TOYOTA CITY, Japan - His company already is the world's third-largest carmaker with an estimated 10.2 percent share of the global auto market last year.
It is the industry leader in manufacturing efficiency and quality. It has the industry's biggest cash hoard, estimated at $20 billion-plus. And it is the industry's most geographically balanced, with North America, Japan, Europe and other markets each representing one-third of its sales.
But all that's not good enough for Toyota Motor Corp. President Fujio Cho.
Speaking to the company's senior managers Monday, April 1, Cho unveiled a striking global vision for 2010 which, if achieved, could make Toyota the world's biggest automaker with a 15 percent share of the global market.
Toyota would take the crown if General Motors, the current leader, fails to expand much above the 14.8 percent share it held last year. (The figure does not include companies in which GM holds a minor stake.) Ford Motor Co., with an estimated 12.4 percent stake, down from 12.7 percent in 2000, is No. 2.
"It's a very powerful statement of their intention in the industry," said Graeme Maxton, director of AutoPolis, a London-based automotive and economic forecasting firm.
But in an interview at company headquarters here last week, Akio Matsubara, Toyota's managing director in charge of the corporate planning division, sought to play down the notion that Toyota is setting out to become No. 1 in the world.
"The figure of 15 percent is a vision, not a target," he said. "Now that we've achieved 10 percent, we want to bring 15 percent into view as our next dream. We don't see any significance in becoming No. 1."
The point of the 15 percent figure, he said, is to motivate Toyota employees to embrace changes to improve so they would not become complacent with the company's success.
"Even if we don't achieve it, if we hold that as a dream, it will drive" changes inside Toyota, he said. "The purpose is to discuss within Toyota what the future car society will be like, and what Toyota should do" to flourish.
The "2010 Global Vision" discusses how Toyota should embrace environmental issues and developments in information technology; how its management structure will have to decentralize authority; and how Toyota should consider new technologies and new business fields, through mergers and acquisitions if necessary.