Toyota revamping manufacturing approach for future growth

TOKYO - Toyota Motor is expected to notch up another year of bumper profits, but many investors are sceptical about the auto giant's continued growth in the coming years.

Toyota is now working to reinvent the way it designs and manufactures cars to keep its growth engine humming.

The automaker's business is definitely in fine shape, with sales of its key models like the all-new Prius and luxury Lexus brand vehicles on a roll. In fact, Toyota is struggling to manufacture the Prius fast enough to meet demand.

Full speed ahead

The company's Tsutsumi plant in the city of Toyota, Aichi Prefecture, has been running at full tilt to crank out new versions of the Prius since production began in November. While inspecting the plant recently, Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda said, "I will join in (to work on the production line) if necessary," in a pep talk to workers.

Toyota is currently producing the Prius at a rate of one unit per minute in response to strong demand for the new model, which combines high gas mileage with improved driving performance.

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