Why Is Toyota the World\'s Most Successful Car Company?

Is it the result of Intelligent Design (ID) or Evolution?

Some of both, but it is the inexorable forces of evolution in a stressful environment that have made intelligent design one of the requirements for survival. The evolutionary imperative is always 'adapt or die.'

The environmental stress that Toyota has always faced in the US market is a factor of production that only domestic car companies can buy, i.e. US politicians.

While domestic companies and their unions have been able to procure stiff protective tariff barriers and regulations, Toyota has been forced to compete in terms of quality and customer focus.

In the long run, US protectionism is likely to be the best thing that ever happened to Toyota, and at the same time, the primary causal factor in relegating GM and the UAW to the dust bin of history.

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Amen, brother. I've said the

Amen, brother. I've said the same exact thing.

Toyota also excels at

Toyota also excels at efficiency. Isn't Toyota where the whole concept of lean manufacturing started? Anyway, good post.

So that would be

So that would be Unintelligent Design.

An unintelligently designed

An unintelligently designed environment that promotes the rapid evolution of your competitors? Ingenious! :juggle:

Don Lloyd writes: US

Don Lloyd writes:

US protectionism is likely to be the ... the primary causal factor in relegating GM and the UAW to the dust bin of history.

Are you arguing that this would have happened more slowly or not at all if Toyota hadn't had to fight protectionism?  I don't see the evidence for that.
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Are you arguing that this

Are you arguing that this would have happened more slowly or not at all if Toyota hadn’t had to fight protectionism? I don’t see the evidence for that.

Well what about those stories you always hear about cripples who climb Mt. Everest? It seems perverse for our psychology to be this way, but humans sometimes indeed do better in difficult high-stress situations than in the easier ones.

some people would recite the

some people would recite the old manra, "necessity is the mother of invention."

Having to compete in a market where it was on uneven ground with its domestic counterparts required that Toyota innovate and find new ways to acheive its goals. Because of the barriers impeding its progress, Toyota decided to develop what we now know as "just in time" inventory management.

The implication is that the domestic firms were not subject to the artificially created barriers, and thusly did not need to overcome them. As a result, they had no motive or incentive to develop such a process.

It is certainly possible that the domestic firms would have eventually developed such a procedure. But the fact of the matter is that they had not. Toyota *needed* to develop JIT in order to remain profitable and competitive.

The UAW to the dustbin of

The UAW to the dustbin of history, eh? Until, of course, immiseration and maybe even revolution. :behead: :grin:

You should really thank your lucky stars for things like the UAW. It and things like it stood between you and your backs up against the wall---which happened in other countries which weren't so fortunate.

At times libertarians seem admirably humanistic to me, but at times they seem totally foreign and alien. It seems almost like an unseemly jubilation at lives destroyed, pensions terminated, and health care denied.

I don't think that anyone is

I don't think that anyone is expressing jubilation towards the specifics of the situation...

That GM, Delphi, etc., are in the unfortunate position of being forced to welch on their contractual agreements is certainly a tragedy, but I think the anti-libertarians tend to overlook the role that the UAW (and its counterparts) played in creating the problem that we currently have - namely maintaining that workers with little or no marketable skills be compensated like kings, and lobbying for legislation against companies whose business models differed significantly from their own agenda.

"Every injustice is profitable for someone ... to express alarm over the dislocation that ending an injustice occasions the person who is profiting from it is as much as to say that an injustice, solely because it has existed for a moment, ought to endure forever." - Bastiat

Insofar as the UAW is merely

Insofar as the UAW is merely a tool for negotiating with a successful company without the coercive backing of Uncle Sam (a two-edged sword, as I'm sure some coal miners will attest), bully for them. But once they've won the negotiation and are simply a means for coercing political contributions under the guise of collective bargaining, they've lost the moral high ground. And once they begin bullying a dying company, they've already lost the negotiation.

It's arguable whether the stories about unions serving as a bulwark *against* anything were ever true, or at least universally true. They negotiated for a better deal, but there had to be something there to negotiate for in the first place. As de Jouvenal pointed out, the difference is worth knowing because we might make the mistake of thinking that fruit is created by shaking trees and nobody will ever think to plant them and raise them in the first place if too much emphasis is placed on shaking.

One of the shaping forces in Toyota's history was MacArthur's occupation. At first, he forced unions on the Japanese because he thought they were necessary to stand against industrialists (the Japanese had banned them because they thought they harbored communists). Toyoda apologized to his workforce for having to require a go-between. Then, MacArthur banned unions because it turned out that communists were using them to rouse rabble. The macro measures in place during the recovery period made it impossible to be able to buy new tooling, so Toyota had to devise a way to make due with existing equipment. The result was fast die changeover (single minute exchange of dies, or SMED) and the birth of lean manufacturing. Some of the ideas came out of their history as a textile manufacturer, however (like their use of autonomation, machines that told the operator when something was wrong).

You must be confusing the

You must be confusing the U.S. with France or Germany ~ compared to them, our "stiff protective barriers" are a non-issue. We are in the 21st century, where GM has made process improvements ~ JIT was developed in the 50's / 60's, so you are a couple of decades behind, mate! GM/Ford have learned from their mistakes of the 70's and allthough I am not pro-union nor work for the auto industry, I do feel our fellow Americans need to be more political in our purchasing habits, esp. in these times. Japan & China are now laughing all the way to the bank....

jacksprat, You must be

jacksprat,

You must be confusing the U.S. with France or Germany ~ compared to them, our “stiff protective barriers” are a non-issue. We are in the 21st century, where GM has made process improvements ~ JIT was developed in the 50’s / 60’s, so you are a couple of decades behind, mate! GM/Ford have learned from their mistakes of the 70’s and allthough I am not pro-union nor work for the auto industry, I do feel our fellow Americans need to be more political in our purchasing habits, esp. in these times. Japan & China are now laughing all the way to the bank….

You've missed the point completely. It was the protective barriers of 20 or 30 years ago that forced Toyota to become hypercompetitive in order to survive. JIT by itself would be of little use to Toyota without access to the US market.

GM/Ford and the UAW have certainly learned from their mistakes, but they will never recover from their impact.

To be fair, even with a perfect crystal ball, GM/Ford and the UAW would not have been able to save themselves because of who they were.

Regards, Don