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Toyota Motor Corp.

is one of the world's biggest and most profitable carmakers, but to hear Akio Toyoda tell it, the Japanese juggernaut is teetering on the edge of ruin, beset by crises that executives are only beginning to grasp.

Toyota's chief rarely opens his mouth in public these days without warning of the "once-in-a-century transformation" assailing the entire industry.

"Over the next 100 years, there is no guarantee that automobile manufacturers will continue to play leading roles in mobility," Toyoda said last fall in a timbre typical of his pronouncements. "A crucial battle has begun — not one about winning or losing, but one about surviving or dying."



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