Since its relaunch through a merger
three decades ago, Toyota Motor Corp. has expanded its operations
to become one of the world's leading companies although it has
recently been hit by the global financial crisis and the yen's
Sunday marked the 30th anniversary of the launch of the new Toyota resulting from the integration of Toyota Motor Co., which was in charge of manufacturing automobiles, and Toyota Motor Sales Co. on July 1, 1982.
The unification came 32 years after Toyota Motor Sales was spun off from Toyota Motor Co. in 1950 as a step to rebuild the group's operations, which had deteriorated partly because of an in-house labor dispute.
Industry watchers say that Shoichiro Toyoda, who became the first president of the new Toyota and is now serving as its honorary chairman, had played a leading role in nurturing the company into a global player.
Fukui Prefectural University Prof. Takao Nakazawa, who is familiar with matters related to Toyota, says that the merger of the manufacturing and sales arms "enabled Toyota to better obtain customer information and undertake the whole process of building automobiles from the design stage to the delivery of the products to customers."
In the wake of the Japan-U.S. trade friction in the 1980s, Toyota started full-fledged overseas production partly by establishing a plant in the United States in a joint business with General Motors.
Toyota now aims to attain annual global auto sales of 10 million units by promoting its strategic car Etios and other models mainly in rapidly growing emerging economies.
In recent years, however, its earnings have been hit by the global economic downturn that followed the 2008 collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers, large-scale recalls of its vehicles worldwide, the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern Japan, and the yen's sharp appreciation.
In fiscal 2008 that ended in March 2009, Toyota incurred a group operating loss for the first time in 71 years.
After returning to the black in fiscal 2009, the company posted a group operating profit of 355,627 million yen in fiscal 2011.
Toyota is aiming to shore up its earnings further under the leadership of President Akio Toyoda, the eldest son of Shoichiro Toyoda, by taking advantage of its strength in eco-friendly vehicles such as the Prius hybrid.
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