Shoichiro Toyoda, pilot behind Toyota’s U.S. expansion and Lexus launch, dies at 97

(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) – Shoichiro Toyoda, the former Toyota Motor Corp. president who led the company his father founded into U.S. auto manufacturing and unprecedented overseas expansion, died Tuesday at 97.

The cause was heart failure, according to Toyota, which announced his passing in a news release shortly thereafter. Funeral services will be held for close family members only, with a more public farewell ceremony planned for a later date.

Toyoda, father of current Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda, piloted his family’s namesake company through the trade tensions of the 1980s. He also represented the Toyoda clan on the board for 57 years, making him the automaker’s longest-serving director.

His tenure as president of the automaker, from 1981 to 1992, was notable for Toyota’s plunge into North American manufacturing and the rollout of the Lexus luxury brand.

The Japanese carmaker’s move to start building vehicles in the U.S. was partly aimed at defusing trade friction. But it laid the groundwork for a more balanced cost structure, improved efficiencies and vehicles that were better tailored to local demand.

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