Toyota has been around for over 75 years and in that timespan it has built itself up into an automotive giant and one of the largest companies in the world. The automaker has launched numerous vehicles that have become household names, such as the Toyota Camry and Corolla, and has endeared itself to the world due to its commitment to quality and its customer-focused attitude. At 1A Auto, it is our mission to supply you with the right parts you need to keep your Toyota car, truck or SUV working in tip top shape, at a great discount. Simply put, if you are in need of a replacement part for your Toyota vehicle, you've come to the right place. You'll find a large selection of new, high quality aftermarket Toyota auto parts, including headlights, taillights, weatherstripping, mirrors, door handles, exhaust manifolds, radiators, and more, as well as genuine OEM replacement parts - the very same ones you would receive if purchased from your local dealer, but without the inflated cost. However, we don't only just sell replacement Toyota parts online here at 1A Auto; we also carry a selection of new and performance parts such as high flow air filters and bike racks for your Toyota automobile as well.
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Look no further than 1A Auto for your aftermarket, original equipment (OE) replacement, new and performance Toyota auto parts and get your car, truck or SUV the new parts it needs today from Toyota enthusiasts just like you! If you happen to be an enthusiastic Toyota owner, have a deep passion for Toyota vehicles, or just want to learn more about the automobile manufacturer, continue reading below for a detailed look at the brand's history and some of its past and present models.
Toyota Motor Corporation, abbreviated TMC, is a multinational automaker officially founded in Japan in 1937, with its main corporate headquarters currently located in Toyoda, Aichi, Japan. It is part of the Toyota Group, a conglomerate whose companies’ work together and mostly share the Toyota brand. In addition to TMC and many other companies, the Toyota Group also consists of Toyota Industries Corporation, the company from which Toyota Motor Corporation developed.
Toyota markets, sells and distributes its vehicles in the United States through its U.S. devoted subsidiary, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. Toyota automobile manufacturing, research and development in the United States is conducted through another separate subsidiary, Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc. Both are holdings of Toyota Motor North America, Inc., which is a holding company of the aforementioned sales and manufacturing subsidiaries, amongst others, of Toyota Motor Corporation in North America and operates as a wholly owned subsidiary of TMC. Toyota is one of the largest automobile manufacturers in the world in terms of production volume and revenue, and one of the largest companies in general in the world in terms of the latter.
In 1924, Sakichi Toyoda invented the Type G Toyoda Automatic Loom, a machine that, in 2007, would be registered as item No. 16 in the Mechanical Engineering Heritage of Japan, a list consisting of sites, landmarks, machines, and documents that made significant contributions to the development of mechanical engineering in Japan over the course of time. Toyoda had invented a number of other looms prior to this one, but this one was the most impressive and innovative to date. Due to the high number of orders that were expected for the machine, Sakichi understood that a new plant would need to be constructed in order to handle the demand as the workshop he had been building them in was too small for what was to come. Sakichi’s son Kiichiro was heavily involved in the decision-making process involving the new plant. To coincide with the construction of the new plant, Toyoda Automatic Loom Works, Ltd. (TALW) was established by Sakichi as an automatic loom manufacturing company.
Kiichiro Toyoda had different ambitions however; his dream was to someday get into automobile manufacturing and in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s, Kiichiro traveled the world to investigate automobiles and started his own research into gasoline-powered engines. The Japenese government was also encouraging TALW to develop the capabilities to undertake automobile production, as it was in need of domestic vehicles due to the war with China at that time. Prior to his death in 1930, Sakichi told his son to follow his dream and, in 1933, despite the fact that it was considered a risky business venture at the time, Kiichiro made the decision to establish a department devoted to the production of automobiles within TALW, under his direction. The capital that was needed to start the department had been generated in 1929, when the patent for the automatic loom was sold by TALW to a British company.
In 1935, the first “Toyoda” automobile prototypes - the A1 passenger car and the G1 truck - were completed. In 1936, the first vehicle to be produced and sold to the public by the company was released, a passenger car called the Model AA. That same year, the company also ran a public competition to design its logo. The winning entry was chosen, with one small exception. The winning entry featured the three Japanese katakana letters for "Toyoda" in a circle; however, after some internal debate, the name was changed to a similar word in katakana - “Toyota” - for a variety of reasons, one of which was that "Toyoda" literally means "fertile rice paddies", and the company wanted to prevent being associated with old-fashioned farming. Another was that “Toyota” is written with eight strokes in the Japanese language, which is regarded as a lucky number in East Asian culture. The new name was then trademarked and, in 1937, the new Toyota Motor Co., Ltd. was founded as a separate company from TALW.
Toyoda Automatic Loom Works, Ltd. would later go on to become Toyota Industries Corporation and is still in existence today, making various machines and products such as forklifts. It is currently one of the core companies of the Toyota Group, as is Toyota Motor Co., Ltd., which is now known as the Toyota Motor Corporation.
Initially, the company was dedicated to the production of very simple trucks for the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. The trucks were designed to use very little in the way of materials due to wartime shortages; for example, they featured only a single centrally mounted headlight. Following the war, production of vehicles was limited by the Japanese government initially, with full production not resuming until 1949, but one such car to be built was the Toyota SA. The Toyota SA was unveiled in 1947 and was Toyota’s first new passenger car design following WWII. The nickname “Toyopet” was given to the car following a naming contest Toyota ran in 1947 due to the vehicle’s small size. Following this vehicle’s release, all of Toyota's small-sized vehicles would be sold under the Toyopet name, as would other vehicles such as the Toyopet SB light truck - Toyota’s first entry into the pickup truck market - and the Toyopet Stout light truck (initially called the RK).
The Japanese economy however was really struggling as a result of WWII and, after being on the brink of bankruptcy in 1949, Toyota nearly went out of business completely in 1950. One of the many hardships during this difficult period was a labor strike that severely affected production levels. Kiichiro Toyoda ended up resigning from his position as president of the company as a result of these tough times, and he was succeeded by the chief executive of the Toyoda Automatic Loom company, Taizo Ishida. Kiichiro would pass away a couple of years later in 1952. It was also around this same time of financial crisis that a separate sales company, Toyota Motor Sales Co., was established. It operated as a separate company from Toyota Motor Co. Ltd. until the 1980’s.
Demand for military vehicles would once again drive business for Toyota, but this time, the demand came from Japan’s one-time enemy, the United States, which Japan was still under the influence of following WWII. The U.S. military ordered a large number of vehicles to use in the Korean War and this, along with Ishida’s focus on investing in equipment like a new production plant, helped revive the company. Another big factor in the revival and growth of the company was the launch of the now famous Toyota Land Cruiser in 1954. A prototype of the Land Cruiser – initially called the Toyota Jeep as there were many Jeeps being driven in Japan at that time - was actually developed a few years later in response to special needs that had arisen during the Korean War, but the vehicle ultimately was not selected for procurement by military forces. However, the company did not let the vehicle die and continued to pursue the concept. Eventually it convinced Japan’s National Police Agency to adopt it as its patrol car, and other governmental agencies and entities followed suit. After responding to claims of trademark violation by the makers of the original Jeep, the Willys Company, Toyota renamed their vehicle the Land Cruiser. The rest is history as the Land Cruiser continues to be produced to this day and is the longest running vehicle series in Toyota’s history.
Throughout the 1950’s and into the 1960’s as well, Toyota invested in new manufacturing plants and in expanding its sales markets. In April 1956, the Toyopet dealer chain was established and in 1957, it established both its first factory outside Japan in Brazil, and its U.S. sales, marketing and distribution division, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc. (TMS) in California. In the late 1960’s, Toyota signed a partnership deal with Daihatsu Motor Co., Ltd. Daihatsu would go on to release two models in the United States in the late 1980’s, the Charade and Rocky, but the venture was ultimately unsuccessful and Daihatsu USA was closed down only a few years later in 1992. Today, Toyota has a majority controlling interest (51%) in Daihatsu Motor Ltd., which it acquired in 1999.
Toyota would eventually enter the U.S. market in the late 1950’s with the Toyopet Crown, which was the first Japanese car exported to the United States. The first prototypes arrived in 1957 with the car going on sale in 1958. The Toyopet was engineered to be used as a taxi on the bumpy roads of post-war Japan, at which it was quite successful. Its exterior was given a distinctly American look with lots of chrome. It was not, however, a sure fit for the U.S. market. The rugged durability that made it suitable for Japanese taxi use made it too heavy to perform well. The 58 horsepower engine struggled to drag the car up the hills of Los Angeles, where it was being sold. The Toyopet name was also not well received due to connotations of toys and pets and many consumers felt the car was overpriced. After two years of poor sales, Toyota halted passenger car exports to the United States in 1960 until a car better suited to the America could be created, and the Toyopet name was soon dropped from vehicles for the U.S. market, though it lived on in other markets for a time afterwards.
Toyota tested the U.S. market again in 1965 with the Toyota Corona, an update to the Crown. The Corona was specifically designed as a small, fuel-efficient vehicle for American drivers. Commuters in particular flocked to its automatic transmission and fuel economy. The Corona was the first Toyota in the U.S. to sell more than 10,000 units annually. In 1970, it was named the “Import Car of the Year” by Road Test magazine. The popularity of the Corona paved the way for the Corolla and Camry which together established Toyota as an automotive force to be reckoned with.
Becoming an Automotive Powerhouse
The Toyota Corolla was first produced in Japan in 1966 and introduced to the U.S. in 1968. Due to the 1973 oil crisis, U.S. consumers began turning to small cars with better fuel economy. Up until this point, American car manufacturers had thought of small economy cars as more of an "entry level" product, and those that they manufactured typically employed a low level of quality in order to keep the price low. By 1974, the vehicle was the best-selling car in the world. By 1982, the Corolla was being sold in 16 countries and in 1987, Toyota started producing Corolla’s in the U.S. To date, more than 7 million Corolla’s have been sold in the U.S. and more than 30 million worldwide. The Corolla holds the record as the world’s best-selling automobile, all time.
The company continued to produce other successful vehicles throughout the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s. An example was the Toyota Hilux compact pickup truck, which was released in 1968. While most countries have used the name Hilux for the entire life of the series of trucks, it was dropped in North America in 1976 in favor of Truck, Pickup Truck, or Compact Truck. With each subsequent generation that was released, the Hilux (or Pickup) became famous for being extremely durable and reliable. Another successful vehicle was the Toyota Celica coupe. The Celica was introduced in the early 1970’s and existed until the early 2000’s. A sports car whose styling was derived from the Celica, the Toyota Supra, was released in 1978. At first, it was not its own model and was pre-fixed by the name Celica; it wasn’t until 1986 that it became an official model, separate from the Celica. The car was discontinued in 2002. The Toyota Tercel, another subcompact car, was released in 1978 and was another successful vehicle manufactured by the company. It was discontinued in 2000. The Toyota 4Runner was also introduced during this time, in 1984. While the original 4Runner was a compact SUV and little more than a Toyota pickup truck with a fiberglass shell over the bed, the model has since undergone significant redesigns and is now a cross between a compact and a mid-size SUV.
Where the Corolla is Toyota’s biggest worldwide success, the Camry may be Toyota’s biggest U.S. success. It was introduced in 1983 and four years later became the first Toyota manufactured in a U.S. plant entirely owned by Toyota. The Camry has been a Consumer’s Report “Best Buy” every year since 1986, and has been the best-selling car in the U.S. every year from 1997 to 2012, except for 2001. The Camry completed its integration into American culture by competing in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and Busch Series. It was the first international vehicle to do so. Camry’s are built in ten countries and sold in 27 and have sold more than 10 million units worldwide.
In addition to the many successful vehicles Toyota introduced to consumers during this period which helped the automaker become a giant in the industry, it also made numerous organizational changes to strengthen its position as well. In 1977, the company opened the Toyota Technical Center, U.S.A. (TTC) which was established to focus on engineering design, research and development in North America. In 1981, Toyota Motor Co., Ltd. announced that it intended to merge the company with its sales entity Toyota Motor Sales Co., Ltd. The two had operated as separate companies since 1950 due to a prerequisite for reconstruction in postwar Japan. The merger was completed in 1982 and the combined organization then became known as Toyota Motor Corporation, which it still is to this day. Shoichiro Toyoda, Kiichiro’s son, became president of the newly merged company and he remained in that position until 1992.
To close out the 1980’s, Toyota launched the Lexus brand in the United States in 1989 (it wasn’t introduced in Japan until 2005). Today, Lexus is organizationally separated from its parent company Toyota and is sold all over the world. It has become Japan's largest-seller of premium automobiles while maintaining its position in the upper echelon of the top-selling luxury vehicles in not only the U.S., but in the world.
Late in 1989, Toyota introduced a new worldwide logo in order to differentiate it from the new Lexus brand, commemorate the company’s history, and to resolve the issue it was having with worldwide marketing campaign inconsistencies since, up until this point, no guidelines existed for the use of the brand name "Toyota", which was used throughout most of the world. The new logo consisted of three ovals which combined to form 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 between the customer and Toyota, while the larger oval that surrounds the inner ovals represents the "global expansion of Toyota's technology and unlimited potential for the future,” according to the company. The new logo quickly gained worldwide recognition and is still in use today.
In the 1990’s, Toyota began to branch out from the production of predominantly compact cars by adding many larger and more luxurious vehicles to its lineup. One of those vehicles was the Toyota T100, which was a full-sized pickup. Several lines of SUVs were also introduced as well, like the Toyota RAV4. In 1997, the company launched the Toyota Prius. The Corona and Corolla saw success in part due to their fuel-efficiency and consumers’ growing demands for fuel economy in the face of the 1970’s rising gas prices. The Prius captured a similar market when it was released in 1997 in Japan and 2000 in the U.S. When drivers were again becoming concerned with the price of fuel and with environmental concerns, Toyota led the way, releasing the world’s first commercially available gas-electric hybrid vehicle. Perhaps due to its innovation in the field, it is the world’s best-selling hybrid, too. It has won awards from Motor Trend, Car and Driver, and Popular Science¸ but perhaps the most impressive accolade it has achieved is being included as the car piece in an updated version of the board game Monopoly.
In addition to the Prius, one of Toyota’s next big U.S. successes was a uniquely American product. The Toyota Tundra was designed in the United States and is produced only in Indiana and Texas (suitably rugged birthplaces for a pickup truck). Of course, Toyota had some previous experience in the field, having started off building trucks. In fact, the first Toyota production work done in the U.S. was the manufacture of beds for Toyota pickups in 1971. The Toyota Tacoma, which was released in 1995 as the replacement for the Hilux model, and the Toyota T-100 also paved the way for the Tundra’s success. The Tundra was released in 1999, and that same year was named “Truck of the Year” by Motor Trend. To date, more than 5 million Tundra’s have been sold.
Toyota kept on chugging throughout the first decade of the new millennium, releasing more popular and successful vehicles, and has continued to do so. Some of the more recent models that the company has produced since 2000 include the Toyota Venza mid-size crossover SUV, the Toyota Highlander which is another mid-size crossover SUV, the Toyota Sequoia full-size crossover SUV, and the Toyota Sienna minivan, to name just a few. In addition, the company established the Scion division in 2002, launching it in the United States in 2003. Scion is Toyota’s attempt at marketing and selling vehicles to a much younger consumer.
The new millennium also brought about some organizational changes as well. In 2006 the company merged Toyota Motor Manufacturing North America (TMMNA), which was opened in 1996 to oversee all Toyota manufacturing in North America, and Toyota Technical Center, U.S.A. (TTC). The result was the newly established Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc. (TEMA), which brought together all Toyota North American manufacturing, engineering, and research and development activities under one roof.
The company has also faced numerous challenges in recent years as well. From November 2009 through 2010, Toyota recalled more than 9 million vehicles worldwide in several recall campaigns after reports that several cars and trucks were experiencing unintended acceleration. The company initiated the recalls themselves, with assistance from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration(NHTSA) in some cases as well. Production and sales were also briefly suspended on eight of the recalled models in early 2010 so that the company could fix the mechanical problems that could cause the accelerator pedals to become stuck. A lawsuit was brought against the company as a result of this issue, and an agreement worth more than a million U.S. dollars was reached in late 2012 to settle it. A few months prior to the settlement, the company had to recall almost 7 and a half million vehicles worldwide to fix malfunctioning power window switches. This was the largest recall since the Ford Motor Company’s recall in 1996.
In 2011 Toyota, and large parts of the Japanese automotive industry, suffered greatly from a series of natural disasters that rocked the country, including the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami and the severe flooding in Thailand during the monsoon season. The earthquake and tsunami led to a significant disruption toToyota’s supplier base and a drop in production and exports as they had to shutter a number of its manufacturing facilities in the country as a result, while the severe flooding in Thailand affected production greatly as well since it was a base for the company. Toyota estimated to have lost production of hundreds of thousands of units as a result of these catastrophes. As a result, the company was supplanted as the world’s top-selling automaker for 2011 by General Motors (GM), a crown it had held for the past three years.
Toyota has since bounced back from these difficulties. In 2012, it reclaimed the top spot as the world’s top-selling automaker, besting GM, Ford, and the Volkswagen Group, selling 9.75 million vehicles group-wide around the world, which was an all-time record for the company. Sales rebounded a whopping 23 percent year-over year. The quick turnaround of the company’s fortunes is a testament to its resiliency and its commitment to its customers.
While Toyota has been an international company since 1957 when it built its first plant outside of Japan in Brazil, since then the company has only grown larger and today the company has factories all across the world, including Australia, the United States, France, Egypt, and South Africa. They have succeeded by tailoring their vehicles to local markets, making a compact minivan, the Innova, to compete with TATA’s in India and Southeast Asia for example, and modifying the Corolla into the more rugged Tazz for South Africa. Toyota’s success in the U.S. is no different, with vehicles designed specifically for the U.S. market which is an integral part of Toyota’s global success.
In fact, Toyota might also be the only automaker with a military conflict named after it. In conflict between Libya and Chad in 1987, the Chadians used Toyota pickup trucks as improvised fighting vehicles. The Toyota’s were light enough that they could be driven over anti-tank mines without setting them off and were more maneuverable than the Libyan Army’s heavy armored vehicles. The Libyan’s attempted to adopt the Chadian Toyota-tactic, but it was too late and they still lost the conflict. Although it is a dubious distinction to have a war named after one’s company, it does speak to Toyota’s global presence and the versatility of its products. The company has also long been recognized as an industry leader in manufacturing and production, popularizing terms such as "Lean Manufacturing" and Just In Time Production, which it was instrumental in developing.
Undoubtedly, the company’s overall strategy is expressed by the logo it unveiled back in 1989. The way that Toyota has succeeded in the U.S., with models like the Corolla, Camry, Tundra, and Prius, specifically modeled to meet the need of American drivers, is just one example of the way that that consumer-centric attitude has lead Toyota to become the world’s largest automaker.
The Toyota logo is a registered trademark of Toyota Motor Corporation. All rights reserved.