TRAVERSE CITY, MI – Four years ago, almost to the day, the rumors started flying: Toyota Motor Corp. had done the impossible. It soon would be delivering made-to-order cars to customer doorsteps within five days, “just like Dell Computer.” The media had a field day, Wall Street applauded, and competitors sweated. Too bad it all was a misunderstanding. Five-day, build-to-order car on back burner at most auto makers. On Aug. 2, 1999, Ray Tanguay, then vice president-Toyota ...

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