Tatsuro Toyoda, the son of the founder of the Toyota Motor Company and a key reason for the company's expansion in the international market, passed away on Dec. 30 at the age of 88.
Toyoda died of pneumonia, according to a statement from the company, but his location at the time are unknown, as reported by The New York Times. He is survived by his wife, Ayako, and their son.
Toyoda received a degree in mechanical engineering in Tokyo before coming to the U.S. to attend New York University, where he obtained an M.B.A.
From 1992-1995 he served as the seventh president of Toyota, he also led the first American factory for the company's joint venture with General Motors in 1983. The partnership merged the Japanese factory concept with an American labor force and union. At the time it was unprecedented. The factory in Fremont, CA was used to build Chevrolet Novas, Toyota Corollas, and many other vehicles before it closed its doors in 2010.
Toyota sells more than 10 million vehicles annually and is also the dominant manufacturer in NASCAR in recent years. The NASCAR Monster Energy Cup champion has driven a Toyota in two of the last three seasons and Toyota was also the car of the 2016 Xfinity Series champion. Last season in the Cup series the top-two cars were Toyotas, with two more rounding out the top-7.