Section 5. Expansion of Sales Systems in Japan and Development of Markets in Other Countries
Item 5. Exports to the United States
The challenging circumstances at the time of the establishment of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. (TMS) are explained in Part 1 Chapter 2.
Under those circumstances, large-scale exports to the United States of the model RT43L Corona began in 1966. Toyota conducted careful and repeated investigations of the engine and pricing for the introduction of the Corona to the U.S. market. In consideration of continuous high-speed driving, a 1,900 cc engine with power to spare was selected, and the first U.S.-import vehicle equipped with an automatic transmission was offered. Concerning the price, the Corona included ample equipment and was priced at 1,860 U.S. dollars, roughly midway between American cars (which cost 2,000 U.S. dollars or more) and European cars (which were priced at about 1,600 U.S. dollars).
At that time, second cars were becoming more common in America, and the RT43L Corona was well-received as such a purchase. With the introduction of the Corona, exports to the United States rose sharply from approximately 4,000 units in 1964 to 26,000 units in 1967. At the same time, exports shifted from only Land Cruisers to mainly passenger cars. In this way, passenger car exports to the United States increased rapidly, and the United States became Toyota's largest export destination in 1966.
What caused exports to the United States to truly bear fruit on the foundations created by the Corona was the Corolla, exports of which began in 1968. As a result, Toyota exports to the United States jumped from 98,000 units in 1968 to 155,000 units in 1969 and Toyota became the second-largest import-car brand in the United States that year. Exports to the United States continued to grow, reaching 216,000 units in 1970 and 404,000 units in 1971.
One factor that supported exports to the United States was the development and expansion of the sales network. When the Corona was introduced to the U.S. market, the Land Cruiser sales network emphasized rural and mountainous areas, and as a result, it was necessary to begin making the transition to a passenger car sales network centered in urban areas. Initially, TMS had to begin with parallel sales of Toyota vehicles by dealers that handled other brands too, but as the strong performance of the Corona became known, exclusive dealerships increased.
In February 1967, TMS constructed a headquarters building in Torrance, south of Los Angeles, solidifying its base of operations for the U.S. market. The number of dealers also grew from 334 in 1965 to 719 in 1967 and 951 in 1973.
In this way, Japanese automobiles were vigorously exported to overseas markets in the late 1960s and they became a common sight in countries around the world. Toyota too increased export volumes, particularly of passenger cars such as the Corolla, Celica, and Corona as well as commercial vehicles such as the Hilux, mainly through the overseas bases that it steadily established. The export volume surpassed 100,000 units in 1966 and grew steadily to 280,000 units in 1968 and 480,000 units in 1970. In a divergence from the past, exports to motorized countries such as the United States and European countries grew, accounting for the bulk of Toyota's exports.
To expand export launching points, the Nagoya Toyota Wharf (now the Meiko Center) was constructed in Chita-gun, Aichi Prefecture in July 1967. Also, the Toyota Maru No. 1 car carrier was put into service in November 1968 to supplement the charter ships that had been used until then. Export structures using special-purpose ships were further developed in conjunction with rising export volumes.