Section 1. Construction of Motomachi Plant and Introduction of TQC
Item 2. Production and Sale of the Corona Model PT20
The first prototype (30A) of the second-generation Corona was completed in February 1959. Production of the new model was initially scheduled to begin with the completion of the Motomachi Plant in August that year. However, development was behind schedule, so efforts switched to development of a second prototype, the 55A. In September 1959, although the name "Model PT20" was officially assigned to the second prototype, the vehicle still required fine-tuning through test driving. However, pressure from competing vehicles meant that Toyota could afford no further delay, so a launch date for the Model PT20 second-generation Corona was set for April 1960. Although production preparation had progressed over the last three years in tandem with development of the new Corona, the development delays had caused problems in preparing the stamping molds and the body welding line, meaning that unresolved production issues, as well, contributed to problems in terms of body strength.
In March 1960, Toyota announced the arrival of the much internally and publically awaited Toyopet Corona Model PT20. As its campaign slogan of "The only thing that isn't new is four wheels" alluded, the new small passenger car was a completely new design, although it did share the same drive system and parts of the chassis with the Crown.1
Then on April 6, Toyota held an official launch at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium in Sendagaya. Owing to the success of Japan's first-ever teaser campaign2 almost 40,000 people crammed the venue, jostling with each other to catch a glimpse of the seven new Coronas on display on the 5,000 square meter floor area.
The new Corona was positioned as family car a class above the corresponding Volkswagen model and not far beneath the competing Hillman model.
The vehicle was promoted as having a "low, spacious and sleek" body, and its overall look was designed to express a sense of linear speed. Its unique design also included tilted center pillars to facilitate getting in and out of the vehicle. It won high praise from numerous quarters, including from the famous Italian car designer Pinin Farina, who was visiting Japan at the time.3 In terms of the vehicle's mechanics, it adopted numerous innovations that had been hitherto unseen in Japanese-made vehicles.
However, not long after the new Corona's launch problems arose in the production line and some drivers complained about the vehicle's performance, both of which negatively impacted production and sales of the vehicle. The problems can be traced back to the first-generation Corona having not been well received because it was developed based on parts designed for other existing vehicle series. That meant there was an urgent need to come up with new parts, resulting in development of the new Corona taking longer than planned. As such, production was rushed to make up for lost time, even though there was an awareness of the risks of doing so. The specific problems were as follows:
- 1.There was a rush to come up with innovations that were ideal in theory, but that had not been adequately tested on actual vehicles;
- 2.During production preparation, inadequate preparations had been made in terms of important stamping molds and in the body assembly line;
- 3.During actual production, although the Motomachi Plant boasted leading-edge equipment and facilities, an adequate management structure to make full use of the technology was not in place.
However, Toyota managed to learn from these mistakes and ensure that the same issues did not arise during the development of the third-generation Corona.4 In the meantime, the company implemented measures to improve the Model PT20. Adopted were the specifications of the Toyopet Tiara (Model RT20L), which had been manufactured for export to the U.S. market featuring the R engine (1,453 cc, 60 hp) instead of the P engine (997 cc, 45 hp) used in the Corona PT20. The improved vehicle was launched in March 1961 as the Toyopet Corona 1500 (Model RT20-B). Not long after this model was put on the market, production of the Model PT20 was discontinued. Next, in October later that year, the Toyopet Corona 1500 Deluxe (Model RT20-D) was launched in response to requests from family car buyers.
Then in March 1962, a more-reliable leaf spring was employed in the hitherto problematic rear suspension, and the vehicle body was also strengthened. These measures resulted in increased customer satisfaction with the Corona, and in December 1963, monthly sales finally topped the keenly anticipated 5,000-unit mark.5
Also, the Tiara Model RT30L, fitted with a 3R engine (1,897 cc, 90 hp) developed for the U.S. market was launched in March 1964 and became popular among consumers in the United States.