From its origins to its remarkable durability tests, Toyota has quite a few stories to tell. Take a ride through these seven interesting facts about the automotive giant:
1. City Takes the Name, Not the Other Way Around: Contrary to what one might assume, Toyota is not named after its hometown. The city, originally known as Koromo, actually rebranded itself as Toyota in 1959 because of the immense popularity the company had garnered.
2. The Toy ‘Yoda’ Incident: A Hooter’s restaurant once held a sales competition in 2001, promising a “new Toyota” as a prize. What they actually meant was a new toy “Yoda.” When a waitress won and was handed the Star Wars figure, she filed a lawsuit for fraudulent misrepresentation and won a settlement large enough to purchase a real car.
3. The Pickup that Refused to Die: The TV series Top Gear once put a Toyota pickup truck through extreme conditions, like submerging it in seawater and setting it on fire. Astonishingly, the truck still functioned after minor repairs, which were done using only the tools available in the truck’s own toolbox.
4. From Silk to Steel: Before becoming a car-making behemoth, Toyota was actually in the textile business, specializing in silk-weaving looms. Even today, their emblem—a thread passing through the eye of a needle—serves as a tribute to their original trade.
5. Why Not Toyoda?: Initially called Toyoda, the company held a renaming contest in 1936, which attracted over 27,000 entries. The name “Toyota” was selected because writing it in Japanese required eight strokes, a number considered lucky for wealth and prosperity.
6. The Philosophy of Kaizen: In 2013, instead of merely donating money to the New York Food Bank, Toyota applied its principle of Kaizen—meaning “continuous improvement.” Toyota engineers managed to reduce the waiting time at the soup kitchen from 90 to just 18 minutes by optimizing processes.
7. The Land Cruiser’s War-Time Origin: Toyota’s Land Cruiser has its roots in military history. During World War II, the Imperial Japanese Army got hold of an American Jeep and ordered Toyota to recreate it. The result was the creation of the iconic Land Cruiser.