October 31, 2007 – Torrance, CA - Fifty years ago today, when tailfins defined the cutting edge of automotive styling and a handful of import auto companies struggled to sell 83,000 units, Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc. began marketing quality cars and trucks in the United States.
TMS opened for business in America on October 31, 1957, in Southern California, and started selling cars the following summer. By the end of 1958, it had sold just 287 Toyopet Crown sedans and one Land Cruiser – a far cry from 2006 sales of more than 2.5 million cars and trucks.
"Over the years, our philosophies of continuous improvement and customer satisfaction have evolved but continue as the ultimate drivers of our success," said Jim Lentz, TMS executive vice president. "We remain focused on providing American consumers with innovative, quality products for the next fifty years and beyond."
Fifty years ago, the company started with just two models and 45 dealers. Today, the Toyota, Scion and Lexus lineups feature 27 models offered by more than 1,400 dealers across the nation.
After the Toyopet Crown's lackluster sales performance, Toyota spent seven years carefully studying the needs of American drivers, returning with a new car, the Corona, in 1965. Designed specifically for American roads and tastes, the powerful, compact Corona was an overnight sales sensation and helped establish Toyota's reputation for high-quality, dependable vehicles.
The Toyota 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 later became the first international automaker to surpass annual sales of one million vehicles in 1986. Also in 1986, Toyota produced its first car built on American soil -- the Corolla FX15 -- at the New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. plant in Fremont, Calif., a joint venture with General Motors. Today, Toyota operates ten plants in eight U.S. states with an eleventh plant under construction in Mississippi.
In 1989, Toyota established Lexus, its luxury line of vehicles, with the debut of the Lexus LS 400 and ES 250. The brand took off and is now the best-selling luxury line in America.
Toyota reached another milestone in 1997, when the Toyota Camry became the best-selling passenger car in the U.S., a title it has held for nine of the past ten years. A year later, Toyota launched its first full-sized American pickup, the Tundra.
Toyota marked the start of the new millennium with the launch of the Prius sedan, the world's first mass-produced hybrid gas-electric vehicle. Three years later, Toyota's new, breakthrough hybrid technology, the "Hybrid Synergy Drive," was introduced for use in the all-new 2004 Prius, now the best-selling hybrid in the nation.
In 2003, Toyota launched Scion, its third line of vehicles, featuring three modestly-priced, feature-rich vehicles under an innovative, youth-oriented marketing program. Bolstered by three strong brands, Toyota's U.S. annual sales topped two million vehicles for the first time in 2004.
Toyota continued expanding its hybrid lineup in 2005 with the introduction of the world's first luxury hybrid, the Lexus RX 400h, and the Toyota Highlander Hybrid. Toyota added a hybrid option to its popular Camry sedan in 2006, and began building it in the U.S. at its Kentucky plant. That year, the company also opened its tenth U.S. plant in San Antonio, Texas, to build full-size pickups along with its first truck plant in Princeton, Ind.
Also in 2006, Toyota launched the FJ Cruiser with a design that harkens back to the early years of the rugged Land Cruiser, the only vehicle Toyota has sold continuously throughout its entire 50-year history in the U.S. In the same year, Toyota reported sales of more than 2.5 million vehicles for the first time. Lexus was the leading luxury brand in the U.S. for the seventh year in a row in 2006, and posted best-ever sales for the tenth consecutive year.
During this year, its fiftieth anniversary in America, Toyota celebrated by introducing its largest pick-up truck, the 2007 Toyota Tundra, the second-generation of its iconic Scion xB urban utility vehicle, and the world's first V8 hybrid, the Lexus 600h L.
Adding to the celebration, this year also marks the silver anniversary for Toyota Financial Services (TFS), the finance and insurance brand for Toyota in the U.S. Growing from modest roots in 1982, TFS is now the third largest captive financial services organization in the U.S. with more than 3.5 million active customer accounts and $76 billion in total assets.
Since 1957, Toyota has invested more than $15.5 billion in its U.S. operations, and has produced nearly 14 million vehicles in the U.S. In addition, Toyota affiliates and dealers directly employ more than 34,600 people in the U.S.
Toyota (NYSE:TM) established operations in North America in 1957 and will operate 15 manufacturing plants in North America by 2010. There are more than 1,700 Toyota, Lexus and Scion dealerships in North America which sold more than 2.8 million vehicles in 2006. Toyota directly employs over 42,000 in North America and its investment here is currently valued at more than $19 billion, including sales and manufacturing operations, research and development, financial services and design. Toyota's annual purchasing of parts, materials, goods and services from North American suppliers totals more than $28.5 billion. According to a 2005 Center for Automotive Research study, Toyota, along with its dealers and suppliers, has generated nearly 400,000 U.S. jobs, including jobs created through spending by direct, dealer and suppliers employees. For more information about Toyota, visit www.toyota.com.
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