Section 1. The Japanese Automotive Market
Item 4. Building a Chukyo Detroit-Development of the Atsuta Passenger Car
In May 1930 the Domestic Production Promotion Committee, an advisory body to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, presented a plan for establishing a domestic automotive industry. It was precisely this time that Kiichiro Toyoda was thinking of diversifying the Toyoda business and considering entering the spinning machine and automobile manufacturing businesses.
With the move towards domestic automotive production gathering momentum, Nagoya City Mayor Isao Oiwa advocated building an automotive industry in the Chukyo region of central Japan. This plan, which was also known as the Chukyo Detroit Project, aimed to utilize the machine industry in the Chukyo region to develop an automotive industry (thereby turning Chukyo into "another Detroit"). The region was looking to develop an industry to replace the textile and ceramics industries prevalent in the area, a view that was also shared by Kiichiro Toyoda, who, considering the future of the textile industry, was thinking of a foray into the automotive industry.
Several machine companies based in Nagoya City participated in the Chuyko Detroit Project following introduction from Mayor Oiwa, and the project was led by Kamataro Aoki, the president of Aichi Tokei Denki Co., Ltd. Development of a prototype passenger car modeled on the U.S. Nash vehicle commenced in the summer of 1930, with participant companies taking responsibility for different areas of development. Okuma Iron Works Co., Ltd. developed the engine and transmission devices, Nippon Sharyo, Ltd. created the frame and body, Okamoto Bicycle Works provided the wheels and braking system, while Toyoda Loom Company was responsible for the cast parts. Two prototype vehicles were completed in March 1932.
Named the Atsuta, the vehicle was fitted with a large water-cooled eight-cylinder, 3.94 liter 85 hp engine. The reason a large passenger car was produced was "to build a quality luxury car to distance domestic vehicles from the threat of mass-produced U.S. models".1