Special issue: How Toyota became a juggernaut

Out of small beginnings.

Toyota cracked the Big 3 in U.S. auto sales in 2006, passing DaimlerChrysler and closing in on both Ford and General Motors.

But a half-century ago, America was still a gleam in the eye of a few optimistic Toyota executives in Japan. Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. set up shop Oct. 31, 1957, in a former Rambler dealership in Hollywood.

Sales began in 1958. That year's total: 288 vehicles - 287 Toyopet Crowns and a Land Cruiser. Last year in the United States, the company surpassed 2.5 million sales of Toyota, Lexus and Scion models. Toyota also built 1.6 million vehicles and 1.4 million engines in North America in 2006.

It has been quite a ride, one of the most phenomenal business success stories of all time.

In a special issue Oct. 29, Automotive News will examine Toyota's 50 years in the United States in Turning Points: 25 Pivotal Decisions in Toyota's 50 Years in America.

For information on this project, contact Mary Beth Vander Schaaf at mvanderschaaf@crain.com.

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