Toyota President Akio Toyoda Copyright Bill Pugliano, Getty Images

Hello, Toyota's President Wants to Be Friends with You in China

Toyota's Akio Toyoda opened an account on China's micro-blogging service Weibo.

Akio Toyoda opened an account on Weibo seeking to win over friends in China, an uncommon social-media presence for the Toyota Motor Corp. boss.

Toyoda, 61, the president and chief executive officer Asia’s biggest automaker, got more than 16,000 followers within hours of his post. China is Toyota’s third-largest market in terms of volume sales, behind the U.S. and Japan.

“Hello everyone, I’m Akio Toyoda and I’ve started using Sina Weibo,” read the solo entry on his account, written in Chinese. “Starting today, I hope to become friends with everyone here.” He ended the message with a smiley face.

For Toyoda, who doesn’t have a presence on Twitter but has an Instagram account, opening an account on the Chinese micro-blogging service is a departure from the norm for the heads of Japanese automakers including Honda and Nissan. Just as in Japan, the bosses of German carmakers -- Dieter Zetsche at Daimler AG and his Volkswagen AG counterpart Matthias Mueller -- also haven’t embraced the 140-character tweet revolution. In the U.S. while Mary Barra of GM has a twitter account, Jim Hackett at Ford doesn’t.

A Toyota China spokesman said Toyoda chose to open the Weibo account to communicate with consumers in the country. Weibo is China’s biggest micro-blogging service with 340 million monthly active users as of March.

Toyota’s sales in China rose 6.2% to 732,900 units in the first seven months of this year, the company said Wednesday, on track to beat last year’s full-year tally of 1.21 million vehicles.

By Bloomberg News

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