Increase in the number of passenger cars utilizing truck chassis

With many companies entering the truck body mounting business, competition became stiff. During the four years between 1949 and 1952, the number of bodies that Toyota Shatai mounted accounted for only 36 percent of the truck chassis rolling off the production line at Toyota Motor Co., Ltd.1 The average number of bodies mounted per month on compact vehicles (including passenger cars) by the three companies (Arakawa Sheet Metal Works, Kanto Electric Motor Works, and Central Motor Co., Ltd.) was only 63. Combining this number with the 108 bodies mounted by Toyota Shatai resulted in 171, which was only 43 percent of the average monthly production volume of 354 truck chassis. In other words, more than half of the chassis were being fitted with bodies by local manufacturers via dealers. Toyota Motor Co., Ltd. itself did not have a clear grasp of which companies were mounting bodies on the majority of the chassis it produced.

Toyota Technology, a monthly newsletter issued by Toyota Engineering Society, made the following reference to the situation in the automobile industry at that time:

However, the market situation was not going in the direction we had expected. Due to the need for the most simple passenger cars, many users were beginning to mount passenger car bodies on the SB chassis. This was totally unexpected to designers, who were completely surprised by the emergence of these improvised passenger cars in Japan, which had just lost a war.2

This article shows that Toyota as a chassis maker could not hide its bewilderment as demand for mounting passenger car bodies on truck chassis, a totally unexpected idea, took off in post-war Japan, where the economy was struggling and people's daily lives were difficult.

Table 1-23 compares the number of passenger car chassis produced by Toyota Motor Co., Ltd. and the number of passenger cars sold by Toyota Motor Sales Co., Ltd. The number of passenger cars sold remained larger than that of passenger car chassis produced through 1952, as a result of the number of truck chassis being fitted with passenger car bodies and sold as passenger cars, as indicated in the quote above.

Table 1-23. Passenger Car Chassis Production Volumes and Passenger Car Sales Volumes (1950 - 1955)

Passenger Car chassis Production Volume (a)
Passenger Car Sales Volume (b)

In October 1951, the Model SF passenger car, which shared a chassis with the Model SG truck, was launched. At that time, Toyota Motor Co., Ltd. selected the following three companies to mount its passenger car bodies: Arakawa Sheet Metal Works (Model SF), Kanto Auto Works, Ltd. (Model SFK), and Central Japan Heavy-Industries, Ltd.'s Nagoya Works (Model SFN). Although the Model SG truck was launched in March 1952, mounting of passenger car bodies on this model was terminated as a rule. As a result, some of the passenger car body mounters were forced to terminate their operations and, as described previously, Nippon Body was dissolved in 1953. The vehicle models shown inside parentheses are model names set up to identify mounting manufacturers.

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