Toyota Motor Corporation is a multinational corporation headquartered in Japan, and is currently the world's largest automaker. According to the 2008 Fortune Global 500, toyota is the fifth largest company in the world by revenue.
In 1934, while still a department of Toyota Industries, it created its first product Type A engine and in 1936 its first passenger car the Toyota AA. The company was eventually founded by Kiichiro Toyoda in 1937 as a spinoff from his father's company Toyota Industries to create automobiles. Toyota currently owns and operates Lexus and Scion brands and has a majority shareholding stake in Daihatsu Motors, and minority shareholdings in Fuji Heavy Industries, Isuzu Motors, and Yamaha Motors. The company includes 522 subsidiaries.
Toyota is headquartered in Aichi, Nagoya and in Tokyo. In addition to manufacturing automobiles, Toyota provides financial services through its division Toyota Financial Services and also creates robots. Toyota Industries and Finance divisions form the bulk of the Toyota Group, one of the largest conglomerates in the world.
In 1933, Toyoda Automatic Loom Works created a new division devoted to the production of automobiles under the direction of the founder's son, Kiichiro Toyoda. Kiichiro Toyoda had traveled to Europe and the United States in 1929 to investigate automobile production and had begun researching gasoline-powered engines in 1930. Toyoda Automatic Loom Works was encouraged to develop automobile production by the Japanese government, which needed domestic vehicle production partly due to the worldwide money shortage and partly due to the war with China. In 1934, the division produced its first Type A Engine, which was used in the first Model A1 passenger car in May 1935 and the G1 truck in August 1935. Production of the Model AA passenger car started in 1936. Early vehicles bear a striking resemblance to the Dodge Power Wagon and Chevrolet, with some parts actually interchanging with their American originals.
Although the Toyota Group is best known today for its cars, it is still in the textile business and still makes automatic looms, which are now computerized, and electric sewing machines which are available worldwide.
During the Pacific War (World War II) the company was dedicated to truck production for the Imperial Japanese Army. Because of severe shortages in Japan, military trucks were kept as simple as possible. For example, the trucks had only one headlight on the center of the hood. The war ended shortly before a scheduled Allied bombing run on the Toyota factories in Aichi.
After the war, commercial passenger car production started in 1947 with the model SA. In 1950, a separate sales company, Toyota Motor Sales Co., was established (which lasted until July 1982). In April 1956, the Toyopet dealer chain was established. The following year, the Crown became the first Japanese car to be exported to the United States and Toyota's American and Brazilian divisions, Toyota Motor Sales Inc. and Toyota do Brasil S.A., were also established.
Toyota began to expand in the 1960s with a new research and development facility, a presence in Thailand was established, the 10 millionth model was produced, a Deming Prize and partnerships with Hino Motors and Daihatsu were also established. The first Toyota built outside Japan was in April 1963, at Port Melbourne in Australia. By the end of the decade, Toyota had established a worldwide presence, as the company had exported its one-millionth unit.
With high gas prices and a weak US economy in the summer of 2008, Toyota reported a double-digit decline in sales for the month of June, similar to figures reported by the Detroit Big Three. For Toyota, these were attributed mainly to slow sales of its Tundra pickup, as well as shortages of its fuel-efficient vehicles such as the Prius, Corolla and Yaris. In response, the company has announced plans to idle its truck plants, while shifting production at other facilities to manufacture in-demand vehicles.