Kiichiro Toyoda – How a relentless passion made Toyota the automotive giant that it is today

Kiichiro Toyoda pushed back and beyond barriers to be the father of auto manufacturing’s most famous name: Toyota. In the pursuit of bettering himself and the “legacy” of his father, it was but normal for Kiichiro to find that which challenged him. It was simply in his nature to seek out that which makes us (him) a better version of ourselves (himself, and his family). To this very day, there has been no stronger force and name in the automotive world.

Kiichiro Toyoda and Toyota – Beginning A Family Legacy

Kiichiro Toyoda Toyota Automotive History 101 Inline 01 Min

Photo: Toyota

Even before he was born, Sakichi, Kiichiro’s father, was already a well-established and respected entrepreneur. He was also an inventor who had a knack for engineering. It all began with Sakichi’s “creation” of the loom for their textile business; there was no way that he could have known that it would pave the way to something more grand.

While growing up, Kiichiro Toyoda had visibly taken after his father. The hands-on approach was very evident in his interest in the workings of machines. This was so much so that his preferred method of learning was by doing. Kiichiro would take machines – it didn’t matter if they were the simplest of the most complex (at that time) – tear them apart, and put them back together himself. “Learning by doing”, gave him a deeper understanding of how machines work, and in turn, made him think of ways to improve them further.

Kiichiro Toyoda Toyota Automotive History 101 Inline 02 Min

Wooden Toyoda Hand Loom | Photo: Toyota

After graduating from college, Kiichiro’s interest grew more passionate than ever. As fate seemed to have it, Toyoda Boshoku (his father’s company) found itself short of one engineer who was familiar with spinning technology- Kiichiro Toyoda was asked to join. There, he worked, and being who he is, stayed for hours – days and nights, even – inside the factories learning how to spin thread and weave cloth. More importantly, he closely studied the workings of automatic looms. Eventually, he went to England and gained more knowledge in his craft, and years down the line, his abilities were instrumental in the establishment of Toyoda Automatic Loom Works. His father’s dream has now become reality.

Kiichiro Toyoda Toyota Automotive History 101 Inline 03 Min

Model AA | Photo: Toyota

The Automotive Production Division – which would eventually become the Automotive Department – was established within Toyoda Automatic Loom Works, Ltd on 1st Septemeber 1933. Ten years after the great Kanto earthquake, the notion that cars were nothing but luxury items was disregarded after automobiles became instrumental in rebuilding the cities and providing mass transportation. And so began the Japanese demand for automobiles, with many foreign manufacturers capitalizing on the need, setting up shop everywhere they could in Japan.

In response, and with Kiichiro banking on his great knowledge and expertise (plus more years of extended research), engines started coming out from their company’s Division. More years of steel research, forging technology, machining methods, machine tools, electrical component research, and even rubber product development all ultimately came together in 1935 when Tokyo Toyoda Motor Sales Co., Ltd. was founded. Only one year later, it was renamed to the familiar brand we all know today: Toyota.

From being its Vice-President from 1937 to 1941, and as its President from 1941 to 1950, Kiichiro carried not only his father’s dreams, he carved his own, indelible mark in the automotive industry. After his passing in 1952, the Toyoda family has been kept at the helm of Toyota. Today, Akio Toyoda sits as Chairman of the company, previously its President and CEO.

Kiichiro Toyoda Toyota Automotive History 101 Main 00 Min

Photo: Toyota

And here we all are, close to 100 years after their first creations rolled onto our streets. We’d think that a change in the guard might dull what original vision and path had been set for a company such as Toyota. Seeing what it is now, we all know that that will always be far from the truth. Kiichiro Toyoda’s legacy lives beyond the years of his work; it lives fully, today, here and now. As it will for many more generations to come.

Mikko Juangco
We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

YugaAuto: Automotive News & Reviews in the Philippines