Some New Toyota Facts
Focus: Toyota powers to the front – Sunday Times – Times Online
From England, an article that gives a historical overview of Toyota with some tidbits I don't recall hearing about before:
1) Having their own semiconductor fab:
Toyota is the only car company in the world to have its own chip- manufacturing line, where raw silicon disks are turned into printed circuit boards.
Rivals such as Ford and General Motors buy circuits ready-made from external suppliers, but Toyota refuses to let the work go outside. It makes all the most advanced gizmos in its cars itself, a policy that has allowed it to build machines such as the fast-selling Prius, a complicated “hybrid” car that saves fuel by having a petrol and an electric engine.
2) Toyota's President's idea of “dream cars” — driving for perfection
A company's purpose, Watanabe insists, is to be useful to society. He talks of creating “dream vehicles” that will not harm the environment, will never have accidents and will make their occupants healthier as they drive.
3) Kaizen-ing the family name? I know the family name is Toyoda, but they changed the name of the company to Toyota. Was this really in the name of efficiency, a sort of simplicity?
Toyoda Motor Corporation sold its first car, the A1, in 1936, and almost immediately changed its name to Toyota. The reason for the switch was simple â€” Toyota can be written in Japanese with just eight strokes of a pen, with eight being a lucky number, while Toyoda takes 12.
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Regarding the family name, I had also read somewhere that the name was changed because the word Toyoda has a meaning that has something to do with rice fields, but Toyota essentially didn’t mean anything. There was a desire to avoid name/word association errors. It also looked prettier when it was written (as well as being easier to write).
GM used to have its own fabs also. Delco Electronics, now a part of Delphi, manufactures silicon, packages it, builds the circuit boards and puts it all in nice little boxes. Also, this is the key piece Miller is trying to reform Delphi around.
On may days I think GM would have been better served to have cast GMAC loose rather than Delphi so upper management was forced to focus on making cars rather than financial instruments.