By Theresa "Sam" Houghton
Do you tow tons of stuff with a Tacoma or pipe dream about owning a brand-new Prius? It’s not surprising if you or someone you know is behind the wheel of one of these or another Toyota model. Since its inception, the company has grown to become a household name and continues to innovate its way into the hearts (and garages) of drivers around the world.
It’s time to test your knowledge of this popular brand! Are you familiar with these five Toyota facts?
1) It All Started with Looms, Not Cars
What would eventually become the Toyota Motor Company didn’t appear until 1933. What was the founder, Sakichi Toyoda, doing before then? Running the Toyoda Automatic Loom Company! He eventually licensed his loom design and used the money to get started with cars. In 1936, Toyota vehicles made their debut with the Model AA sedan.
2) WWII Was a Time of Trucks
Toyota didn’t spend too much time making cars before the second World War started, during which the company’s focus shifted to trucks. Using military specifications, Toyota cranked out trucks for the Imperial Japanese Army. Thanks to Sakichi Toyoda’s son, Kiichiro, using Chevys as models, many of the parts in the trucks could be replaced with Chevy parts if needed.
3) The First U.S. Headquarters was in Hollywood
Toyota set up shop in the United States in October of 1957, establishing a presence in none other than Hollywood, California. In a striking contrast to today’s sales numbers, which reach into the millions, the company only sold 288 vehicles when it began marketing to American drivers in 1958.Most sales were of the Toyopet Crown Sedan, but a single Land Cruisier also made its way off the showroom floor. Neither car was particularly well-received at first, and this prompted Toyota to pursue other designs, which led to the creation of the Avalon and Camry.
4) The Brand Normalized Hybrids
Pretty much everyone remembers the hype over the first Prius hybrid, which hit the road in 1997. Since its unveiling, over 30 more hybrid models from numerous manufacturers have appeared, and the number of hybrid vehicles zipping around roads and highways topped 10 million in 2017. Above them all, Prius remains the best-selling hybrid worldwide.
5) Motorsports Drive its Success
Toyota’s Motorsport division does more than make fast cars. The company got involved in 1957 as the first Japanese manufacturer to participate in motorsports and has remained active ever since in an effort to improve skills and gain insights into how to make better products.
Now that your head is full of interesting Toyota trivia, you can impress you friends, stump other Toyota fans and maybe beat a few people at Jeopardy. For even more fun history, check out the official timeline on Toyota’s website.
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About the Author Theresa “Sam” Houghton is a writer, speaker and health coach from Troy, NY. She’s a regular contributor to NutritionStudies.org, and her work has appeared in the Honest Weight Food Co-Op Coop Scoop, Natural Awakenings Magazine and the NutritionFacts.org 2017 Daily Dozen calendar. She has been a featured guest on Focus on Albany, WMAC’s Food Friday and the Just Ask David podcast. When she's not writing or cooking, Sam likes to read and study the Bible, cook tasty plant-based food and knit socks.You can find out more about Sam at GreenGutWellness.com.