With 7.8 million cars and trucks rolling off the production line in 2009, Toyota is the world’s largest vehicle producer. A pioneer of hybrid technology, this Japanese marque prides itself on quality and innovation. Its range extends from tiny economy cars through state-
AFTER GRADUATING in mechanical engineering at Tokyo Imperial University, Kiichiro Toyoda wanted to start building cars in his father Sakichi’s factory, which produced automatic weaving looms. To learn about the automotive business, Kiichiro visited car manufacturers in Europe and the United States. After the sale of one of his father’s loom patents to a British company in 1929 he was allowed to use the money from this deal to set up the automobile side of the business.
Toyota Tiara sedan
The Tiara sedan was an export version of the Corona. Here, model Diane Chiljan poses for the cameras at a publicity event to mark the car’s official U.S. unveiling in New York, 1960.
In 1930 Kiichiro built a two-
The following year, the Toyota Motor Company Limited was formed. The name was changed from Toyoda to Toyota because it was easier to pronounce in English,and, crucially, when written in Japanese it had eight strokes-
The Crown, one of the marque’s best-
By 2009 the Toyota Corolla had sold 25 million worldwide. Under Eiji Toyoda, the company adopted an aggressive acquisitions policy, taking over Hino in 1966 and Daihatsu in 1967. Expansion was rapid, and Toyota grew from the world’s fifth-
Shoichiro Toyoda, Kiichiro’s son, became president of the Toyota Group in 1982. One of the first all-
For Toyota, motor sport has become an increasingly important marketing tool: The Celica won the World Rall Championship in 1993, 1994, and 1999, and in 2002 Toyota made its first foray into Formula 1. Toyota has also carved out a name for itself as a leader in the field of hybrid vehicles, which combine conventional engines with electric motors. The Prius, on sale from 1997, was the world’s first massproduced hybrid; by the end of 2010, it had notched up around 2 million sales. As Toyota grew, it established factories throughout the world. It now has a manufacturing presence in 26 countries, and always tries to exploit the opportunities that each presents; one example is the Aygo city car, built in the Czech Republic since 2005 as a joint project with Peugeot. Akio Toyoda, son of Shoichiro, was made president in 2009 and led Toyota through its most difficult challenge for 60 years: the recall of over 8 million cars due to faulty accelerator pedals. With recall costs of $1.93 billion, the crisis resulted in huge losses for Toyota and tarnished its reputation for quality.