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Toyoda knew '57 car was a clunker

Toyota's Shoichiro Toyoda: Global success story.
In 1957, Shoichiro Toyoda was a young man working his way up the management ranks. His family's wobbly automobile company had just brought its first car to the United States.

Toyoda learned firsthand that the Toyopet Crown would be a bust. Driving downhill, he said, was the only way he could get the underpowered car to merge into fast-moving American traffic.

After that inauspicious start, the company called Toyota suspended its car imports. But it also learned from its mistakes. Today, the global success story is celebrating 50 years of doing business in the United States.

Automotive News will publish a Toyota 50th anniversary issue Oct. 29.
Toyoda, 82, the honorary chairman of Toyota Motor Corp., discussed his company's experience in the United States during a speech last week in Washington.

On Oct. 29, in a special edition called Turning Points: 25 Pivotal Decisions in Toyota's 50 Years in America, Automotive News will tell many more stories of Toyota's half-century here and describe the challenges the company faces. For information on this project, contact Mary Beth Vander Schaaf at

Toyoda is the son of the company founder and was its chairman until 1999.

He previously was president of the company and of its U.S. operations.

In his Washington speech, Toyoda noted that the company had built just 14,000 vehicles when he went to work there in 1952. Last year Toyota manufactured more than 9 million cars and trucks worldwide.

You may e-mail Harry Stoffer at

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