Japanese carmaker Toyota is one of the foremost names in the automotive world, a producer of safe, user-friendly vehicles ranging tiny hatchbacks to full-size SUVs. In addition to a well-earned reputation for reliability, Toyota is notable for building efficient hybrid models like the Prius.
Toyota's first offering, the Type AA, launched in Japan in 1936, with exports to the U.S. beginning in 1957 under the quirky, short-lived Toyopet nameplate. The...
company really came into its own in the states during the oil crisis of the 1970s, when demand took off for small, fuel-thrifty cars like its Corolla and Corona.
The 1980s saw the expansion of Toyota's lineup with the MR2 sports car and 4Runner SUV, but the most notable debut was the Camry, a midsize sedan that would go on to become a perennial best seller. Toyota also began U.S. production during the decade, an operation that has grown to include no less than 10 plants today.
Toyota continued to gain momentum in the 1990s, with Camry and Corolla sales reaching new heights and the automaker's utility models, including the then-new RAV4, benefiting greatly from the decade's SUV craze. Perhaps most importantly, years of low-emissions vehicle research culminated in the 1997 debut of the world's first production hybrid vehicle, the Prius, in Japan.
U.S. sales of the Prius began in 2001, with the gas-electric car soon gaining widespread acceptance and paving the way for numerous other Toyota hybrid models. By July 2013, over three million Prii had been sold worldwide.
At present, Toyota fields respected, dependable vehicles in nearly every mainstream segment imaginable. In the future, the automaker plans to continue developing its hybrid technology while also infusing its solid but often sedate models with more excitement.