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How Toyota Took Over

Toyota Motor Corporation is the highest valued, most prominent carmaker on Earth. The success of cars like the Toyota Corolla and crossover SUVs like the Toyota RAV4 helped this Japanese car company rise to the top. Plus, the company puts out sturdy and reliable trucks such as the Toyota 4Runner and Toyota Tacoma pickup. This is how Toyota took over.

2021 Toyota 4Runner driving down a hill
2021 Toyota 4Runner | Toyota

In the beginning

Toyota wasn’t always a car company with a dominating global presence. In fact, it wasn’t even always a car company. Toyota Motor Corporation began as a subsidiary of Toyoda Loom Works. The founder, Kiichiro Toyoda, started the automobile division under the wing of his father’s loom factory.

2001 Tacoma like this red one parked near the shore is the best used pickup truck to buy
2001 Toyota Tacoma | Toyota

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However, Kiichiro needed to learn to make cars. He enlisted engineers from existing Japanese car companies. In addition, he recruited folks from subsidiaries of American car companies like GM. In order to design the first Toyota car, the budding team of Toyota’s first engineers bought vehicles from Ford, Chevy, and Chrysler. They began to take them apart. The engineers took what they liked most from each build. In addition, they used those American cars for inspiration and ultimately created the first Toyota car.

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The company was officially founded in 1937 by Kiichiro Toyoda. This followed the release of the emerging auto maker’s first production vehicle, the model AA, in 1936. Then, with global interest shifting toward efforts in WWII, Toyota Motor auto production also shifted.

However, after the war Toyota began building the trucks that were thought to help Japan rebuild itself as a country. These Toyota pickup trucks are the predecessor of favorites like the Toyota Tacoma pickup. Later in 1950, the US placed a massive order for trucks needed for the Korean War. This was a big break for Toyota Motor Corporation.

a blue 1997 Corolla hatchback
1997 Toyota Corolla | Toyota Motor Corporation

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Toyota production grows

Due to this large order from the U.S. Army, Toyota production increased from 650 vehicles per month to 1,000 vehicles. This gave the company a big push toward a better future. However, the company soon realized that there was more success to be had in other growing markets around the world.

The company’s future of crossovers like the Toyota RAV4 wasn’t even a thought, but great things were still on the horizon. When Toyota turned to the U.S. Market, predecessors of the legendary Toyota Camry and Toyota Corolla loomed on the distant horizon.

2021 Corolla Apex driving
2021 Corolla Apex | Toyota

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Toyota in the U.S.

The first car that Toyota produced for the U.S. market was a flop. The Toyopet Crown compact car didn’t have the success Toyota hoped for. Toyota sold just 287 Toyopet Crowns in 1958. Although Toyota Motor Corporation saw sales of the Crown triple the following year, the company regrouped and began designing cars specifically for the U.S. Market. This worked well for the company, and the rise of Toyota was soon underway. Though this car was still a long way off from the company’s best-selling Toyota Corolla, things were about to gain some momentum.

2021 Toyota RAV4 in the mountains
2021 Toyota RAV4 | Toyota

In 1986, the company was the first import manufacturer to sell 1 million vehicles. By offering quality and reliability at affordable price points, the company made a name for itself and remains one of the top sellers today. According to U.S. News and World Report, Toyota is the highest valued car company in the world. This, of course, is partly due to the immense success Toyota has seen in the U.S. market.

A 2021  Tacoma parked on sand
2021 Toyota Tacoma | Toyota

Trucks like the Toyota Tacoma, or Toyota Hilux in other markets, and the Toyota 4Runner SUV certainly are a big help. Then popular crossover SUVs like the Toyota RAV4 and passenger cars like the Toyota Corolla show no signs of slowing down.