TOYOTA CITY, Japan — Satoshi Ogiso doesn’t look or act like a brash automobile executive. With an ill-fitting suit and spiky hairdo, his hands flutter bashfully across his face as he talks of ‘difficulties,’ ‘challenges’ and ‘problems.’ The 45-year-old engineer refuses to brag about his accomplishments. But as chief engineer of the hybrid Prius, Ogiso has helped Toyota revolutionize the auto industry. By making huge long-term investments in gas-saving technologies that U.S. automakers pooh-poohed, Toyota has proved that corporate environmental consciousness can be wildly profitable. ‘What has made this revolution possible is that Toyota is a company with a focus on technology, because we think innovation is the future of our company,’ Ogiso said in an interview. ‘So we cannot fall behind. We are trying very hard, and it is very difficult.’ Ogiso’s humility is typical of Toyota. Its world headquarters in Toyota City, a quiet industrial city 150 miles southwest of Tokyo, has a deceptively modest demeanor: The nondescript, 13-story building looks like it might house a midsize insurance firm in any American suburb. But Toyota is expected to overtake the nearly bankrupt General Motors this year as the world’s largest automaker. While GM […]

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