Toyota was the largest car manufacturer in the world for some years in a row and this position was held also thanks to its US sales. The American market was a bet started 60 years ago, when oyota launched its North American headquarters in a Hollywood, Calif., dealership on October 31, 1957.
A Japanese car company making a foray into the U.S. market was a bold move 60 years ago. And its first vehicle, the Toyopet Crown, didn’t turn out to be a screaming success either.
But since those humble beginnings in a 3,000-square-foot, one-time Rambler dealership, Toyota has woven itself into the cultural fabric of America.
Sixty years in, it encompasses a presence in every state, including 10 manufacturing facilities (14 in North America), nearly 1,500 Toyota and Lexus dealerships and 136,000 direct, dealer and supplier U.S. employees. And, the company recently unified operations by bringing together its quality engineering, sales, marketing, financial services and corporate functions in one location at a new North America headquarters campus in Plano, Texas.
To commemorate its 60th anniversary, Toyota rededicated a 50th anniversary time capsule originally dedicated at its former Torrance headquarters in 2007. The capsule—which includes items like a 2000GT die cast matchbox edition model car, an original key for a 1977 Toyota Hilux truck and a Toyota Formula One racer scale model—will be re-opened on the 100th anniversary in 2057. Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere, who attended the ceremony, said the capsule marks a new chapter for Toyota.
Toyota’s American journey has been fueled by the cars it makes. In the 1950s that meant the Toyopet Crown and the now-legendary Land Cruiser. Introduced in the ‘60s, the Corolla would go on to become the bestselling nameplate in the world.
The ’70s got sporty with the Celica and the beloved Supra, while the ’80s introduced the American public to Camry and 4Runner, among others.
In 1989, Toyota launched its luxury vehicle division, Lexus, in the U.S. with two models, the LS 400 and ES 250.
And, Toyota changed the world by pushing hybrid technology into the American mainstream with the Prius, which surfaced in 1997 and launched in the U.S. in 2000. More than a decade later, the iconic Prius was followed by another alternative fuel vehicle, the hydrogen fuel cell powered Mirai.