Welcome To The Official Blog Of Toyota

  • We're Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. (TMS) - and we're here to talk about Toyota's mission, products and culture. In the process, we'll cover topics that will make this blog interesting, entertaining, informative and diverse. We’re here to listen, too. We hope that you'll join us as we veer from the beaten path and take to the open road.

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Countdown to Toyota's 50th Anniversary Celebration

October 10, 2007

Fade to Black: Early Toyota Exec’s Persistence Is Rewarded

50_years It might not register on the outside world’s radar screen, but those of us at Toyota Motor Sales (TMS) are getting ready to celebrate a rather significant birthday later this month: Toyota’s first 50 years in America. As such, Open Road has been looking back at the past—and gaining a new perspective on Toyota’s presence in the U.S. automotive landscape in the process. One revelation: this company has come a very long way in its understanding of and responsiveness to the needs and wants of American car buyers.

The story behind the first black Toyota illustrates the point.

In 1969, Norm Lean left behind a 12-year career at Ford Motor Company to join the fledgling TMS. He grew up in the days when a black Porsche 356356porsche  was the quintessential sports car and he once owned a black 1932 Ford Roadster. So when he became national sales manager in 1972, he started asking the powers that be at Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) in Japan to add a black Celica to Toyota’s U.S. product line. Each time he made the request, the response was, "Yes, but…" which Lean soon figured out was their polite way of saying, "No."

It wasn’t until 1975, when he got the chance to share a ride with then TMS President Isao Makino from San Diego to TMS’ headquarters in Los Angeles, that he managed to break through. Makino explained that in Japan, black is 1978blackcelica reserved for limousines and hearses. Lean countered that in America, black is the preferred color for sports cars. Late that same afternoon, Makino got on the phone with Japan (they were just starting their work day) and relayed Lean’s message—bridging the cultural divide. A few days later, TMC agreed to build Lean’s black Celica and it proved to be a big hit.

Now, flash forward to the present. More than half of the vehicles Toyota sells in North America are built here. And it invested more than $1 billion in a plant in San Antonio, Texas to assemble the full-size Tundra pickup—a uniquely American beast that will only be sold here.

To borrow the old Virginia Slims ad slogan, "You’ve come a long way, Toyota!" If it remains true to these roots, you can’t help but wonder what the next 50 years will bring.

~ Contributed by Dan Miller, TMS Corporate Communications

October 07, 2007

Highway to the Future: The Mobile Hybrid Experience


Knowledge is good, so with that in mind, we wanted to call your attention to a program called "Highway to the Future: Mobile Hybrid Experience." Quite simply, the program, which has been under way for a while now, is an interactive mobile museum designed to provide consumers with a first-hand, hands-on opportunity to learn about, and experience, Hybrid Synergy Drive - Toyota’s hybrid technology.

The program consists of an 18-month odyssey undertaken by sophisticated traveling displays built into a pair of expandable tractor-trailer combinations. The trucks will tour all 48 contiguous states, stopping at more than 150 events such as fairs, home shows and the like, to set up shop and demonstrate just what Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive is all about. Where space permits, there will even be the opportunity for participants to test-drive our hybrid vehicles.

Continue reading "Highway to the Future: The Mobile Hybrid Experience" »

October 03, 2007

IRV'S SHEET: Once More - We at Toyota Want new CAFE Standards!


In his October third New York Times column (Et Tu, Toyota?), Thomas Friedman takes Toyota to task for backing Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards proposed in the Hill-Terry Bill before the House of Representatives instead of more stringent increases favored by the Senate. The author questioned why Toyota, which he cites as a fuel-economy and environmental-technology leader that popularized hybrid technology with the wildly successful Prius, opposes the most aggressive increases in CAFE.

The question is fair, but overlooks a more obvious question for a business in the fiercely competitive automotive market. To use a metaphor from track and field, why would a competitor leading the field not want to put them at an even greater disadvantage by raising the high-jump bar as high as it could go? After all, if indeed Toyota has a head start in fuel-efficient technologies such as hybrids, advanced gasoline powertrains, plug-in hybrids and other high-mpg vehicles, why wouldn’t it want to make others work even harder to catch up?

The answer is simple: It’s because there’s a point at which the bar is set too high for all competitors.

Like other major automakers, Toyota is in the business of offering a full lineup of cars and trucks to meet the needs of American motorists. Its success is the result of listening to customers and offering products they want. Those who point to average fuel economy levels in Europe or Japan overlook the real reasons these markets are different: higher fuel prices, steep fuel and vehicle taxes, different driving conditions, smaller vehicles and dramatically different customer tastes. There are no mandated minimum fleet standards comparable to our CAFE requirements.

Like it or not, Americans will continue to need and want variety, including pickups and SUVs. Nobody forces cars and trucks on consumers. They vote with their wallets.

There are those who attach a variety of ulterior motives to Toyota’s position, are unhappy that we sell pickup trucks and SUVs, or distrust that we are working with other automakers to help set industry environmental direction.

Friedman calls for Toyota to be a leader. We are leading. Toyota has endorsed higher CAFE standards for years. Recently the Union of Concerned Scientists noted that "Toyota is the only major automaker to consistently improve global warming performance since 2001, thanks to hybrids and better conventional technology." And our passenger-car lineup has the highest CAFE rating in the industry.

As one of the few members of both industry trade organizations, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, Toyota has worked behind the scenes to help gain unprecedented support among arch-rival companies for the best standards that can reasonably be met.

Automakers get it this time, calling for up to a 40% increase to 35 mpg by 2022, the first increase since 1985. In a business where product plans are set six, eight and even 10 years in advance, 2022 is closer than it would appear.

When was the last time any industry asked for a mandate requiring costly changes to product lineups going against the known buying habits of 16 million customers per year? Wouldn't it be great if the airline industry, our public utilities, railroads and trucking companies came to the table requesting low carbon emission mandates?

Automakers are now pulling in the same direction, and Toyota believes it has helped lead the industry in that very positive direction. But you can't bankrupt the industry if you want it to invest in our environmental future.

~ Contributed by Irv Miller, Group Vice President, Corporate Communications

October 02, 2007

Bizarro World: LA Transplant Pays a Visit to his Midwestern Roots

I made a weekend trip to Kentucky recently to attend a family wedding. I should quickly point out that I was born and raised in Ohio but have spent the last 24 years inRural_america_2 Southern California. As such, journeys back to the homeland (or the general vicinity) are as much about a shift in time as in space. My adopted home has given me a very different perspective on reality. Not necessarily better or more valid. But it’s sure as heck different.

Case in point: the collection of cars that the wedding guests arrived in. Virtually all of them were domestic-made, or at least sold by U.S.-based car companies. One of the few exceptions was a silver Toyota Camry driven by my aunt and uncle—my favorite aunt and uncle, I should add! What makes their choice of vehicle even more significant is that they live in Columbus, Ohio, just 30 miles or so southeast of Marysville, home to American Honda’s first U.S. manufacturing plant—the one that churns out Accords, the Camry’s prime competitor. These two are clearly free thinkers who aren’t afraid to zig while the vast majority is zagging.

Toyota_camry_xle_2008_440x220_2I’d like to think that if I had lived the last 24 years in the Midwest rather than on the West Coast, I’d be a zigger rather than a zagger, too. But I really can’t say for sure. In Los Angeles, non-Detroit vehicles are the rule rather than the exception. Compared with the Midwest, it’s like Bizarro World in the Superman comics. Habits, and preferences, are deeply entrenched. It’s the challenge Toyota faces with its new Tundra and lifelong owners of domestic full-size pickups—only in reverse. So, for me, it seems perfectly normal to work at Toyota and drive a Lexus. Most of my relatives likely think otherwise but, thankfully, are too well-mannered to raise the issue.

Are we forever locked in our parallel realities? A Toyota dealer reminded me that, while the Camry is the best-selling car in America today, the late-lamented Olds Cutlass wore that crown 20 years ago. So there are no guarantees—even if, based on my weekend in Kentucky, it sure seems that way.

~ Contributed by Dan Miller, Corporate Communications

September 28, 2007

Where Will You Drive Your Toyota This Weekend?

The weekend is here and the open road looms invitingly ahead. So tell us: Where are YOU going to drive your Toyota this weekend? (Jealousy points awarded if you're headed off to watch the leaves change color.)

September 26, 2007

The Toyota Land Cruiser Spotter’s Guide - "Because You Can’t Tell the Players Without a Program!”


Some of you know that when Toyota came to the United States in 1957, it brought two vehicle lines with it. One was a sedan called the Toyopet; the other was the Land Cruiser. Not to put too fine a point on it - the Toyopet was not exactly a resounding success. It was, in fact, quite unsuited to the American market. So, OK, that plan was scrapped.

Ah, but the Land Cruiser was a different plate of sushi entirely. American buyers eagerly adopted the Land Cruiser for its ruggedness, quality, and go-anywhere ability – and even, to a certain extent, its anti-style. Indeed, Land Cruiser sales helped Toyota maintain a foothold here in the U.S. in the early days.

So the Land Cruiser has maintained an enthusiastic fan base here in the U.S. – so much so that vintage Land Cruisers can now command very stout prices.

But the Land Cruiser is much more than a U.S. phenomenon. Indeed, it is sold around the world, and is especially popular and plentiful in developing countries. Because of that, it has been built in a bewildering array of varieties.

So many varieties exist, in fact, that keeping them all straight, and telling one from another, can be a challenge.

Well, thanks to Open Road, no more!

Please read on as we present our Land Cruiser Spotter’s Guide. It’s intended to help you tell a BJ 25 model from an FJ70. And also to perhaps enlarge just a little on Toyota’s incredible heritage of hardware and engineering.  .  .

Continue reading "The Toyota Land Cruiser Spotter’s Guide - "Because You Can’t Tell the Players Without a Program!”" »

September 24, 2007

IRV'S SHEET: Hybrid Tech: You Comment, We Respond


Back on September 8th, I published a quick piece I called "Hybrid Tech: Parallel vs. Series." One of the great things about the blogosphere is that it’s a two-way street, a format that invites, if you will, call and response, point and counterpoint.

So it wasn’t long until our friends at CalCars.org (or, more formally, California Cars Initiative for Plug-in Hybrids), to respond to my post with some interesting points. If you haven’t already done so, you can read them by scrolling down to the comments section of my September 8 post.

While we’re pleased that the folks there are willing to engage in this important discussion, our general reaction to those comments is that unlike the Blue Ray-vs-HD/DVD metaphor that some have suggested, we don't see the series-vs-parallel discussion as an either/or sort of thing. We do not believe that only one solution will be adopted, and all others will be abandoned.

Instead, what we expect is a diversity of solutions. That makes this a very exciting time for anyone who is interested in advancing automobile technology. Just as is the case with conventional internal-combustion engines, we expect to see many different approaches and nuances.

In any case, it seems appropriate for me to clarify a few things, so here goes. .  .

Continue reading "IRV'S SHEET: Hybrid Tech: You Comment, We Respond" »

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