November 1, 2007

Toyota celebrates 50 years in the United States

Torrance, California – Toyota celebrated its golden anniversary in the U.S. yesterday; Toyota Motor Sales (TMS) U.S.A. Inc. opened for business on October 31, 1957 in southern California, and started selling cars the following summer.

Imports accounted for 83,000 vehicles in 1957, and by the end of 1958, Toyota had sold only 287 Toyopet Crown sedans and one Land Cruiser. The company started with two models and 45 dealers; today, the Toyota, Scion and Lexus line-ups feature 27 models and more than 1,400 dealers across the U.S.

“Over the years, our philosophies of continuous improvement and customer satisfaction have evolved, but continue as the ultimate drivers of our success,” says Jim Lentz, TMS executive vice president. “We remain focused on providing American consumers with innovative, quality products for the next fifty years and beyond.”

Following the Toyopet Crown’s poor sales, Toyota introduced the Corona in 1965, designed specifically for American roads and tastes; the company says it was an overnight sensation. The Corolla was introduced to Americans in 1968 and has gone on to become the world’s all-time best-selling passenger car. By late 1975, Toyota became the best-selling import brand in the U.S., and in 1978, became the first international automaker to surpass sales of one million vehicles. In 1986, it produced the Corolla FX 15, its first car built in the U.S. Today, it operates ten plants in eight U.S. states, with an eleventh plant under construction in Mississippi.

The company established Lexus in 1989, debuting the Lexus LS 400 and ES 250; the brand is now the best-selling luxury line in America. In 2003 it launched Scion, a modestly-priced line not sold in Canada.

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