INTRODUCTION Toyota is one of the world’s best-known and most successful businesses, building cars and trucks in 27 countries for sale in more than 170 markets around the globe. Worldwide production was 9.5 million (8.5 million for Toyota and Lexus brand vehicles) in 2007, placing Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) firmly among the world’s leading vehicle manufacturers. This result keeps it on course to achieve its ambition of becoming the world number one by the end of the decade, with a 15 per cent market share.
Toyota global production in 2006 was more than nine million vehicles. That’s the equivalent of one car coming off the production line every 3.5 seconds, every minute, every hour, every day.
A key element in Toyota’s success is its commitment to designing, engineering and building cars in the world regions where they will be sold. In Europe, this local manufacturing policy was launched in 1989 with the founding of Toyota Motor Manufacturing UK, just ahead of the opening of Toyota’s first European production centres: a car plant at Burnaston, near Derby, and an engine factory at Deeside, in North Wales.
UK production has risen steadily and Toyota has become a key player in the nation’s manufacturing industry. With more than 75 per cent of its UK output destined for export, Toyota also makes a valuable contribution to the national balance of payments. Burnaston is responsible for worldwide production of the Toyota Avensis and has the distinction of being the first Toyota factory to export cars to the company’s “home” market in Japan.
In 2004 Toyota invested a further £50 million to increase production at Burnaston to 285,000 vehicles a year and in 2005 TMUK’s achievements were recognised with the Queen’s Award for International Trade. More investment followed in 2008, with the announcement of £88 million for the launch of production of a new petrol engine at Deeside from 2009.
Britain remains an important and vibrant market for new car sales. Toyota (GB) PLC is the company responsible for sales, marketing, after sales and customer relations, employing more than 400 people at a landmark headquarters building in Surrey. In 2007 it reported its 15th year in a row of record sales, consolidating the UK’s position as one of Toyota’s strongest European markets.
Toyota (GB) PLC headquarters in Epsom, Surrey.
Toyota Motor Corporation includes the Toyota, Lexus and Daihatsu brands, Hino trucks and the youth-focused North American marque Scion.
TOYOTA HISTORY The Toyota success story is built on innovation, both in terms of its products and the processes by which they are made. In 1918, Sakichi Toyoda revolutionised the weaving industry with his invention of an automatic loom. The proceeds from the sale of his patent to a British firm – Platt Brothers of Oldham – provided his son Kichiro with the finances to make a start in the developing car industry. The pioneering work practices that Sakichi had developed for his loom business were easily adapted to the new automotive operation and in 1936 the first prototype car, the Toyoda AA, was completed.
Sakichi Toyoda prepared his car manufacturing business by visiting the USA and observing Ford’s production lines. Back home he adapted that system to suit the smaller number of cars to be built in his own factory.
The following year the Toyota Motor Corporation was formed with an investment of about £300,000. It had a tough time establishing itself, as the Japanese car market was dominated by American imports from Ford and General Motors. World War II also threatened to destroy the enterprise, but Toyota survived and in 1947 celebrated building its 100,000th vehicle.
In the 1950s Toyota laid the foundations for a new system of manufacturing vehicles. This was developed into the Toyota Production System, an exceptionally efficient set of principles that have been widely used and adapted within the motor industry and beyond.