American Journey: New Challenges/One Toyota (2008-present)

by Dan Miller and Dan Nied
Sept/Oct 2017
Just when it seemed the sky was the limit, Toyota, along with virtually every other automaker, suffered a sales decline in 2008 due to a severe economic downturn. Still, Toyota outsold Chevrolet that year to become the No. 1 automotive brand in the U.S. And it passed GM in global sales to become the world’s largest automaker.
 
Then, in 2010, Toyota was hit with a series of recalls related to reports of sudden unintended acceleration. That led to Congressional hearings and federal fines. While weathering that storm, an earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan in 2011 destroyed four of Toyota’s plants. Flooding in Thailand suspended operations at two more. Yet, by year’s end, production returned to near-normal levels, a testament to the company’s resiliency.
 
And, in a true test of physics, a 2012 Tundra towed the space shuttle Endeavour to its final destination at the California Science Center.
 

Tundra makes history towing Endeavour space shuttle in 2012.




One Toyota 
 
Toyota emerged from those trying times determined to not only regain its sales momentum but to reposition itself as a leader in global mobility. Guided by Akio Toyoda, the grandson of the company’s founder, the company pushed ahead with the unification of its North American operations in Plano, the introduction of the Mirai hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, the formation of the Toyota Research Institute — with its focus on artificial intelligence and robotics — and, to leverage breakthroughs in big data, the creation of Toyota Connected.
 

2016 Mirai

 
Meanwhile, Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky (TMMK), now the largest Toyota plant in the world, produced its 10 millionth vehicle. And nine of Toyota’s North American manufacturing facilities exported nine different models to some 32 countries worldwide. Sixty years after offloading its first shipment of Toyopet Crowns at a California port, Toyota had come full circle.
 
Looking ahead, Toyota said it will invest an additional $10 billion in capital investments in the U.S. over the next five years. Toyota’s economic impact on this country is considerable. Just consider some of these cumulative numbers to date:
 
  • $23.4 billion in direct investment
  • 10 manufacturing and assembly facilities
  • Nearly 1,500 Toyota and Lexus dealerships
  • 136,000 direct, dealer and supplier jobs
  • More than $921 million donated to U.S. nonprofits
 
So what awaits Toyota around the next bend in its ongoing American journey? Odds are, breakthroughs and innovations we can’t even imagine.
 
Fasten your seatbelts and enjoy the ride!
 

TMNA headquarters opens in 2017.

 
 
Cultural Trends
 

AF archive/Alamy Stock Photo


The 2010s are a golden age of television, with shows like Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones dominating the landscape. Star Wars rebooted with well-received sequels. Superhero movies joined forces so Batman and Superman could face off, and the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy could take turns saving the world.

Toyota's Historical Timeline
American Journey: Humble Beginnings (1957-1969)
American Journey: Gaining Traction (1970-1988)
American Journey: Robust Growth (1989-2007)

 

 

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