Section 1. Development of Diverse Vehicle Lineup and Expansion of Domestic Sales
Item 1. Maturation and Diversification of Market
Expansion into diverse vehicle models
In February 1981, Toyota released the Soarer, a luxury specialty car showcasing the leading technology available at the time. During development, Toyota focused on developing a high-performance, fuel-efficient engine and an aerodynamic design, and fitting the vehicle with the latest electronic technology. Of particular note was the 5M-GEU engine (2,759 cc, 170 hp) which showcased the results of the company's many years of research into twin-cam engines. Furthermore, the Soarer also boasted several revolutionary new devices, including Japan's first electronic gauges, which did away with the traditional needle-based dashboard display, and microcomputer-controlled automatic air conditioning. The Soarer won acclaim for its high level of perfection, and was named the 1981-1982 Japan Car of the Year. Also, in July 1981, the Celica and Celica XX models were fully redesigned.
In 1982, the year in which Toyota Motor Co., Ltd. and Toyota Motor Sales Co., Ltd. merged to form the new Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC), Toyota launched an offensive with a range of new models, releasing the Vista and Camry front-wheel-drive sedans in March, and the four-wheel-drive Sprinter Carib in the recreational vehicle segment (in Japan, a category of passenger-car-size vehicles, different from camping vehicles, aimed at consumers who like outdoor leisure activities). In addition, Toyota fully redesigned its first front-wheel-drive passenger cars, the Tercel and Corsa, which it had originally released in 1978, and added the Corolla II to its lineup.
The company continued to release attractive models, and Toyota's car designs moved to speedily address the diversifying needs and individuality of its customers. In 1983 the company produced a front-wheel-drive version of its Sprinter and Corolla sedan models, of which one variation featured the newly developed 3A-LU engine (1,452 cc, 83 hp), which delivered top-of-the-class fuel efficiency. The 3A-LU was a lean-burn engine achieved by employing a helical port fitted with a swirl control valve.1 This technology, which realized the dual goals of high output and high fuel efficiency and contributed greatly to the popularity of the front-wheel-drive Corolla, was subsequently awarded the 1987 Imperial Invention Prize by the Japan Institution of Invention and Innovation.
In 1984 Toyota released the MR2, a sports car with a rear mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout that was named the 1984-1985 Japan Car of the Year. The same year also saw the release of the fifth-generation Mark II, dubbed the "White Mark II", which sparked a trend toward "high society" or luxury cars. The following year in 1985, Toyota released the four-door hardtop Carina ED, which would grow to become one of the company's long-seller models. Furthermore, Crown models were equipped with supercharger-fitted twin-cam engines, while Mark II and Chaser models featured twin-turbo fitted twin-cam engines.
The expansion in domestic sales was also influenced by measures such as the revision in profit margins which accompanied the 1982 merger and revitalized dealerships. As a result, in 1983 Toyota secured a share of more than 40 percent of all vehicles registered in Japan for the first time in nine years. In 1984 and 1985 the company achieved its highest sales ever, establishing a position as the undisputed leader among Japanese automakers.