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(established 1933)

Kichiro Toyoda, mechanical engineering graduate of Tokyo Imperial University, founded this leading Japanese automobile manufacturing company in Nagoya in 1933 within the Toyoda Loom Works Ltd. Like Masujiro Hahimoto at Nissan, he was a key figure in the development of the Japanese automobile industry. After the production of the Model A1 prototype, the G1 truck, and the Model AA saloon the enterprise was formally incorporated in 1937 as the Toyota Motor Company. The Automobile Manufacturing Industry Law had been passed in the previous year, forcing both General Motors and Ford, which had commenced large‐scale automobile production of Model Ts and Chevrolets in Yokohama and Osaka in 1925 and 1927 respectively, out of the Japanese market place. This paved the way for both Toyota and Nissan to embark upon full‐scale automobile production. The 1936 AA saloon was Toyota's first passenger car. Marketed as a ‘streamlined car’, it bore a striking resemblance to the 1934 Chrysler Airflow, a model admired by Kichiro Toyoda. However, the AAs were mainly used as taxis and government vehicles. The Second World War disrupted automobile production, which was not resumed until 1947, when a limited number of units was allowed. Toyota produced its small Model SA passenger saloon in 1947, nicknamed ‘Toyopet’ by the public. However, in 1955 the company began manufacturer of the Toyopet Crown Model R8 in 1955, the first entirely Japanese‐made passenger car for family use. Both durable and comfortable, the Crown boosted the morale of the Japanese automobile industry, coinciding with the launch of operations at the company's Motomachi factory, Japan's first large‐scale passenger car production plant. However, although it helped establish a domestic appetite for Japanese cars it was still also comparatively expensive (several times the average salary) and its performance was not on a par with international standards. It was exported to the United States in 1957. The Toyopet Crown De Luxe Type RS31 was launched in 1960 and was also exported to the USA. In the following year the company launched the Publica (now Corolla) range of cars, available through Publica dealerships. Three years later the Toyopet Corona RT40 was launched and was successful in both domestic and foreign markets, reaching international standards of comfort and performance. The Toyota Corolla launched in 1966, the same years as the Datsun Sunny, was the company's most successful model and did much to make motoring an aspect of everyday Japanese life. Within four years more than a million Corollas had been sold. The 1960s saw an international expansion of the company, with the establishment of manufacturing plants in Asia, South Africa, and Portugal, an outlook that gathered momentum in the following decades. Toyota also established a series of Research and Development Centres around the world, placing it advantageously to trade in the major market places of Europe, North America, and Japan. These included the company's Tokyo Design Centre (1990) and Tokyo Design Research Lab (1996). In 1988 the company established its luxury Lexus mark followed, in 1989, by a new brand mark for Toyota. The latter consisted of three ellipses, two of them crossing in the centre to represent the letter ‘t’ with the third ellipse representing ‘the spirit of understanding in design’. Having established its Toyota Hybrid System for powering vehicles in 1997 the company was committed to the development and marketing of hybrid‐powered cars such as the Coaster hybrid electric vehicle (1997) and the Toyota Prius (1997). The latter was selected as the 2004 ‘North American Car of the Year’ and Motor Trend's ‘Car of the Year’ on account of its exceptional value and superiority in its class. In October 1999 Toyota manufactured its 100 millionth vehicle in Japan and, in June 2002, its 10 millionth vehicle produced in North America. By the early 21st century Toyota was the third largest automobile manufacturer in the world, and the largest in Japan, producing 5.5 million cars a year.


Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.

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