Toyota was started in 1933 as a division of Toyoda Automatic Loom Works devoted to the production of automobiles under the direction of the founder’s son, Kiichiro Toyoda. Its first vehicles were the A1 passenger car and the G1 in 1935. The Toyota Motor Co. was established as an independent company in 1937. In 2008, Toyota’s sales surpassed General Motors, making Toyota number one in the world.
Mass production of Toyoda automated loom, displayed at the Toyota Museum in Nagakute-cho, Aichi-gun, Aichi Pref. Japan In 1924, Sakichi Toyoda invented the Toyoda Model G Automatic Loom. The principle of Jidoka, which means the machine stops itself when a problem occurs, became later a part of the Toyota Production System. Looms were built on a small production line. In 1929, the patent for the automatic loom was sold to a British company, generating the starting capital for the automobile development.
Toyoda Standard Sedan AA 1936Vehicles were originally sold under the name “Toyoda” (トヨダ), from the family name of the company’s founder, Kiichirō Toyoda. In April 1936, Toyoda’s first passenger car, the Model AA, was completed. The sales price was 3,350 yen, 400 yen cheaper than Ford or GM cars.
House of Toyota founder Kiichiro Toyoda, near Toyota City In September 1936, the company ran a public competition to design a new logo. Of 27,000 entries, the winning entry was the three Japanese katakana letters for “Toyoda” in a circle.
But Risaburō Toyoda, who had married into the family and was not born with that name, preferred “Toyota” (トヨタ) because it took eight brush strokes (a lucky number) to write in Japanese, was visually simpler (leaving off the diacritic at the end) and with a voiceless consonant instead of a voiced one (voiced consonants are considered to have a “murky” or “muddy” sound compared to voiceless consonants, which are “clear”).
Inside the house of Toyota founder Kiichiro Toyoda, near Toyota City Since “Toyoda” literally means “fertile rice paddies”, changing the name also prevented the company from being associated with old-fashioned farming. Thenewly formed word was trademarked and the company was registered in August 1937 as the “Toyota Motor Company”.
First-generation Toyopet Crown Model RSD (1955/1 – 1958/10)
Toyota at the Rally Dakar, 1992From September 1947, Toyota’s small-sized vehicles were sold under the name “Toyopet” (トヨペット). The first vehicle sold under this name was the Toyopet SA, but it also included vehicles such as the Toyopet SB light truck, Toyopet Stout light truck, Toyopet Crown, Toyopet Master, and the Toyopet Corona.
The word “Toyopet (Japanese article)” was a nickname given to the Toyota SA due to its small size, as the result of a naming contest the Toyota Company organized in 1947. However, when Toyota eventually entered the American market in 1957 with the Crown, the name was not well received due to connotations of toys and pets. The name was soon dropped for the American market, but continued in other markets until the mid-1960s.
By the early 1960s, the US had begun placing stiff import tariffs on certain vehicles. The chicken tax of 1964 placed a 25% tax on imported light trucks. In response to the tariff, Toyota, Nissan Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. began building plants in the US by the early 1980s.
With over 30 million sold, the Corolla is one of the most popular and best selling cars in the world. Toyota received its first Japanese Quality Control Award at the start of the 1980s and began participating in a wide variety of motorsports. Due to the 1973 oil crisis, consumers in the lucrative US market began turning to small cars with better fuel economy. American car manufacturers had considered small economy cars to be an “entry level” product, and their small vehicles employed a low level of quality to keep the price low.
In 1982, the Toyota Motor Company and Toyota Motor Sales merged into one company, the Toyota Motor Corporation. Two years later, Toyota entered into a joint venture with General Motors called the New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc, NUMMI, operating an automobile-manufacturing plant in Fremont, California. The factory was an old General Motors plant that had been closed for two years. Toyota then started to establish new brands at the end of the 1980s, with the launch of their luxury division Lexus in 1989.
In the 1990s, Toyota began to branch out from producing mostly compact cars by adding many larger and more luxurious vehicles to its lineup, including a full-sized pickup, the T100 (and later the Tundra); several lines of SUVs; a sport version of the Camry, known as the Camry Solara; and the Scion brand, a group of several affordable, yet sporty, automobiles targeted specifically to young adults. Toyota also began production of the world’s best-selling hybrid car, the Prius, in 1997.
With a major presence in Europe, due to the success of Toyota Team Europe, the corporation decided to set up Toyota Motor Europe Marketing and Engineering, TMME, to help market vehicles in the continent. Two years later, Toyota set up a base in the United Kingdom, TMUK, as the company’s cars had become very popular among British drivers. Bases in Indiana, Virginia, and Tianjin were also set up. In 1999, the company decided to list itself on the New York and London Stock Exchanges.
In 2001, Toyota’s Toyo Trust and Banking merged with two other banks to form UFJ Bank, which was accused of corruption by Japan’s government for making bad loans to alleged Yakuza crime syndicates with executives accused of blocking Financial Service Agency inspections. The UFJ was listed among Fortune Magazine’s largest money-losing corporations in the world, with Toyota’s chairman serving as a director. At the time, the UFJ was one of the largest shareholders of Toyota. As a result of Japan’s banking crisis, UFJ merged with the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi to become the Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group.
In 2002, Toyota managed to enter a Formula One works team and establish joint ventures with French motoring companies Citroën and Peugeot a year after Toyota started producing cars in France.
Toyota ranked eighth on Forbes 2000 list of the world’s leading companies for the year 2005 but slid to 55 for 2011. The company was number one in global automobile sales for the first quarter of 2008.
In 2007, Toyota released an update of its full-size truck, the Tundra, produced in two American factories, one in Texas and one in Indiana. “Motor Trend” named the Tundra “Truck of the Year,” and the 2007 Toyota Camry “Car of the Year” for 2007. It also began the construction of two new factories, one to build the RAV4 in Woodstock, Ontario, Canada, and the other to build the Toyota Prius in Blue Springs, Mississippi, USA. This plant was originally intended to build the Toyota Highlander, but Toyota decided to use the plant in Princeton, Indiana, USA, instead.
The company has also found recent success with its smaller models—the Corolla and Yaris—as gasoline prices have risen rapidly in the last few years.
From November 2009 through 2010, Toyota recalled more than 9 million cars and trucks worldwide in several recall campaigns, and briefly halted production and sales. Toyota initiated the recalls, the first two with the assistance of the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), after reports that several vehicles experienced unintended acceleration.
Main article: 2009–2010 Toyota vehicle recalls
In 2011, Toyota, along with large parts of the Japanese automotive industry, suffered from a series of natural disasters. The 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami led to a severe disruption of the supplier base and a drop in production and exports. Severe flooding during the 2011 monsoon season in Thailand affected Japanese automakers that had chosen Thailand as a production base. Toyota estimated to have lost production of 150,000 units to the tsunami and production of 240,000 units to the floods.
In October 2012, Toyota announced a recall of 7.43 million vehicles worldwide to fix malfunctioning power window switches, the largest recall since that of Ford Motor Company in 1996. The