Can you guess the industry that Toyota started out in? Or where the name evolved from, or where the brand originated? I started thinking about all of these questions awhile back, and decided to write a post on my findings! An unusual beginning Toyota the automobile company actually evolved from Toyoda Automatic Loom Works, which was named after the Japanese founder Kiichiro Toyoda. So, as you may have guessed from the name, Toyota actually started our as a textile business! Believe it or not, the company still makes automatic looms and sewing machines that are sold all around the world. But they’ve also become even more famous for their automobiles. They produce some of the most common cars in America, such as the Toyota Camry and Corolla. War sparks innovation A war with China was actually the motivator for the Toyoda family to move from textile production into automobile production. The Japanese government relied on China for vehicles, but the war created need for vehicles created in their own country. Hence, Toyoda Automatic Loom Works tried a hand at automobile production in 1934. And we’re sure glad they did! Branching out In 1937, Toyota Motor Company became an official corporation, separate from Toyoda Automatic Loom Works. The name changed from being spelled with a “d” to a “t” to reflect a similar Chinese word that had 8 strokes in one of the characters — a lucky number in East Asian culture. Though the first car was the Toyota Model AA (shown above), Toyota focused on building trucks for soldiers through World War II. Because this was their main area of business, the company nearly went bankrupt after the war, in the 50s. But Toyota made a comeback in 1957 with the Toyota Crown, the first Japanese car to be exported to the U.S. and Brazil (shown above). Side note: I love the look of this car and wouldn’t mind driving one myself! Don’t you think it’s cute/cool? Sadly, the car is only sold in Japanese markets now and has a different look! A worldwide brand Heading into the 60s, Toyota went full-speed ahead by expanding around the world in places like Thailand and Australia. In fact, Australia became its biggest market until 1965! Annual sales exceeded over 5 million units in 2013, and now Toyota is a massive worldwide brand that has brought us iconic vehicles and cutting-edge technology. There have been more than 3 million Prius sales worldwide and 40 million Corolla sales worldwide. 40 million! Can you believe that? It’s certainly one of the most popular cars in America, and it’s reliability and endurance prove why. Thanks to Toyota for all you have shared with the world!