TOKYO -- Eiji Toyoda, a member of Toyota's founding family who oversaw the automaker's global ascent and helped drive a revolutionary production process, died today at the age of 100, the company said.
Toyoda, a cousin of the automaker's founder, died of heart failure less than a week after becoming a centenarian.
He joined the company in 1936 and became Toyota's president in 1967 when he spearheaded a push for mass production of cars, notably its Corolla brand, using a just-in-time production system that aimed to cut waste and improve efficiency.
Toyoda's tenure saw the firm's sales overseas soar, helping turn it into what is now the world's number-one automaker.
"With Mr Toyoda, the company became a global player with production in other developed countries," a company spokesman said. "He initiated that expansion."
Stepping down from his role as president in 1982, Toyoda was chairman until 1992 before finishing his nearly half-century career two years later.
Born in the central city of Nagoya, Toyoda was also a nephew of Toyota Group founder Sakichi Toyoda.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2013