Toyota may be the world's biggest carmaker but that title appears more and more likely to pass on to Volkswagen as the Japanese carmaker announces another round of production cuts and plans to change up to 40% of its senior management. The news comes as Toyota reports its first operating loss in 71 years, as well as its lowest production rates in seven years as the financial crisis continues to provide difficult business conditions.

First and foremost will be the appointment next month of the grandson of Toyota's founder, Akio Toyoda, as the company’s new CEO. Toyoda will replace current chief Katsuaki Watanabe, who will step down to the more advisory role of vice chairman.

In addition to a new chief, Toyota will also be replacing approximately 40% of its upper-level managers. Additionally, the company plans to dramatically alter the way it conducts business in North America, with plans to join together the once-separate sales and production aspects of their vehicles.

The news comes as Toyota's worst ever financial year leaves the company bewildered - and things aren't expected to get better any time soon, with Toyota's current CEO predicting even greater losses this year than originally predicted. Toyota was previously expecting a 5.79 billion loss for the financial year but this figure is likely to stretch north of $8.5 billion, reports Automotive News.

To help combat these losses, Toyota is trying to slash costs by around $8 billion. Cost-cutting measures include production cuts, employee lay-offs and postponement of certain models. Last year Toyota managed to produce 9.24 million vehicles but this figure has since been pruned to just 6.68 million units.

Whether or not these measures and a new management team can turn around the company's fortunes remains to be seen, but it looks as though VW is inching closer to its ambitions of becoming the world's biggest carmaker.