Eiji Toyoda, former chairman of Toyota Motor Corporation and cousin to TMC founder Kiichiro Toyoda, passed away yesterday, just five days after his 100th birthday. The Japanese carmaker issued a simple statement to convey its bereavement: \"We mourn the loss of automotive pioneer Eiji Toyoda, whose contributions and leadership helped make Toyota what it is today.\"
According to his executive profile, \"Eiji Toyoda was born September 12, 1913. He graduated from the University of Tokyo with a degree in mechanical engineering in March 1936, and joined Toyoda Automatic Loom Works in April the same year. In August 1937, he moved to the company\'s newly established automotive subsidiary, Toyota Motor Company, now Toyota Motor Corporation.\"
Eiji Toyoda--who famously drove Toyota\'s first full-scale production model, the Toyopet Crown, off the assembly line in 1955--became Toyota Motor Company\'s fifth president in 1967, and was named chairman of Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) in 1982. (TMC was born when Toyota merged its sales and manufacturing arms.) He served as TMC chairman until 1992, when he stepped down and handed the post to his nephew Shoichiro Toyoda.
It was under Eiji Toyoda\'s leadership that Toyota successfully penetrated the US market and also launched its Lexus luxury brand. The industry legend was inducted into the United States\' Automotive Hall of Fame in 1994, only the second Japanese after Soichiro Honda to earn the honor.