Is Toyota a Japanese Car Company?

Toyota is one of the best-selling car brands on the planet. Nearly everyone everywhere can conjure up the image of a specific model when they hear the Toyota name. But where did it all begin? Surely this legendary automaker has a history. Is Toyota a Japanese car company?

The Toyoda Group

It started out with an automatic loom. Toyota––then Toyoda––was part of Toyoda Automatic Loom Works. The founder of the original Toyota group was the father of Toyota’s founder. After a tour and study in the United States and Europe, Kiichiro Toyoda had gleaned enough knowledge about the production of cars.

So the history of the Toyota automobile began. He had learned about the gas-powered engine and paid attention to the way the automobile industry functioned at the time. In 1933 the division of Toyoda Automatic Loom Works began devoting time and resources to the production of cars. The new division was directed by Kiichiro Toyoda.

2021 Toyota Supra rear
2021 Toyota Supra rear | Toyota

What was the first Toyota?

Technically, the Toyota automobile’s original predecessor is a loom. The Toyoda group’s first automobile, however, was heavily encouraged into development by the Japanese government. According to the Toyota Wikipedia page, Japan needed domestic vehicle production, because of war with China.

a 2007 Toyota Camry was a great car new, and its still great used. This light blue one is parked on the street in front of some gorgeous trees.
the 2007 Toyota Camry | Toyota

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In 1934, the Type A Engine––Toyota’s first engine––was produced for the first Model A1. This Toyota passenger car debuted in 1935. Modern Toyota passenger cars like the Camry hold the Model A1 in their DNA.

Then, in 1936 Toyota began production of the Model AA. Interestingly enough, the earliest Toyota vehicles were strikingly similar to the Dodge Power Wagon and Chevrolet. In fact, these models even had a few interchangeable parts with the American cars that facilitated inspiration for the new autos designed by the up and coming Japanese car company.

A can dealership lot with Toyota Camrys for sale
A Toyota dealership | Yichuan Cao/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The first Toyota truck

One of Toyota’s claims to fame is its trucks. The Toyota Tundra, Toyota Tacoma, and the Toyota Hilux each account for a massive chunk of Toyota’s global sales. Even the SUVs that we know and love today are a huge part of the Toyota family.

Rugged SUVs such as the 4Runner and the Sequoia help give the Toyota brand its good reputation. But when did this Japanese car company make its first truck? The G1 truck made its entrance into the auto scene in August of 1935.

a trail edition 4runner SUV off-road in some hilly countryside
2021 4Runner Trail Edition | Toyota

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Where did the name come from?

Of course, it came from ‘Toyoda,’ the carmaker’s namesake and founding father company. However, why did it change to Toyota from Toyoda? When you write Japanese characters, Toyota can be written in eight strokes. So, the company decided to adopt this spelling in 1937, according to Toyota’s website. Ancient Japanese culture honors the number 8 as a lucky number, thus hoping to bring luck to both the country and the company.

Toyota Motor Corp. logos are displayed outside one of the company's dealerships on May 8, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan
The Toyota emblem | Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

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Is Toyota Japanese?

Yes, Toyota is a Japanese car company. Over the years, the Toyota brand has grown in popularity and enjoys an excellent reputation for the dependability and reliability of its vehicles. Today, the headquarters remain in Japan. The Honsha plant––Toyota’s second mass-production plant. The Toyota Technical Center is also there, located near the carmaker’s headquarters.

Toyota Headquarters high rise in Toyota City
Toyota Headquarters | Wikipedia

From producing military trucks in World War II, to the post-war passenger car the SA, Toyota has not only served the interest of its customers. The auto conglomerate also stands strong for its country. With a global presence in the automotive industry, Toyota continues to innovate and propel toward the future. All of its history lead up to great modern models such as the Corolla, or the Avalon.

2019 Toyota Hilux Pickup parked in the desert
2019 Toyota Hilux Pickup | Toyota