Who Is Shoichiro Toyoda? The First Heir to the Toyota Empire and Father of Current CEO Akio Toyoda Has Died Shoichiro is remembered for expanding Toyota's manufacturing to the U.S. and launching the high-end Lexus brand.

By Sam Silverman

Photo by Andy Rain/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Toyota car company is in mourning after losing one of its own.

Shoichiro Toyoda, the eldest son of Toyota's founder Kiichiro Toyoda and dad to soon-to-be former CEO Akio Toyoda, has died of heart failure at the age of 97, according to a press release shared by the company on Tuesday, February 14.

Shoichiro joined the company in 1952 after his father founded the Toyota Motor Corporation in 1937 – which was a revamp of Toyoda Automatic Loom Works, a machine manufacturing company founded by Sakichi Toyoda (Shoichiro's grandfather) in 1926.

With the help of his degree in engineering from Nagoya University, Shoichiro is celebrated for improving quality control in manufacturing, according to Reuters, in addition to expanding the Toyota brand to the U.S. He also helped launched the luxury Lexus brand and Prius hybrid.

RELATED: 'A Huge Surprise': Akio Toyoda, President and CEO of Toyota, Steps Down

Shoichiro held several leadership roles during his time at the company, including president of Toyota Motor Corporation beginning in 1981, according to the brand. He served on the board for 57 years and was made honorary chairman in 2009 until his death.

The news of Shoichiro's passing comes just weeks after his son Akio Toyoda, who has held the roles of president and CEO of the company since 2009, announced he'd be stepping down from his positions. However, he plans to assume the role of chairman after the company's current chairman of the board, Takeshi Uchiyamada, resigned.

Koji Sato, who previously worked as president of Lexus International, is set to fill Akio's shoes as Toyota's president and CEO in April.
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Sam Silverman

Entrepreneur Staff

Content Strategy Editor

Sam Silverman is a content strategy editor at Entrepreneur Media. She specializes in search engine optimization (SEO), and her work can be found in The US Sun, Nicki Swift, In Touch Weekly, Life & Style and Health. Her coverage spans from business and tech to entertainment news. Sam is a graduate of Lehigh University and currently resides in NYC. 

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