Kiichiro Toyoda wanted to produce automobile so, in 1937, he created a company with this purpose in mind. It was a spinoff from his father's company, Toyota Industries, which specialized in machine making. Back in 1934, Toyoda, still working for his father, is credited with the creation of the Type A engine.
Two years later, Toyoda created his first vehicle, called Model AA. The sale price was 3,350 yen, 400 yen cheaper than competitors from General Motors or Ford. The Second World War halted progress in the civilian lineup of cars, so Toyota started selling trucks to the Imperial Japanese Army.
Civilian vehicle production resumed in 1947, but the company was soon on the brink of bankruptcy. The management wanted to reduce wages and layoff most of the workers. This decision was followed by a two-month strike. The founder of the company, Kiichiro Toyoda, was forced to retire from the management role, but layoffs could not be averted.
Toyota was saved by an order of 5,000 trucks made by the American Army in the first few months of the Korean War.
Toyota started its expansion worldwide in the 1960s. The first vehicle outside Japan was produced in 1963 at the Melbourne, Australia, factory. After the 1973 oil crisis, Toyota's cheaper, smaller cars with low fuel consumption started to sell better and better in the United States. Toyota established its first American factory in the 1980s, along with other Japanese producers, like Nissan and Honda.
The 1990s saw Toyota expand its lineup with bigger, more expensive cars. The Japanese producer is also a pioneer in promoting and selling hybrid vehicles.
Toyota became the number one car producer in the world in 2008, overtaking General Motors, as the financial crisis hit American producers particularly hard. Toyota lost this position in 2016, as Volkswagen, despite the "dieselgate" scandal, managed to overtake the Japanese group in terms of sales worldwide.