This week, the world received the news that the U.S. automobile industry marked a historical moment, as Toyota overtook perennial leader General Motors as the top-selling U.S. car company by annual sales in 2021. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Japanese automaker outsold GM, which had held the top spot since 1931, by “roughly 114,000 vehicles.”
The WSJ report attributes Toyota’s rise mostly to its handling of the computer chip shortage that has roiled the industry, saying the company decided earlier than other U.S. automakers to stockpile the vital component.
The sales rank shift comes as the automobile industry faces what Jim Womack, founder of the lean movement, has called a “once-in-a-century disruption.” The term “lean” was coined in the late 90s to refer to the Toyota Production System, which Womack and co-authors Daniel T. Jones and Daniel Roos identified as a superior approach to manufacturing in the groundbreaking book, The Machine that Changed the World (1990). Other books, including Lean Thinking (2003) and Lean Solutions (2006) by Jones and Womack, showed how lean principles apply to various industries and business management.
In a recent virtual presentation hosted by the Lean Global Network, Womack and Jones were joined by Jose Ferro, founder and president of Lean Institute Brasil, and Jim Morgan, senior advisor at LEI, to explain how lean principles can help automakers navigate the current disruptions.
To learn more, watch the enhanced presentation, The Machine that’s Changing the World … Again by clicking on the image below.
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