Akio Toyoda does believe in numerology. This famous personality is the president and CEO of Toyota Motor Corporation and grandson of the company’s founder, Kiichiro Toyoda. In 1937, Kiichiro Toyoda chose a nick name for himself. In this name, d, the last consonant of his real name was replaced with a ‘t’. Why the switch in name? One reason could be the softening of the last syllable. Is that all? No!
In katakana, a Japanese syllabary, the name ‘Toyoda’ takes ten brushstrokes while ‘Toyota’ takes exactly eight. The Japanese and Chinese believe that eight is a very lucky number. Eight, which is written as two strokes side by side, looks more like an open mountain top. Toyoda believed luck would arise from this symbol. For the Japanese, the wide mountain base stands for growth and abundance in future. While choosing the nick name, this is what Toyoda hoped. For his company too, he gave the name Toyota instead of Toyoda. Toyoda wanted both his company and country to grow and prosper.
By the year 2000, Toyota Motor Corporation was not just Japan’s largest car company but the world’s third largest too. Toyota was producing around five million units every year in the late 1990s. Its profits declined substantially during the global economic downturn of the early 1990s. However, Toyota responded by cutting costs and moving production to overseas markets including India. The company has represented one of the true success stories in the history of car manufacturing.
The name Toyoda in Japanese had the literal meaning of fertile rice fields. Changing it to Toyota would give Japan’s agricultural past a complete twist. The company would instead focus on growing fertile in the car industry. Why did all these thoughts hit my mind? Oh yes! Akio Toyoda was in the news on Wednesday. Lawmakers were questioning him about the safety issues of Toyota cars and the recent recalls.
Did the change in spelling not help the company this time? Well, life cannot be a bed of roses all the time. At times, there can be few thorns here and there. What matters most is the performance over a long period of time. In the long run Toyota has been doing very well. But once again, was it the number game? Did the numbers help, or, was it the company’s intelligence, innovation and car manufacturing skill that worked wonders for the company? That certainly depends on what one believes.