Message

Chairman: Fujio Cho

Chairman of the Board

Fujio Cho

November, 2012

Thanks to many people, Toyota Motor Corporation was able to greet its 75th anniversary this year. Support from our customers around the world, our suppliers, our dealers and our partner companies and the efforts of our employees are a true gift for which I am sincerely grateful.

Our founder, Kiichiro Toyoda, inherited the spirit of being studious and creative from his father Sakichi. At the beginning of the Showa Period (1926-1989), when Japan was poor, wanting to make the country prosperous like the United States and Europe through conscientious manufacturing was a desire common among many that can be said to reflect the spirit of the times. However, the difference between contemplation and implementation is as wide as that between night and day. Those who seriously took up the challenge of entering the automobile industry were extremely few.

At the time, our forebears had neither the basic know-how nor the support of related companies like those today that have outstanding technologies. As such, they took it upon themselves to study every aspect of automobile production and to make each and every part, one by one. In doing so, Kiichiro thoroughly applied the principle of genchi genbutsu (going and seeing for oneself). Seeing the dirty and greasy hands of plant technicians was said to have put Kiichiro in a good mood. Emphasizing that the company's accomplishment was the result of a team struggle, Kiichiro once said: "Automobiles don't just come about as the result of a single engineer's hobby. What we have created was born of painstaking research and knowledge accumulated in various fields by many people, and of efforts and numerous failures spanning long years."

Be that as it may, the actual production site was in a constant state of trial and error. Parts made in the morning were turned into waste by design changes made in the evening. It was under such conditions of workplace distress that the just-in-time production approach of making only what was needed, only when it was needed and only in the amount needed was given its beginnings.

From there, under an aim to produce quality and affordable products, the climate for accumulating daily kaizen (continuous improvements) began to take root at production sites. The philosophy that makes such possible is "Respect for People". Honestly make diligent and steady effort, and cultivate people so that they can think on their own and improve the workplace. That is what is meant when Toyota says: "Making things means making people."

In the mid-1980s, full-scale manufacturing by Toyota began in the United States, and our production bases suddenly began to span the globe. At every stage of Toyota's transformation into a global company, we encountered different senses of value and, at times, found difficulty in keeping our bearing. But we always felt our way through to open the way forward. Good fortune may have played a part, but I believe our success is also due to the fact that Kiichiro's spirit at the time our foundation and the corporate climate built by our predecessors were fundamentals that were globally accepted. Today, Toyota people around the world understand and practice the Toyota Way and are taking on the challenge of engaging in high-quality automobile production every day, a fact that fills me with sincere joy and peace of mind.

Toyota intends to continue endeavoring to contribute to the economic and social prosperity of countries around the world through the manufacturing of good and affordable automobiles. On the occasion of the publication of our 75-year corporate history, to all related parties, I want to thank you again for the past 75 years, and I humbly request your continued support.

President: Akio Toyoda

President, Member of the Board

Akio Toyoda

November, 2012

Our company’s registration of incorporation took place on August 28, 1937. Counting from that year, 75 years have now passed. The Toyota that exists today is a result of the support we have received from not only our customers but all of our stakeholders. I am truly delighted that we are able to produce automobiles all around the world, and I would like to express to everyone my heartfelt gratitude.

For Kiichiro Toyoda, our founder and my grandfather, establishing the company was no more than a first step. His dream was to build a car for the masses and to contribute to overall prosperity. As such, the day mass production of the Toyoda Model AA passenger sedan started was a day of great importance for Kiichiro. That is why we celebrate November 3, the date that our Koromo Plant (now, Honsha Plant) began operations (in 1938), as the anniversary of our foundation.

Today it seems almost impossible to fathom how extraordinary a challenge it was—when industrial development was still very much nascent in Japan in the 1930s—for the hands of Japanese to give rise to an automobile industry. But when trying to imagine the hardships at the time of our foundation, I believe Kiichiro and those who gathered around him—in addition to having a sense of mission to contribute to the good of the nation through domestic vehicle production—were spurred in their efforts to produce automobiles by a genuine and pure desire to make ever-better cars and to see joy on the faces of their customers.

After Kiichiro passed away, this sentiment was carried on. But with early models such as the Crown, Corona and Publica, one cannot say that absolutely everything went well. Lack of knowledge of road conditions outside Japan, unexpected production problems and misreading of customer preferences—the failures and setbacks we experienced were many.

Development workplaces that never compromise in their effort to achieve ever-better cars, production workplaces that thoroughly think through continuous improvements for producing good products at low costs, craftsmen with remarkably superb and refined skills, and sales people who position their bonds with their customers above all else—these are among our assets that have been forged and fostered to become the corporate climate of Toyota. When I was young, there were people who personified these traditions of Toyota in every workplace, and I, as well, underwent considerable training.

On the occasion of our 75th anniversary, I am filled anew with pride in the Toyota culture and climate created by our predecessors, and, at the same time, I feel the weight of my responsibility to pass on such assets to the next generation.

The first vehicle sold by Toyota was the Model G1 truck, which was plagued by continuous breakdowns. Whenever Kiichiro learned that a G1 had broken down, he rushed to the scene, got under the vehicle to determine the problem and apologized to the customer. In this action, which occurred numerous times, we can see the origins at Toyota of “Customer First” and “Quality First”, which continue to this very day. Of equal importance is for us to never forget those customers in our first days who purchased such vehicles and used them while enduring great inconvenience.

Toyota is a company that has been cultivated by its customers. Without forgetting for even one moment the appreciation we have for our customers, we want to continue aiming to make ever-better cars and to see smiles on our customers’ faces. Our pledge to do this serves as my foreword for this publication of the history of Toyota’s first 75 years.