Here at Xcite Car Leasing we know a lot about the modern Toyota models  but we didn’t really know a lot about this Japanese automotive powerhouse’s history and how it became the well-known brand it is today. Which is why we’ve done some research and we wanted to share what we learnt about them.

History of Toyota

Toyoda Looms

Toyota began life in a completely different industry – in the 1890s Sakichi Toyoda began designing and developing looms and he went on to produce the world’s first automatic loom which revolutionised the industry. This loom helped reduce the number of defects and increased yields as it automatically stopped when a flaw was detected and alerted the operator that there was an issue. This stop and alert principle is used to this day in Toyota factories.  

In order to produce and sell his automatic loom Sakichi Toyoda formed the Toyoda Automatic Loom Works, LTD which then became Toyota Industries Corporation in 1926.

The First Toyota Car

In 1933 Sakichi sold his automatic loom patents to the British firm Platt Brothers of Oldham in order to raise money to help launch his son’s dream – an automobile.

Kiichiro Toyoda saw a great future in the automobile industry and was inspired by his visits to modern motor factories in America.

For three years the funds were used to research and develop prototypes until the AA saloon  was ready for the market.

Toyota Becomes Its Own Company

In 1937 the automobile department separated from the Toyota Industries Corporation and was established as its own company Toyota Motor Co, LTD (now Toyota Motor Corporation).

From there the company continued to grow and production of vehicles expanded within Japan and then overseas as well. In 1959 they opened the first international plant in Brazil and today they have factories, subsidiaries and dealerships around the world.


In 1967 they expanded into pickup trucks with the Publica model as well as introducing best selling models like the Corolla, RAV4, and the Prius.

It wasn’t just the automotive side of Toyota that grew, the rest of the Toyota Group also continued to produce looms, industrial vehicles like forklift trucks and manufacturing and investing in the development of diesel and petrol engines. In the mid 80’s they were producing so many different engine types that they ended up separating into their own division.

In 1990 Toyota was awarded the PM (plant maintenance) award which is an award given to companies that strengthen the improvement of an area and contribute to development within the industry by promoting the modernisation of plant maintenance and development of technologies to support this. The award recognised the technological developments that the Toyota Motor Corporation produced and utilised to ensure a safe and efficient working environment that allowed them to make vehicles with minimum defects.

Toyota and Lexus

Many people recognise Lexus as an expensive luxury car brand that produces high-quality high-performance vehicles. But what a lot of people don’t know is that Lexus is a subsidiary of Toyota.

Toyota spent hundreds of hours developing their all-new luxury vehicle to battle the established likes of Audi and Porsche, and was aimed at exports in particular to the US market. The idea for Lexus was born from a need to fill a gap in the Toyota catalogue when the baby boomer generation who had been loyally driving Toyotas through their teens and early 20s but were looking for something a little more luxurious as they became wealthier.

In 1983 Toyota launched a secret project that was internally known as Circle F (with the F standing for flagship model). Ichiro Suzuki had been an engineer at Toyota for 25 years and became the chief engineer for the project.  Over the course of the project over 400 prototypes were created, and they worked with numerous focus groups to fine-tune the vehicle. Within six years the Lexus LS 400 would be created and with it the Lexus brand was established as a premium car manufacturer.

The vehicle had been manufactured for longevity, with high quality materials, comfort finishes and over 1,600 different quality control checks performed during its manufacture.

Since then, Lexus has gone on to become a brand known worldwide for its luxury cars.

Evolution of Toyota Cars:

The Model AA Saloon

The AA saloon was the first car that Toyota produced. It was a simple four-door saloon with a six-cylinder engine designed to be as aerodynamic as possible without compromising on passenger comfort.

This model was not only Toyota’s first model but was also Japan’s first car built in and for the country.


Toyota Land Cruiser

The Toyota Land Cruiser has been on the market for over 70 years since it was first developed in the 1950s.

It was initially designed to stand up to the toughest environments including deserts, jungles, and frozen lakes as an all-wheel-drive model that was developed from a military truck design.

This was the first model that Toyota exported and with more than five million sold worldwide it’s safe to say it was a hit. The Land Cruiser on sale today pairs off-roading capability with the latest technological advances for safety and comfort and much more stylish designs.

Toyota Corona

The first Toyota Corona appeared in 1957 and was a small family car that was intended for the European and UK markets. It was introduced after the company’s debut appearance in the 1965 London Motor Show and became a hit with it remaining on the UK market until the mid-1970s, though it remained on sale in other parts of the world until 2001.


Toyota Corolla

The next family car to come from this Japanese powerhouse was the Corolla. Introduced in 1966 Toyota have made more than 39 million Corollas, and this number continues to rise with production ongoing.

The Corolla has been through many generations since the one pictured and while practical functionality has remained a central part of the car’s design there have been some models that provided incredible driving fun as well. For example the Corolla GT which was renowned for drifting and became a  track and rally stage winner in Japan.

Toyota Hilux

Toyota has a lot of firsts under its belt, including the first car to be driven to the Magnetic North Pole which was the Toyota Hilux.

It’s an immensely capable all-wheel-drive vehicle that has been used on several trips across Antarctica to the South Pole as well as featuring in a memorable episode of Top Gear where it refused to be destroyed despite being washed out to sea and crushed under the rubble of a collapsing tower block on the way to the North Pole.


The Supra

The Supra began life as a powerful version of the Celia before it became a model in its own right in 1986 as a performance flagship model that got three championship titles in the Japanese Super GT racing circuit.

Toyota Rav4

The Rav4   was a four by four designed for the everyday that focused on easy handling, practical space and fun for the driver. When it launched in 1994 it was described as “what weekends were made for”.

This pairing of fun and functionality revolutionised the modern SUV market and the Rav4 remains a best-seller today.


Toyota Prius

In 1997 the Prius came onto the market and with it electric hybrids became mainstream as it was an affordable and practical model that utilised hybrid technology. It was touted as the original eco-car, using hybrid technology in a popular model that went on to be one of the best selling hybrids to date.

It was originally a four-door saloon that arrived in the UK in 2000 providing drivers with 55.4 mpg and 120 g/km CO2 but as it has evolved it’s gone on to improve significantly on these with some models achieving 83 mpg and emitting just 94 g/km of CO2.

Images Sourced:

Toyota Today:

Toyota have produced some of the world’s most popular models and continues to be at the forefront of making electric cars affordable for all drivers. In 2021 they won several 2022 DrivingElectric awards, with the Proace and Proace City Electric winning best medium and best small electric van respectively and they Prius winning the best used hybrid car.  We expect to see the company producing many more EV and hybrid models in the coming years as the industry shifts towards electric cars for all needs.

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