During his tenure as president, Tatsuro struggled with an economic downturn in Japan and an earnings slump that were undercut by falling sales and shrinking share in the home market.
Before becoming head of the parent company, Toyoda served as the first president of Toyota’s pioneering joint-venture assembly plant with General Motors, the New United Motor Manufacturing facility in Fremont, Calif., which began production in 1984.
The plant was Toyota’s first experiment with manufacturing in the U.S., and gave it confidence for going solo on such ventures as its sprawling Georgetown assembly plant in Kentucky.
Toyoda’s task was the difficult one of introducing Japanese manufacturing techniques while maintaining the trust and morale of NUMMI’s unionized American workforce. His success in getting the venture off the ground opened the door for Toyota’s foray into U.S. production.
Toyota announced in 2009 it would close NUMMI after cash-strapped GM withdrew from the joint venture in the wake of the global financial crisis. The plant was later sold to Tesla Inc.
Toyoda earned a degree in mechanical engineering from Japan’s prestigious University of Tokyo and later received an MBA from New York University, where he studied under the famed quality-control guru W. Edwards Deming. Most of his career was focused on overseas marketing. After stepping down as president, he served as vice chairman for several years.
A private vigil and funeral has been held by close relatives, Toyota said. The company said it plans to hold a farewell gathering at a later date.