AGAINST ALL ODDS by Yukiyasu Togo


The Story of the Toyota Motor Corporation and the Family That Created It
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 A hit-and-run account of how Toyota grew from a small supplier of textile machinery into a world-class motor-vehicle manufacturer. In decidedly selective fashion, Togo (president of the company's US sales arm) and his American collaborator, Wartman (Playing Through, 1990, etc.), track the evolution of the Japanese colossus from its establishment in 1926 by Sakichi Toyoda up through its recent history. Along their apparently restricted way, the pair offer short takes on many significant corporate accomplishments, including development of just-in-time production techniques; commitment to kaizen (constant improvement); adoption of total quality control; amicable labor relations; and creation of the Lexus (which has made substantive inroads in luxury-car markets long dominated by BMW, Jaguar, and Mercedes-Benz). Covered as well are Toyota's well-planned campaigns to gain a foothold in the US, including its fruitful joint venture with GM--but glossed over are such sensitive subjects as the company's contributions to Japan's military during WW II and its considerable debt to the export- oriented industrial policies of government agencies like MITI. Nor do the authors provide any detail on the so-called transplant factory Toyota has built in America's rural South, and conspicuous by its absence also is any assessment of the auto/truck-maker's aspirations in the EC, as well as in neighboring Asian countries, most notably China. These and allied omissions will leave many wondering whether Toyota (which now has a fourth generation of the founding family near the top of its organizational chart) is indeed a player in areas of the global economy outside of Japan and North America. Favorably skewed perspectives on a consequential enterprise whose unabridged story has yet to be told. (Sixteen pages of photographs--not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 30th, 1993
ISBN: 0-312-09733-6
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1993