released on September 2007
Founder of Toyota Motor Corporation
Using the business of his father Sakichi Toyoda as a springboard into the automotive industry, Kiichiro Toyoda laid the foundations for what is now known as Toyota Motor Corporation more than 70 years ago.
In 1910, Sakichi, who is known for his automatic loom inventions, departed on a tour of European and US textile mills. While there, he saw just how much Americans had embraced motorization. He had always believed all people have their own callings in life; and, upon recognizing great potential in the automotive industry, he strongly urged Kiichiro to follow this new path.
Kiichiro joined his father's company in 1920, and the next year he also visited the West. There, he saw for himself the growing popularity of cars, and his father's earlier words came to him: "You should make cars." Kiichiro returned to Japan with the dream of entering the industry.
In 1929, Sakichi transferred the G-type automatic loom patent to the British company Platt Brothers & Co., offering Kiichiro the 100,000-pound revenue to fund his automobile research. Sakichi passed away soon after, but not before encouraging Kiichiro to follow his dreams.
Through trial and error, Kiichiro and his team completed a small prototype gasoline engine in 1931, achieving a milestone in Toyota's history. Not all challenges were technical, however — Kiichiro encountered some opposition, not the least of which was when he revealed his business plans to President Risaburo Toyoda in 1933.
Risaburo, initially cautious about entering the automotive industry, wanted to minimize risk and advocated small-scale production of small cars. However, Kiichiro had his sights on bigger goals: a 3,000-cc mass-produced "people's car." Swayed by Kiichiro's conviction, Risaburo eventually supported the plan, and the company took its first real step into the automotive business.
Kiichiro devoted himself to this new venture, studying and disassembling an American car and acquiring land for a factory. Again, through trial and error, he and his team completed the Model G1 truck (1935) and the Model AA (1936).
In 1937, Toyota Motor Co., Ltd. was established, and the Koromo Plant — Japan's first full-fledged auto manufacturing plant — was completed the following year. On November 3rd at the plant's inauguration ceremony, Kiichiro himself pushed the start switch, marking the realization of his dream and the dawning of a new era for the company. This date has since been celebrated as Toyota Motor Corporation's founding anniversary.
At that momentous ceremony, Kiichiro said, "Each person fulfilling his or her duties to the utmost can generate great power when gathered together, and a chain of such power can generate a ring of power." With these words, he expressed the core philosophy upon which the Toyota Way, including the just-in-time system, would be born.
Plans for the construction of the plant in Koromo City, now the city of Toyota
Executives at the inauguration of the Koromo Plant on November 3rd, 1938
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