Toyota - a Brief History

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Toyota and Why It Is So Successful

The History of Toyota
For organizational convenience I will discuss Toyota history as follows: • The start
• The 1940s
• The 1950s
• Etc.
The start. The Toyota Motor Corp. (TMC) had its beginning in 1933 when it was established as a division within the Toyoda Automatic Loom Works, Ltd. The founder of Toyota was Kiichiro Toyoda (1894–1952), the son of Sakichi Toyoda (1867–1930). The values that have underpinned Toyota success startedwith Sakichi who was the son of a carpenter. Sakichi went from carpentry, which he had learned from his father, to making looms for weaving. He then came up with many inventionsthat resulted in remarkable improvements in looms. For example, by 1924 he had developed the famous “Type G” automatic loom, but not without much of that “hard work and persistence.” One of the important features of Toyoda’s looms was a device that would automatically stop the loom should a thread break. This prevented any defective cloth from being produced. This concept of building into a machine features that prevent poor quality is know as jidoka and would become one of the TMC’s two “pillars” of the Toyota Production System (TPS)

According to Wikipedia (Sakichi Toyoda, 2006) Sakichi is often referred to as the “King of Japanese Inventors” and as the “father of the Japanese industrial revolution.”

Toyota Motor Corporation the name was changed from Toyoda to Toyota for three reasons: (1) to differentiate the founders’ work from his personal life, (2) ease of pronunciation
(3) to give the company a happy beginning as “Toyota” has eight strokes in katakana and eight is considered a lucky number in Japan.

In 1926 Sakichi started the Toyoda Automatic Loom Works that, due to the superiority of the Toyoda looms, became highly successful. Even today, Toyota produces highly praised spinning and weaving machines. However, to Sakichi’s credit he recognized that more than weaving machines, the automobile was the wave of the future. Therefore he encouraged his son, Kiichiro to get into the automobile business. Drawing on the resources of the Toyoda loom business, in 1930, Kiichiro began doing research into small gasoline-powered engines and, as mentioned, an automobile division was established within the Toyoda loom works in 1933.

But it wasn’t just to increase the Toyoda fortunes that caused the elder Toyoda to encourage his son. As quoted this is what Sakichi told Kiichiro: “Everyone should tackle some great project at least once in their life. I devoted most of my life to inventing new kinds of looms. Now it is your turn.You should make an effort to complete something that will benefit society.”

Which exemplifies another part of the Toyota philosophy that a company should always do what it can to better society. There was a lot of hard learning for Toyota in those early years: Toyota Motor Corporation struggled through the 1930s, primarily making simple trucks. In the early years, the company produced poor-quality vehicles with primitive technology and had little success. But, with persistence in 1935 Toyota came out with its first prototype car, the A1.

Early units broke down a lot, so customers were carefully chosen for loyalty. Aftermarket sale support was so strong that entire trucks were often replaced without question. Development and production engineers were loaned to dealers so that repairs could be done and so that the engineers could learn about what needed to be changed in production. And, in 1936 Toyota came out with its first production car, the Model AA Sedan.

In 1937 the Toyota Motor Co (TMC) was established as an independent company.

One year later the first TMC plant started operations and the just-in-time system was launched on a full-scale basis This plant (Honsha), near Toyota’s head office in Aichi Prefecture (near Nagoya), is still operating making Land Cruisers.

The 1940s. This was a time of dramatic change for Toyota. It was...
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