Section 1. The Inventions and Ideas of Sakichi Toyoda

Item 6. Support for Development and Invention of Electricity Storage Devices

Interest in power itself

As exhibited in his invention of the circular single flow motor, Sakichi Toyoda was also deeply interested in power itself. Although Japan's first power loom, the Toyoda Power Loom used the written Japanese character for steam in its name, its power was provided not only by steam, but also by an oil motor. According to the instruction manual, one horsepower of output was sufficient to drive 20 looms.

Looking at the power usage at the plants operated by Sakichi1, the Toyoda No.1 Plant (Toyoda Shokai Office Buhei-cho Plant) in 1904 ran on one 3.5 hp oil motor, Toyoda Loom Company (formerly Toyoda Shokai Office Shimasaki-cho Plant) in 1909 ran on one 24 hp gas motor and one 3 hp oil motor, and in 1916 Toyoda Automatic Spinning and Weaving Plant (precursor to Toyoda Boshoku Corporation Honsha Plant) operated on one 400 hp steam engine (300 kW) and 720 kW of commercial electricity.

For power generation at the Toyoda Jido Boshoku Plant, 400-hp uniflow steam engines manufactured by Switzerland’s Sulzer were installed in 1914. At that time, the installation of steam engines for generating electricity was unusual in the Nagoya area, and Sakichi’s Toyoda Jido Boshoku Plant and his younger brother Heikichi’s Toyoda Shokufu Oshikiri Plant were about the only examples. When the plant was expanded in 1916, it began to receive a 720 kW electric supply from Nagoya Electric Light.

In the 1910s, plants across Japan were in the process of switching their power sources from steam engines and gas motors to electricity. The percentage of power generation from electricity by Japanese weaving and dyeing plants rose from 8.9 percent in 1909 (13.3 percent for all types of plants) to 22.4 percent in 1914 (30.1 percent), and continued to increase rapidly in the following years.2

From the autumn of 1922 to the spring of 1923, Heikichi traveled to Europe and the United States to observe overseas techniques, and purchased a German-made electric vehicle.3 The vehicle was powered by private generators, and was also used by Kiichiro on occasions. However, battery capability at the time meant that driving time was limited even when the vehicle was charged overnight, taking longer to charge than to deplete.

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