Still, its new president, Akio Toyoda, has moved quickly since taking charge in June, when he declared his dismay at the company’s financial crisis.
“Like everyone in the company, I am extremely frustrated” about the automaker’s decline, Mr. Toyoda said at his first news conference as president. “So we must start again from the ground up.”
His first target was Toyota’s top management. Already, 40 percent has retired or been reassigned.
Four of Toyota’s five executive vice presidents, the group that now leads the company under Mr. Toyoda, are new to their jobs. Only one, Takeshi Uchiyamada, Toyota’s product development chief, is a holdover from the team that surrounded Mr. Toyoda’s predecessor, Katsuaki Watanabe.
Further, the four newcomers are each in charge of a global region on top of duties within the company. (Mr. Uchiyamada is the only one with a single focus.)
Now Mr. Toyoda is headed for the United States. On Wednesday, he will address a management seminar sponsored by the Center for Automotive Research, near Traverse City, Mich., an annual gathering of the clan in the auto industry.
Toyota dealers and employees, many of whom know Mr. Toyoda from the years he worked in the United States, are eager for a shot of adrenalin from their new boss, the grandson of Toyota’s founder.
“He knows the business,” said P. Compton Cramer Jr., the owner of Cramer Toyota of Venice, Fla., who first met Mr. Toyoda a decade ago.
“He’s going to bring a new kind of energy to the company,” added Josephine Cooper, Toyota’s group vice president of government and industry affairs, who had been Mr. Toyoda’s hostess in Washington before his promotion.
Mr. Toyoda will need to act swiftly. The automaker said Tuesday that net revenue for the latest quarter dipped 38.3 percent from the same period last year to ¥3.836 trillion. But the automaker scaled back its loss forecast for the year to $4.7 billion, citing the effects of government tax breaks for “green” vehicles and aggressive cost-cutting.
Mr. Toyoda’s biggest problem, executives and analysts say, is transforming a lineup dotted with mundane-looking vehicles that buyers bought because of their reliability, not because of their style appeal.
It is a problem shared with Detroit, where executives are striving to inject their automobiles with excitement, too. Unlike G.M. , Ford and Chrysler, however, Toyota cannot reach back to its roots and tap into a DNA of sexy sheet metal.
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And it faces a difficult balancing act: become too aggressive, and Toyota risks chasing off the practical-minded consumers who have been its base for a half-century. Some have already been scared off.
Pamela Templeton, an owner of Fort Myers Toyota in Florida, said Toyota was caught “a little flat-footed” when gas prices hit record levels last year. Despite a longtime focus on small cars, the company bet heavily this decade on trucks like the Tundra and sport utility vehicles like the FJ Cruiser.
So did Ms. Templeton, who spent $13 million to open a separate 165,000-square-foot showroom just for light trucks. The market’s demise forced her to eliminate customer pampering like a massage chair and cappuccino machine. “We had to make hard choices, and I’d rather keep people than fluff,” she said.
Only two years ago, Toyota was riding the crest of a deliberate growth strategy in which it doubled in size and became the world’s biggest car company. Although most carmakers have suffered, Toyota’s rapid decline shocked many at the automaker and the experts who follow it.