Toyota 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. Toyota Motor Co. was established as an independent company in 1937.
Recent company developments
2007–2010 financial crisis
On May 8, 2009, Toyota reported a record annual net loss of US$4.2 billion, making it the latest automobile maker to be severely affected by the 2007–2010 financial crisis.
2009–2010 vehicle recalls
In January 2010, Toyota announced it was recalling up to 1.8 million cars across Europe, including about 220,000 in the UK, following problems with defective accelerator pedals Many Toyota models were involved, covering the 2007–2010 model years. Toyota subsequently recalled the Prius model for reprogramming of its ABS system. The U.S. Sales Chief, James Lentz, was questioned by the United States Congress committees on Oversight and Investigations on February 23, 2010, as a result of recent recalls. On 26 March Toyota said it would halt production in France and Britain for 12 days because of poor sales following the recalls. On 6 April 2010, The US government sought a record penalty of US$16.375 million from Toyota for its delayed response in notifying the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regarding the defective accelerator pedals,and on 19 April Toyota said that it would pay the fine. The company said the recalls could cost the company up to US$2 billion (GB£1.25 billion) in lost output and sales.
Toyota headquarters in Toyota City, Japan
Vehicles were originally sold under the name "Toyoda" (トヨダ), from the family name of the company's founder, Kiichirō Toyoda. In September 1936, the company ran a public competition to design a new logo. Out 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 fortuitous number) to write in Japanese, was visually simpler (leaving off the diacritic at the end) and with a voiceless consonan 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 helped to distance the company from associations with old-fashioned farming. The newly formed word was trademarked and the company was registered in August 1937 as the "Toyota Motor Company".
In predominantly Chinese-speaking countries or regions using traditional Chinese character, e.g. Hong Kong and Taiwa, Toyota is known as "豊田". In predominantly Chinese speaking countries using simplified Chinese character (e.g. China), Toyota is known as "丰田" (pronounced as "Fēngtián" in the Mandarin Chinese dialect). These are the same characters as the founding family's name "Toyoda" in Japanese, which translate to "fertile rice paddies" in the Chinese language as well.
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 S but it also included vehicles such as the Toyopet SB light truck, Toyopet Stou light truck, Toyopet Crow and the Toyopet Corona. 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.
With over 30 million sold, the Corolla is one of the most popular and best selling cars in the world.
The Toyota Motor Company 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 U.S. 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 in order to keep the price low.
By the early sixties, the US had begun placing stiff import tariffs on certain vehicles. The Chicken tax of 1964 placed a 25% tax on imported commercials vans. In response to the tariff, Toyota, Nissan Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. began building plants in the U.S. by the early eighties.
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 NUMMI, the New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc, 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 Scio 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 TMME, Toyota Motor Europe Marketing & Engineering, 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 Indian, Virginia and Tianjin were also set up. In 1999, the company decided to list itself on the New York and London Stock Exchanges.
Toyota Deutschland's headquarters in Cologne
In 2001, Toyota's Toyo Trust and Banking merged to form the UFJ, United Financials of Japan, which was accused of corruption by the 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, the UFJ was merged again to become 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. The company was number one in global automobile sales for the first quarter of 2008.
On December 7, 2004, a U.S. press release was issued stating that Toyota would be offering Sirius Satellite Radios. However, as late as January 27, 2007, Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite radio kits were not available for Toyota factory radios. While the press release enumerated nine models, only limited availability existed at the dealer level in the U.S. As of 2008, all Toyota and Scion models have either standard or available XM radio kits. Major Lexus dealerships have been offering satellite radio kits for Lexus vehicles since 2005, in addition to factory-equipped satellite radio models.
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 gas prices have risen rapidly in the last few years.
Logo and branding
The 1936 Toyota Model AA, with the original Toyoda logo
In 1936, Toyota entered the passenger car market with its Model AA and held a competition to establish a new logo emphasizing speed for its new product line. After receiving 27,000 entries, one was selected that additionally resulted in a change of its monikor to "Toyota" from the family name "Toyoda." It was believed that the new name sounded better and its eight-stroke count in the Japanese language was associated with wealth and good fortune. The original logo no longer is found on its vehicles but remains the corporate emblem used in Japan.
Still, there were no guidelines for the use of the brand name, "TOYOTA", which was used throughout most of the world, which led to inconsistencies in its worldwide marketing campaigns.
MEGAWEB, Toyota's permanent exhibition showroom and museum in Odaiba, Tokyo
To remedy this, Toyota introduced a new worldwide logo in 1989 in conjunction with and to differentiate it from the newly released luxury Lexus brand. There are three ovals in the new logo that combine to for the letter "T", which stands for Toyota. The overlapping of the two perpendicular ovals inside the larger oval represent the mutually beneficial relationship and trust that is placed between the customer and the company while the larger oval that surrounds both of these inner ovals represent the "global expansion of Toyota's technology and unlimited potential for the future."
The logo started appearing on all printed material, advertisements, and dealer signage starting in 1990 and on the cars themselves in 1991.
The stylized Toyota logo word in stylized form, trademarked at the USPTO, and filed by Toyota Jidosha Kabushiki Kaisha
1957 is the year the first Toyota vehicles were exported to the United States by the Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. However, it wasn't until Friday, June 9, 1967 that the first trademark application with the USPTO for TOYOTA was filed by Toyota Jidosha Kabushiki Gaisha. The trademark application was filed for Automobiles and motor trucks in Class 19, Non-metallic Building Materials. It also indicates the first use of the trademark name was on March 29, 1958. The application also includes a reference that, "Toyota" translates in English to, "Richfield." This is likely a variation of the Toyoda family name translation of "fertile rice paddies." U.S. trademark registration was on January 30, 1968.
The stylized depiction of the letter "T" logo, trademarked at the USPTO, and filed by Toyota Jidosha Kabushiki Kaisha
Toyota also submitted trademark application at the same time on June 9, 1967 for the first auto models imported to the United States Corona, and Crown. Registration was granted on January 30, 1968 and February 6, 1968 respectively.
Regarding Toyota's current "T" logo, a trademark was filed on Friday, September 15, 1989 with registration to Toyota Jidosha Kabushiki Kaisha granted on October 12, 1993. The "T" design code is described by the USPTO with multiple descriptions for the geometric designed logo. Code 26032 for, "Plain single line ovals;" 260316 for, "Ovals touching or intersecting;" 260317 for, "Concentric ovals and ovals within ovals;" and 270301 for, "Geometric figures forming letter or numerals, including punctuation." The "T" trademark is filed in the Vehicles and Products for locomotion by land, air or water category for automobiles and structural parts thereof.
Toyota, Corona, Crown, and the "T" logo trademarks are all registered and renewed and owned by Toyota Motor Company, Ltd., Toyota-shi, Aichi-ken, Japan.
Toyota has been involved in many global motorsports series. They also represent their Lexus brand in other sports car racing categories. Toyota also makes engines and other auto parts for other Japanese motorsports including formula Nippon, Super GT, formula 3 and formula Toyota series. Toyota also runs a driver development programme known as TDP (Toyota Young Drivers Program) which they made for funding and educating future Japanese motorsports talent. Toyota Motorsport GmbH, with and headquarters in Cologne, Germany) was previously responsible for Toyota's major motorsports development including Formula One. Toyota Motorsport GmbH also developed cars for World Rally Championship and Le Mans Series. Toyota enjoyed success in all these motorsports categories. In 2002, Toyota entered Formula One as a constructor and engine supplier, however despite having experienced drivers and a larger budget than many other teams, they failed to match their success in other categories, with five second places their best results. On 4 November 2009 Toyota announced they were pulling out of the sport due to the global economic situation.
Toyota Racing Development was brought about to help develop true high performance racing parts for many Toyota vehicles. TRD has often had much success with their after market tuning parts, as well as designing technology for vehicles used in all forms of racing.TRD is also responsible for Toyota's involvement in NASCAR motorsports.