Toyota Through The Years
The name was changed to Toyota in 1937 for several reasons, including the fact that Toyoda means "fertile rice paddies" in Japanese. When the new company was registered, the newly formed word Toyota was trademarked at the same time. From September of 1947, Toyota vehicles were sold using the name Toyopet. When Toyota entered the market in America in 1957, this name was not well received due to linkages with toys and pets. The name was dropped for this market, but was continued to be used into the mid-1960s in all other markets.
The Toyota Motor Corporation was formed in 1982 when the Toyota Motor Company merged with Toyota Motor Sales. In response to taxes and tariffs imposed by the American government in the early 1980s, Toyota, as well as other Japanese car manufacturers, began to build manufacturing plants in the U.S. In 1984, Toyota also entered into the New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. joint venture with General Motors. Under this venture they operated a factory in California, which had been an old GM factory. At the end of the 1980s, Toyota launched its luxury brand, Lexus and introduced a new logo for Toyota, which is used today.
The Toyota Motor Corporation owns Toyota and Lexus, as well as Scion, Daihatsu and Hino Motors. Additionally, the Toyota Motor Corporation is involved in several non-automotive companies. It's also a part of the Toyota Group, which is one of the largest conglomerates in the world.
Toyota in America
The headquarters for Toyota North America are located in Torrance, Calif. with its manufacturing headquarters located in Hebron, Ky. There are also six major assembly plants across the U.S. The joint venture with GM ended in 2009, but Toyota is part of another joint venture with Subaru, which started in 2006 in Lafayette, Ind. Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc. is a subsidiary of the Toyota Motor Corporation and takes care of all sales, marketing and distribution of Toyota vehicles in the U.S.
The oil crisis in the early 1970s helped Toyota take off in the American market. Prior to this, American car manufacturers had seen small vehicles as entry-level products only and, as such, had kept prices low by providing low quality. Toyota's small vehicles had higher quality than those offered by their American competitors. As they grew globally and especially in the North American market, Toyota began to offer more and larger vehicles, which included a full-sized pickup, SUVs and the Lexus luxury brand.
In addition to expanding their line of vehicles in the 1990s, Toyota created the Scion brand. This brand was developed for the North American market only. It consists of sporty but affordable vehicles meant to be marketed to younger drivers in the U.S., with Canada to follow later. It also began production of its first hybrid car, the Prius in 1997.
There are at least 70 different models of vehicles sold by Toyota. Toyota makes vehicles in all classes including coupes, sedans, trucks, vans, crossover vehicles and hybrids. Its smallest car is the Yaris, and its largest is the Avalon. It sedans are the Corolla and Camry. The crossover vehicles are the Matrix, RAV4, Venza and Highlander. SUVs include the FJ Cruiser, 4Runner, Sequoia and Land Cruiser. The Tacoma and the Tundra are the compact and full-sized pickup trucks manufactured by Toyota, and the Sienna is the only van available from Toyota. The Camry and Highlander can be purchased as hybrids, as well as the Prius.
Toyota Products and Technologies
Not only is Toyota one of the largest companies to invest in hybrid technology and push hybrid vehicles into the market, it was the very first to mass produce and sell these vehicles in the mainstream market. Initially, only the Prius was offered as a hybrid, but over time, as the technology became more popular, more models came with that option. The goal is to have its entire line available with hybrid technology by 2030.
The first generation of Prius cars, which were compact sedans, went on sale in 1997 in Japan. By 2001, it was available in many other countries, including the U.S. The second generation of the Prius was completely revamped in 2004 as a midsize 5-door liftback. The current generation of the Prius, which has a much more aerodynamic shape, was introduced in 2010. Toyota has also produced a plug-in Prius that will include a lithium-ion battery to give the vehicle an all-electric range.