The Toyota Motor Company is a current leaders in domestic sales with 40 per cent of the Japanese market.
Toyota range is brightening with the snappy-looking Corona 1500, which is selling well on its looks and luxury trim in Australia, Denmark, Canada, Holland and the U.S.A. Where all Japanese cars on the export market lose out is that Government taxes and licensing laws, as well as the deplorable state of the roads (with the exception of the super-highways built for the Olympics), have channelled general design into a cul-de-sac of over-bodying under-powered engines. Consequently the Toyota Corona 1500 is a family favourite, the larger 6-seater 1,900 cc. Crown is sold mainly to taxi and hire car operators, and the large luxury Crown Eight with a 2.6-litre aluminium vee-8 engine is a prestige executive car only. The Crown Eight is currently a 2.6-litre embarrassment to the company and export sales are not envisaged until some of the engine teething troubles are sorted out. But with the Crown Eight the Japanese customer gets plenty of luxury. Plush upholstery, plus literally everything electric that opens and shuts (including electric seat adjustment). The self-seeker radio can be controlled by back-seat passengers, Toyoglide automatic transmission is standard, and air conditioning can be installed for a few extra yen. Favourites on the home market are the de luxe models of the 700 c.c. horizontally opposed 2-cylinder, 2-stroke Publica, and the 4-cylinder Corona and Crown. Road performance doesn't count for much on crowded, rough roads with speed limits well under 50 m.p.h. In place of pace that neither the roads nor the law allow him to use, the Japanese motorist enjoys his luxury trim and a heavy, sturdy automobile.
About 12 miles outside Nagoya, 250 miles south of Tokyo, Toyota City has mushroomed into a population of 35,000, 80 per cent of whom are employed in some facet of the Toyota sphere of activities. The town was originally called Coromo, but Toyota influence was so great in the area that the name was changed in favour of the company. Toyota provide their workers with hostel accommodation and apartment buildings as well as a four-storey technical training centre, a hospital, and several sports fields near the main factory and administration buildings. Car production began separately from trucks, at a factory a few miles from the original plant in 1959.
Their technical centre operates quietly and secretly behind high barbed-wire fences across the road from the administration offices. There the engineers are working on new models, debating whether a sports car is a good move for domestic sales, and reportedly studying single-seater chassis bought from Brabham and Lotus. Toyota top men say that they have no interest in competition, and that Honda have made their formula 1 move because they rely on competition successes for sales. However, Honda denied any 4-wheel racing interests when they bought a Cooper chassis a few years back, and Toyota certainly didn't buy the Lotus and Brabham to mount above the fireplace in the boardroom.