Great things come from small beginnings–a cliché that’s often tagged to success stories. However, the said cliché serves as a perfect description to sum up Toyota Motor Corporation‘s road to prosperity. Before the world saw the Corolla, the Hilux, and the Tamaraw FX, this Japanese manufacturer was driven with a goal and a vision to succeed. Here is the history of Toyota (Infographic).
The Toyota you know today wouldn’t have become a reality if it wasn’t because of an automated loom, which was invented by Sakichi Toyoda. Sakichi was the owner of a Japanese weaving factory and he completed his automated loom invention in 1924. He is also the father of Kiichiro Toyoda, the founder of Toyota.
In 1929, Sakichi decided to sell the patent of his automated loom in England. The money he gained from this transaction was used by his son, Kiichiro, to set up a car business.
Kiichiro established the automotive division of Toyoda Automatic Loom Works in 1933. Of note, the name ‘Toyota’ still didn’t exist at that time as Kiichiro’s car company was a subsidiary of his father’s Toyoda Automatic Loom Works.
A year after establishing the automotive division, the drawings of passenger cars were completed in July 1934. Japan’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry and Ministry of War heard of the progress and requested Toyota Automatic Loom Works to manufacture trucks and buses for reasons of national policy. As such, the company complied and began designing a truck in March 1935.
The truck prototype was built side-by-side with the passenger car prototype. The company introduced the Model G1 truck prototype in November 1935 while the Model AA passenger car was launched in September 1936.
1936 was also the year when Toyoda changed into Toyota. Kiichiro asked the general public for suggestions of what its new logo should be—which resulted in the birth of the Japanese word “Toyota.” According to the company, the change from “Toyoda” to “Toyota” was regarded as favorable because “voiceless consonants sound more appealing than voiced consonants.”
Moreover, the concept of jikaku—counting the number of strokes in writing characters to determine good and bad luck—had a significant influence for the name change. The eight strokes needed to write “Toyota” is associated with wealth and good fortune.
Toyota exported four units of the GA truck, an upgraded version of the G1 truck, to Northeastern China on July 15, 1936. This marked the company’s first exported products.
Toyota appeared to be on a roll, but the Second World War erupted shortly, which halted the company’s opportunity to further expand its business outside of Japan.
Toyota continued to grow and expand its market in Japan despite the war. In 1947, Toyota rolled out the 100,000th domestically-produced vehicle.
Toyota Motor Sales President Shotaro Kamiya departed for the United States on June 23, 1950 to negotiate a partnership with Ford Motor Company. Toyota also took this opportunity to visit and observe Ford’s machinery plants in River Rogue, Highland Park, Dearborn, among others.
In 1957, Toyota USA was established. A year after that, the Toyopet Sedan became Toyota’s first car to be sold in the United States. However, it wasn’t able to get a positive traction due to its price and lack in horsepower. The Toyopet was equipped with a 33 hp gasoline engine.
Toyota launched the Toyopet Corona Model PT20 in March 1960 in Japan. The automaker marketed this product as a family car featuring a “low, spacious, and sleek” body. This car was also praised by the famous Italian car designer Pinin Farina, who was visiting Japan at the time.
The third-generation Corona was introduced in September 1964, featuring a 70 hp engine and a retuned suspension, which Toyota claimed improved the car’s ride comfort. It was a top-selling car from April 1965 to December 1967.
In 1965, Toyota re-launched the Toyopet in the US and rebadged it as the Corona. This car marked Toyota’s first success in the United States.
Toyota’s momentum remained strong during this decade as it acquired Hino Motors, a bus and truck manufacturer; as well as Nippondenso, an electrical components company; and the Daihatsu Motor Company.
The Japanese automaker continued its growth when the Corolla was introduced in 1968—a car that’s regarded as fuel-efficient, compact, affordable, and comes with a low-cost maintenance. The Corolla helped increased Toyota’s export to the United States from 98,000 units in 1968 to 155,000 units in 1969. With this, Toyota became the second-largest import-car brand in the United States in 1969.
Toyota partnered with General Motors Corporation in 1986, which resulted in the birth of a car manufacturing plant named New Unified Motor Manufacturer, Inc. in California. This plant gave Toyota the capability to start producing cars in the US.
In 1989, Toyota launched its luxury brand—Lexus.
Also in 1989, Toyota opened the first two dealerships in the Philippines–Toyota Bel-Air and Toyota Quezon Avenue.
In 1993, the Toyota Santa Rosa Industrial Complex was opened.