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He is regarded as the founder of the Toyota car division, born in 1894 in a small village near the provincial capital of Nagoya, about 300 km as the crow flies west of Tokyo. The greater Nagoya area, today a city of millions, which not only houses Toyota, but also subsidiaries such as Lexus and Denso, Aisin and NGK.

Kiichiro was the only son of Sakichi Toyoda, who is considered the (co-)founder of the Industrial Revolution in Japan. He has helped the area, traditionally dominated by textile crafts, to switch from a large proportion of manual work to inexpensive mechanical looms. He later even invented an automatic loom and other devices in this domain.

In addition to his wife, he left his two children in the village early on. Later the marriage ended in divorce. However, Kiichiro managed to study mechanical engineering at the renowned university in Tokyo. However, the father does not seem to have enough confidence in him, so he appointed his son-in-law as trustee of his factories.

However, Kiichiro's father's order is said to have been to devote himself to car production. He even sent him on a trip to Europe and the USA, which he himself had just experienced with great astonishment. However, the enormous investments required to get into automotive technology put a strain on his relationship with his brother-in-law.

When Kiichiro started, times couldn't have been worse for that. Japan was ruled by the military, had annexed Taiwan and Korea, and after winning the war against Russia in 1905, aimed at Manchuria, not least to solve its raw material problems. Instead of the first passenger car, the trucks desired by the military were produced. A GM six-cylinder was copied, initially with little success.

Toyota was more popular with the military than its only competitor, a forerunner of Nissan and Datsun because one copied there indeed but then developed oneself further. After all, five new trucks packed with spare parts managed the maiden voyage to the presentation in Tokyo. Only truck needed one part.

Production has been going on in a newly built factory since 1935.

With the trucks, one had to reckon with errors, some of which were considerable, for a long time. In order to be able to get to the bottom of this better, Kiichiro opened a small research position in Tokyo, which was gradually filled with graduates of the university and expanded into a laboratory.

In mid-1936, the sedan (picture above) and even a convertible (picture below) could be presented in addition to the truck. The truck was now called 'GA' instead of 'G1', so that all vehicles initially had a code letter for the body and then one for the engine, with the convertible the latter being a further development.

In 1937 the Toyota stock corporation was founded in order to be able to bear the enormous costs for an even larger plant, because the automobile department gradually outgrew the building of looms. The new spelling reportedly required only eight brushstrokes instead of ten, and '8' is a lucky number in Japan.

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