Toyota Motor Corporation is a Japanese multinational corporation that manufactures automobiles, trucks and buses. The headquarters of Toyota is located in Toyota, Aichi, Japan. Toyota also provides and participates in other lines of business. It manufactures vehicles sold in the United States under the brand names Toyota, Scion and Lexus. Toyota also owns majority stakes in Daihatsu and Hino Motors, Ltd., and 8.7% of Fuji Heavy Industries, which manufactures Subaru vehicles.
Toyota is the #2 global leader in sales. In July of 2006, for the first time in history, Toyota sold the second most cars and truck in the United States. In the 2006 Forbes Global 2000 it was the twelfth-largest company in the world, and it ranked as tenth in the 2005 list. As of 2005, Toyota produced 8.54 million vehicles, about 500,000 fewer than the number produced by GM, with a profit of 12 billion dollars. The company dominates its home market with about 46% of all new cars registered in 2005 being Toyotas. Toyota is taking the spotlight in the automotive industry away from companies like GM and Chrysler. Toyota also has a large market share in United States, Europe and Africa and market leader in Australia. Toyota combines affordability with great quality. It has significant market shares in several fast-growing South East Asian countries.
The story of the Toyota Motor Corporation began in September 1933 when Toyoda Automatic Loom created a new division devoted to the production of automobiles under the direction of the founder's son, Kiichiro Toyoda. Soon thereafter, the division produced its first Type A Engine in 1934, which was used in the first Model A1 passenger car in May 1935 and the G1 truck in August 1935. Production of the Model AA passenger car started in 1936.
Although the Toyota Group is best known today for its cars, it is still in the textile business and still makes automatic looms (fully computerized, of course), and electric sewing machines which are available worldwide.
Toyota Motor Co. was established as an independent company in 1937. Although the founding family name is Toyoda (豊田), the company name was changed to:
- Signify the separation of the founders' work life from home life;
- Simplify the pronunciation, and
- Give the company a happy beginning. Toyota (トヨタ) is considered luckier than Toyoda (豊田) in Japan, where eight is regarded as a lucky number, and eight is the number of strokes it takes to write Toyota in Katakana. In Chinese, the company and its vehicles are still referred to by the equivalent characters (Traditional Chinese: 豐田; Simplified Chinese: 丰田), with Chinese reading.
During the Pacific War the company was dedicated to truck production for the Imperial Japanese Army. Because of severe shortages in Japan, military trucks were kept as simple as possible. For example, the trucks had only one headlight on the center of the hood.
Fortunately for Toyota, the war ended shortly before a scheduled allied bombing run on the Toyota factories in Aichi.
Commercial passenger car production started in 1947 with the model SA. In 1950 a separate sales company Toyota Motor Sales Co. was established (which lasted until July 1982). In April 1956 the Toyopet dealer chain was established and in 1957 Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A was established.
World Rally Championship
Toyota has also been successful in racing, especially in Rally with the Toyota Celica as well as the Toyota Corolla in the 1980s and 1990s. It has a racing cars and parts division called Toyota Racing Development or TRD.
Championship Auto Racing Teams
Toyota raced in CART (a.k.a. the Champ Car World Series) from 1996 to 2002. Its early years in the series were marked by struggles. Toyota-powered cars, campaigned by the All-American Racers and PPI Motorsports teams, languished at the back of the grid, slow and unreliable. Toyota didn't even lead a lap until Alex Barron led 12 laps at the Vancouver street circuit in September 1998. Toyota started seeing its fortunes improve in 1999 as Scott Pruett took pole position at the final race of the season at the California Speedway. The next year, Juan Pablo Montoya gave Toyota its first-ever CART win at the Milwaukee Mile, the first of 5 races won by Toyota-powered cars that year. Toyota-powered cars won six races in 2001. In 2002, Toyota's final year in the championship, it turned things around completely from its bleak debut. Toyota won the Manufacturer's championship, 10 races, and Cristiano Da Matta rode Toyota power to the driver's championship. As icing on the cake, Bruno Junqueira, also Toyota-powered finished second.
Indy Racing League
Toyota moved to the Indy Racing League in 2003 and provided factory support to former CART teams Penske Racing and Chip Ganassi Racing as well as other teams. They were one of the top engines in their first year, winning the Indianapolis 500 with Gil de Ferran and the championship with Scott Dixon. However, 2004 and 2005 were not so kind and wins were few and far between. Following the 2005 season, the Penske and Ganassi teams announced they would switch engines to Honda, leaving Toyota with no championship contenders. As a result of this and their intent to re-allocate resources for NASCAR, Toyota announced they would leave the series during the offseason.
Prototype Sports Car racing and the 24 Hours of Le Mans
In 1998, Toyota debuted the sleek new GT-One prototype racing cars to compete for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The three Toyota GT-One cars (codenamed TS020) were among the fastest cars on the track, but ultimately failed in their quest for overall victory at Le Mans due to various mechanical and electrical failures. Toyota returned to the Circuit de la Sarthe in 1999 with revised models of it's GT-One prototype. The cars proved to be even faster than the year before, but succumbed to reliability problems during the grueling race. After the 1999 race, Toyota withdrew the GT-One cars in favor of focusing its racing research and development on the future Formula One effort.
Entry into Formula One
In 2002 Toyota started racing in Formula One with Toyota Team Europe, based in Cologne. Despite a huge investment, the team's performances have been mediocre so far. In 2004, top designer Mike Gascoyne was hired; by 2005 the team had advanced from the midfield to challenging for the top positions. Jarno Trulli achieved two second places and one third place in the first five races of the season, helping the team to retain second position in the Constructors Championship for several races. Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher are the team's current drivers.
In November 2009, Toyota finalized its decision to pull out of Formula One, following the exodus of Honda, Sauber, Super Aguri and BMW. According to CEO Akio Toyoda, "Based on the current economic environment, we realise we have no choice but to withdraw."NASCAR
Toyota also races the Toyota Tundra in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, and they will enter NASCAR's Busch Series and Nextel Cup in 2007 with the Toyota Camry.
Cars manufactured by Toyota:
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