I’m David Veech and this is Elevate your performance.
With Sakichi Toyoda’s death in 1930, his Son Kiichiro and nephew Risaburo were left to run his businesses. As a result of a great earthquake in 1923, which destroyed significant pieces of Japan’s railways, demand for automobiles soared.
Ford built a plant in Yokohama in December 1924, beginning production in March of 1925. In 1927, General Motors began assembly operations in their plant in Osaka. The surge of vehicles produced by these two plants effectively destroyed Japan’s domestic automobile makers at the time.
It wasn’t until 1933 that Kiichiro established an Automotive Production Division within the Toyoda Automatic Loom Works. It began prototyping parts and designs which were reverse-engineered from a 1934 Chrysler DeSoto and a Chevrolet Engine. Kiichiro had to establish his own steelmaking department as well, because their expected demand from existing steel mills was too low.
They purchased some machines, and converted others from the Loom works to begin making parts. Kiichiro also sent an engineer to the US from January to July of 1934 to learn more. That engineer visited 130 plants, 7 research facilities, and 5 universities to study the automotive and machine tool industries.
The Japanese government asked Toyoda to develop a truck as well, so Kiichiro bought a 1934 Ford Truck to use as the model, similar to how he used the DeSoto as the model for their first car. That first car, the Model A1, was finally finished in May 1935. The first truck prototype, the G-1 was finished in November that year. Both were prone to serious defects.
With promising developments in the domestic manufacturing capability, the Japanese government changed the licensing rules, restricting licenses to manufacturers owned by a majority of Japanese citizens, effectively restricting Ford and GM from continuing operations there. This, despite low output of the 2 domestic manufacturers, Toyoda and Nissan. By September 1936, Toyota’s volume had grown to just 100 vehicles per month.
In 1936, Toyoda hosted a contest to design a new Logo for the company, and changed the name from Toyoda with a D to Toyota with a T, as Industry leaders recommended. People submitted 27,000 entries with the winner announced in the October 10, 1936 issue of the Toyota News.
They established the Toyota Motor Company in August 1937 and saw their dealer network grow to 22 outlets. These dealers became significant investors in the new company.
We’ll pick up here tomorrow and talk about Japan’s entry into World War II.
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