While domestic manufacturers used to dominate the American car market, over the decades, Japanese companies have steadily risen to the top. Some people credit the success of the Japanese car industry to the philosophical approach of its leading companies. For example, Toyota has used two manufacturing philosophies that have revolutionized the automobile industry. One is the principle of kanban, which translates to “just in time.” Instead of relying on vast stockpiles of materials that waste space and become lost, Toyota plants procure supplies exactly when they need them - just in time. Toyota also relies on a concept called kaizen, which challenges employees at all levels to find ways to improve performance and learn new things. The latter principle may have been the reason Toyota was the first company to mass-produce a hybrid car. Now, Toyota is a leading hybrid manufacturer. Other Japanese automobile manufacturers have followed suit, while U.S. companies have mostly lagged behind.
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