"Inventing our path forward, together." Taking responsibility for the Toyota Group, Chairman Akio Toyoda shared his vision with company leaders. We delve into the intention behind these words.
The company’s founding spirit, the carmaker’s core duty
Next, please look at the following chart.
In the Group’s vertical and horizontal expansions, I found distinct meanings.
Our vertical lineage continues to evolve through our unwavering commitment to paving the way for the future.
And our horizontal lineage continues to evolve together with our like-minded partners.
You could say we have been living in an automobile industry that was woven together by the vertical and horizontal threads spun by our predecessors.
Do we understand and appreciate how fortunate we are?
I think the first to forget this sentiment was none other than the Toyota Motor Corporation.
To make the mobility that sustains people’s lives more enjoyable and richer, we need to make ever-better cars.
This is the company’s founding spirit and our core duty as a carmaker.
However, somewhere along the way, we turned into a company that prioritizes volumes and profits—a company that makes money, not cars.
When the numbers go up, you get showered with praise. And people want to be praised. No one can criticize that desire.
What we must consider, however, is where those volumes and profits are coming from.
If you merely reap from the fields seeded, plowed, and cultivated by those who came before, such a business cannot last long.
That was the case at Toyota Motor when I first became president.
The 2008 financial crisis caused us to fall into the red for the first time in company history, causing trouble for the many people who support the automobile industry.
Furthermore, global recalls caused us to lose the trust of our customers, which is of the utmost importance to us.
I consider the Toyota Motor Corporation to have collapsed at that point.
Over the next 14 years I gave my all, and together with our partners managed to rebuild the company to the point where we can once more be called a carmaker. And yet, if we are not careful, I think we will soon find ourselves back in the same situation.
The Toyota Group’s path forward
This is not just about Toyota Motor Corporation.
Given the horizontal threads that connect us so closely, I believe that, just as Toyota Motor lost sight of our origins, the same thing is now happening at other Group companies.
When a crisis threatens a company’s survival, as managers, we are always given two paths.
One heads for short-term success via stopgap measures and all-or-nothing bets.
The other leads back to the founding origins that give our existence meaning.
For us, there is only one right path—returning to the company’s starting point and fixing what had gone wrong with our character.
Yet that is not all.
At the same time, we must always continue to sow seeds and take on new challenges for the future.
Personally, while continuing the fight to restore Toyota’s essence, I vowed not to stop sowing seeds for the future, including TNGA and other R&D investments, as well as building partnerships in new fields. I carried on with unwavering commitment.
Because such efforts weave the vertical warp threads of our lineage.
Sowing seeds does not grant immediate results. However, you also don’t need to struggle alone.
Our forefathers left us Toyota’s horizontal weft threads of our lineage.
Today, I am truly grateful for these connecting threads.
The future is something we all build together.