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. 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. Vehicles were originally sold under the name “Toyoda”, 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. 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” 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”).
Since “Toyoda” literally means “fertile rice paddies”, changing the name also prevented the company from being associated with old-fashioned farming. The newly formed word was trademarked and the company was registered in August 1937 as the “Toyota Motor Company”. From 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.
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.
Company Vision“To ensure that our customers receive the best possible quality services which will increase our repeat sales, to continuously building and enhancing our team, and to continuously strive towards upgrading and improving our facilities.”
Company Mission“AMTC is a leading enterprise devoted to providing customers with the highest quality products and services. We strive to achieve success in our investment, always adhering to the strictest ethical and world-class standards. We place high priority on investing in our human resources and in servicing our communities.”