Toyota's Okuda On Catching Up With Ford

When Hiroshi Okuda took the wheel at Toyota Motor Corp. three years ago, he set extremely aggressive goals. By 2000, he wanted to increase production by 27%, to 6 million autos and trucks a year, and he hoped some day to pass Ford Motor Corp. to become No.2 in the industry. Those goals are looking a lot tougher to reach now that auto sales are tanking both in Japan and in the rest of Asia. Still, Toyota earned a record $3.3 billion last year, largely because of the weak yen, and it's sitting on an estimated cash pile of $38 billion. In a meeting room at the Palace Hotel on May 27, Okuda, 65, discussed his plans with Tokyo correspondent Emily Thornton.

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