now know as Toyota Motor Corporation, and became its first president.

Shoichiro Toyoda image

During his tenure as president and chairman of TMC, Shoichiro had numerous achievements, including creating the luxury sub-brand Lexus. He described the challenges of that venture in an article he wrote in Nikkei Asia. “We hoped to offer a car with the best performance, fuel economy, and comfort in its class, surpassing established luxury marques like Mercedes-Benz.” He also approved the research and development of the world’s most popular hybrid, the Prius.

Shoichiro Toyoda image

His many accomplishments are recognized all around the world. He received the Japanese Deming Prize in 1980, the FISITA Medal of the International Federation of Automotive Engineering Societies in 2000, and the Society of Automotive Engineers Foundation's Manufacturing Leadership Award USA in 2005. He became an International Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1993 and was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame, Detroit, Michigan, USA, in 2007.

Aside from Japan, Shoichiro is also feted with national honors and decorations from other countries. He has received various Medals of Honor from his home country, including the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Order of the Rising Sun, and Order of the Paulownia Flowers, and medals from Venezuela, Thailand, Belgium, Colombia, Taiwan, United Kingdom, Brazil, Turkey, Austria, Spain, Germany, Poland, Portugal, France, Costa Rica, Gabon, Italy, Indonesia, and the Grand Collar of the Order of Lakandula from the Philippines.

Rest in peace, Shoichiro Toyoda.