Toyota: The Once-in-a-Century Challenge

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Please note:

This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

This case was a Finalist in the 2009 John Molson MBA Case Writing Competition.

Case Details:


Case Code : BSTR362 For delivery in electronic format: Rs. 500;
For delivery through courier (within India): Rs. 500 + Rs. 25 for Shipping & Handling Charges


Business Policy / Strategic Management / Leadership and Change
Case Length : 16 Pages
Period : 2006-2009
Pub Date : 2010
Teaching Note : Not Available
Organization : Toyota Motor Corporation
Industry : Automotive
Countries : Global


This case study is about Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota), the world's leading automaker. When Akio Toyoda (Akio) took over as President of the iconic Japanese automaker on June 23, 2009, the automotive industry was going through a very difficult phase. Moreover, Toyota was also facing some serious problems itself. In mid-2009, the company reported its first losses since 1963, the year it began reporting business data. Analysts felt that the global financial crisis had had its impact on Toyota and that the company was also trying to cope with a shift in the global automobile industry. The challenge before Akio, grandson of the founder of Toyota, was to bring the automaker back to profits.

Akio immediately announced a slew of measures to bring the company back to profits. According to him, the industry was going through a ‘once-in-a-century transformation' and thus he wanted to break from the past to provide a solution for this ‘once-in-a-century challenge'. The case study discusses some of the measures taken by Akio and also discusses the challenges that he faced in bringing Toyota back into profits. While many analysts felt that Toyota would bounce back, some analysts expressed doubts over whether Akio would be able to manage a turnaround and pull the company out of the crisis. Some insiders were also worried that the selection of a member of the founding family as President might lead to disunity within the company.


Examine some of the reasons for the problems faced by Toyota in 2009.
Analyze the strategy adopted by Akio Toyoda in his bid to bring Toyota back to profits.
Examine the challenges faced by Akio in achieving his objective.
Explore strategies that Akio could adopt in these difficult economic times.


  Page No.
Introduction 1
The Number One Automaker 2
Problems 3
What Went Wrong? 4
Change in Leadership 5
Back to Basics 6
Regional Autonomy 7
Challenges Ahead 8
Exhibits 10


Transformation, Turnaround strategy, Crisis management, Leadership, Change management, Business strategy, Toyota Production System (TPS), Toyota business model, Lean manufacturing system, Emerging markets, Product strategy, Genchi genbutsu, Just-in-Time (JIT), Jidoka, Global competitiveness, Sustainable growth, Cost reduction, Regional autonomy, Global automotive industry, Toyota

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