Chapter 4. Eagerness to Experiment

Let's give it a try." "Don't be afraid to make mistakes." These are the mottos that Sakichi Toyoda put into practice as President of Toyoda Automatic Loom Works, and they explain why Toyota the automaker has been an experimenter since the day it began. It was this sentiment that drove Toyota to ship two prototype cars to the United States in 1957. Then President of Toyota Motor Sales Company, Ltd. in Japan, Shotaro Kamiya, was under no illusions about the company entering the U.S. market:

Even if our cars don't quite measure up at the moment, we don't have time to just stand around and watch. We need a bridgehead. Initially, we may experience some setbacks in entering the market, but all the time we'll be gaining precious experience and gradually improving our business performance. []

Kamiya knew from the start that their bridgehead model, the Toyopet Crown (Figure 4.1 (a)), might take a beating. Sure enough, it could not handle U.S. long-distance highway conditions because the body was too heavy and the car lacked power and stability at high speeds. As a result, exports were halted and unsold inventory withdrawn. But 10 years after this initial setback, Toyota was exporting more cars to the United States than to any other country. Corona (Figure 4.1(b)) sales in the United States shot up from 3,800 units in 1964 to 40,700 units in 1967.

Figure 4.1. (a) The Toyopet Crown (1957) and (b) Corona (1964).

Photo (a) courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales, ...

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