Toyota is a brand that holds 40% hold in the global automobile industry. In India itself, the company has been strongly selling safer cars from more than 20 years now. But it was not always a carmaker. Yes, that’s true. The company started with something else. Let’s dig deeper into the history and find out.
1918: The Brand Is Born
Sakichi Toyoda with his son, Kiichiro Toyoda created Toyoda Spinning and Weaving Company, the company responsible for inventing Japan’s first power loom. By 1924, Sakichi was able to build an automatic loom which was his lifelong dream. Toyoda Automatic Loom Works was established in 1926. But Kiichiro was not ready to settle and he made a visit to Europe and the USA in the late 1920s. This is when the interest for automotive industry kicked in.
1936: First-ever car from the company
Sakichi Toyoda died in 1930 leaving all on the shoulders of his son. With the seed funding his father gave, Kiichiro started a car factory. Toyoda Model AA, yes! this was the name of their first car. It was rather a prototype made by the company.
1937: Toyota comes into existence
Sakichi sold the patent rights for his automatic loom and received $1,23,970 in return. Kiichiro used this amount to lay the foundation of Toyota Motor Corporation. Kiichiro Toyoda left behind two legacies. One was the TMC and the other is the Toyota Production System. His philosophy- producing precise quantities of already ordered items while making sure that there is a minimum possible wastage. Automakers around the globe still use this production system.
1939: World War II
With the damages, Japan had to sustain, industries crashed. But Toyota was not ready to give in to the disruption. But there was something opposite waiting for the company. With increasing prices of raw materials, the company was reporting a loss on a regular basis. This led to the labour union thinking of job cuts soon. By 1950, there was a dispute between the loss-ridden company and the labour.
1955: Company emerges from the conflicts
This year marked the entry of Toyota Crown, the first-ever car to be introduced by carmaker for the customers of Japan. It was made to ease the demands of public transportation in Japan. Toyota acquired around 40% share of the market and became the largest automotive manufacturer in Japan. Within two years of great success in the country, Toyota started to enter the international markets. In the USA, the car was introduced in 1957 with features like radio, heater and white wall tyres which earned the name “Baby Cadillac” for it.
Since then, the company never looked back. In 1963, Toyota stepped into the European markets too. In 1965, Toyota introduced Corolla to the world which still is a very popular premium sedan. The company gained enough reputation to take on the local rivals in the countries it was entering. Toyota was already gaining popularity over other brands in the markets of the USA and Europe.
1999: Toyota Comes To India
Suzuki in a merger with Maruti Udyog was already in India from 1982. It took another 18 years for another Japenese brand to set afoot at our shores. Toyota entered India with a joint venture with Kirloskar. The first-ever car Toyota Kirloskar introduced in India was Toyota Qualis, an MPV sold by the name of Kijang in Japan. The MPV became a famous one in India.
Another MPV launched by Toyota was Innova. The rear-wheel driven Innova was loaded with features at that time and was still affordable. This is what has made the MPV one of the best-selling MPVs of all time. Innova has been ruling the segment since its inception.
In the meanwhile. the company also introduced the Toyota Fortuner in 2009. The SUV has been a heartthrob since then among the SUV buyers and has been one of the best selling in the segment.
The company also tapped in the sedan segment with Corolla in 2003. It brought with it, reliability, comfort and luxury, which raised the standards of luxury in the sedan segment. By 2004, Toyota Corolla became the largest selling executive sedan in India. The company also introduced the likes of Toyota Etios Liva, Camry and Yaris. Toyota has introduced cars in every segment and for every type of buyer.
It has been known for reliability, affordability and comfort. This has made Toyota stay in the top 6 automakers in India. Company has been strongly making a presence from 20 years now.
2019: The Year Of Distress In Indian Automobile Industry
Toyota completed 20 years in India last year. But the 20th anniversary was not as good as the company planned. With BS6 emission norms announced and the consumer preferences changing, the industry saw a great dip in sales. Toyota was also one of the manufactures to face hardship at this time. But the company took a decision to collaborate with India’s largest carmaker, Maruti Suzuki. Under this collaboration, Maruti Suzuki will share 25-30% of the product volume with Toyota to rebadge. The first product to get rebadged was the Baleno which launched under the name of Glanza in the company’s arena.
With Toyota maintaining a good spot in the automotive industry globally, the future for the company looks bright as it has always been known for the sturdiness of the vehicles. If you see a 2005 Toyota Innova running smoothly on the road, no need to get stunned as these machines were made to last by the company that was established with the same principle.
The companies might come and go but the ones that stay are the ones that believe in innovation. With the fast pace the time is changing, what do you think about the future of Toyota? Will it perish at the hands of the changing consumer preferences? Or will Toyota innovate a way into success?