Section 1. Construction of Motomachi Plant and Introduction of TQC
Item 4. Production and Sale of the Corona Model RT40
September 1964 saw the birth of the third-generation Corona (RT40). This vehicle utilized the know-how Toyota had accumulated, and it achieved the high performance and quality levels needed to compete in markets outside Japan.
The engine used was the 2R (1,490 cc, 70 hp), an improved version of the R engine that had established a reputation for durability and ease of use, with the torque curve flattened for usability. The suspension was also redesigned to reduce vibration and noise. Aiming to achieve ride quality, comfort and fittings equal to that of a midsize car, the vehicle width and length was extended by 60 mm, and the width of the interior area by 40 mm compared to the previous model.
Breaking away from the traditional requirement that passenger car dimensions had to be suited to taxi use, during the planning and design phase Toyota focused on creating a car that could be successful as an international product, and developed a car with a dynamic style embodied in the arrow-line1 styling of the body.2
In August 1964, the first mass-production unit of the new Corona rolled off the line at the Motomachi Plant, and sales of the new model were launched simultaneously across Japan. The new Corona proved to be immensely popular, with its greatly anticipated announcement resulting in more than 200,000 people thronging unveilings and test drives throughout the country.
The same year, the Meishin Expressway (linking Nagoya and Osaka) opened, with completion of the country's first proper expressway marking the beginning of the Japan's highway era. Using the occasion, Toyota planned a non-stop 100,000 kilometer drive back and forth along the Meishin Expressway as a promotion for the new Corona. Three Coronas started the journey on September 14, 1964, immediately after the launch announcement for the new model. As the nation followed their progress intently through television and radio broadcasts, the cars reached the 100,000 kilometer goal on the 58th day. The feat quickly led to an image of the new Corona as a high-performance car that paved the way into Japan's highway era.
The new Corona, which had enjoyed steady sales growth following its release in 1964, drew even with the Nissan Bluebird in its first December on the market, selling 8,400 vehicles during the month. Furthermore, monthly sales for January 1965 exceeded the Bluebird-the first Toyota car to achieve this feat since the release of the first-generation Corona (ST10). The new Corona's climb to the top spot in such a short time was in part due to the Corona being fully redesigned. But it was also the result of company-wide Total Quality Control (TQC) initiatives. The progress of the broad schedule from development to production was monitored and refined by a company-wide project team, and each plant held process planning meetings to ensure quality assurance was built into each stage of the production process.
The new Corona was the top selling car for 33 straight months from April 1965 to December 1967, a tribute to its high performance and quality level.
Soon after the release of the new Corona, Managing Director Shoichiro Toyoda (responsible for the Engineering Group) made the following remarks in a Toyota publication:
From the so-called 'Daruma' (or "rounded") Corona model of more than four years ago assembled at Kanto Auto Works evolved the sleek new Corona produced at the Motomachi Plant you see on the streets today. It (the second-generation made at the Motomachi Plant) was our first full redesign of the Corona, and I am sure many of our employees remember the struggles we went through during the start-up. Following that, we gained experience from the release of the Publica and the redesign of the Crown, and today it brings me true joy to see the new (third generation) Corona rolling smoothly off the line under a new mass production system. I am particularly pleased to see the quality control system-which we have built up with each redesign in order to prevent recurrence of problems-working increasingly smoothly with each production start-up. ...
As you can see, the new Corona has a bold, sleek exterior. This style is our own, original design, created by our Design Section without copying other models, and I believe it will spark a new trend. In terms of performance, the weight has been brought in line with international standards, and we have achieved acceleration, high-speed performance, and fuel efficiency far ahead of rival vehicles. Furthermore, it is more durable than the previous Corona. We have also produced a special simpler version for business use.
Passenger car sales in Japan are increasing by the year. Household car ownership, in particular, will likely increase even more in future. At the same time, I believe competition in the domestic car market will become increasingly fierce with the introduction of free trade from the start of next year. It is fitting that the new Corona was born at this time. The fact that we separated the new Corona from the Crown, designed it independently and created the manufacturing process shows that the company saw the future potential of the Corona and made an all-out effort to make it a reality. I believe how well the Corona sells holds the key for the future of Toyota and by extension the development of the Japanese automotive industry. Let us all-design, manufacturing and sales-come together as one and pour all our efforts into the growth of the Corona.
(From Birth of the New Corona, an article in Gijutsu no Tomo (literally, "Friends of Technology"), Volume 16, Issue No. 2, Toyota Engineering Society, November 1964)