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L-R: Ray Tanguay and Yoshi Inaba of Toyota Motor North America .


We always like to salute Canadians who have done well in the world, so today let's give a round of applause to Ray Tanguay, now the highest-ranking non-Japanese executive at Toyota Motor Corp.

Tanguay, 61, has been running Toyota's manufacturing operations in Canada, including attracting hundreds of millions of investment to build a new plant in Woodstock, Ontario to build RAV4s. That plant has added several thousand manufacturing jobs to Canada - good-paying ones.

As of April 1, Tanguay will be a senior managing officer, a newly created position. Four other foreigners rank one rung below him: Jim Lentz, president of Toyota Motor Sales USA; Steve St. Angelo, chairman of Toyota's Kentucky and Mississippi plants; Didier Leroy, president of Toyota Motor Europe; and Johan van Zyl, president of South African operations.

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Meanwhile, Yoshi Inaba, 65, will continue to lead Toyota North America and Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. while becoming one of 18 directors to lose board seats.

Tanguay's star is on the rise, while Inaba's is in descent. We know that because Tanguay helped craft a new Toyota corporate plan, outlined today in Japan.

A key piece of that plan has to do with North America being positioned as Toyota's global centre of development for mid-sized vehicles such as the Camry sedan. As part of that, Toyota will delegate more authority to regional operations to better tailor vehicles to local markets.

Toyota Global Vision outlines Toyota's strategy to return to growth in a midterm business plan. The plan by 2015:

  • Nearly double operating profit to at least 1 trillion yen ($11.7 billion);
  • Boost annual sales of Toyota and Lexus vehicles to 9 million, from 7.53 million this year;
  • Deliver sustainable profit margins of 5 per cent;
  • Expand emerging market business to account for half of global sales, from 40 per cent;
  • Generate 15 per cent of global sales from China, the world's largest auto market.

Tanguay was tapped to spearhead a group of global committees that generated the targets and priorities outlined in the Global Vision announced today. The smart money is betting that within the year Inaba will retire and Tanguay will then promoted to head all of Toyota's operations in North America.

Quite the cap to a successful Toyota career for Tanguay, a Canadian.

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