The Toyota Motor Company was awarded its first Japanese Quality Control Award at the start 1970s and began participating in a wide variety of Motorsports. Due to the 1973 oil crisis consumers in the lucrative U.S. market began turning to small cars with better fuel economy. American car manufacturers had considered small economy cars to be an “entry level” product, and their small vehicles were not made to a high level of quality in order to keep the price low. Japanese customers, however, had a long-standing tradition of demanding small fuel-efficient cars that were manufactured to a high level of quality. Because of this, companies like Toyota, Honda, and Nissan established a strong and growing presence in North America in the 1970s.
In 1982, the Toyota Motor Company and Toyota Motor Sales merged into one company, the Toyota Motor Corporation. Two years later, Toyota entered into a joint venture with GM called NUMMI, the New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc, operating an automobile manufacturing plant in Fremont, California. The factory was an old General Motors plant that had been closed for several years. Toyota then started to establish new brands at the end of the 1980s, with the launch of their luxury division Lexus in 1989.
In the 1990s Toyota began to branch out from producing mostly compact cars by adding many larger and more luxurious vehicles to its lineup, including a full sized pickup, the T100 (and later the Toyota Tundra), several lines of SUVs, a sport version of the Camry, known as the Camry Solara, and the Scion brand, a group of several affordable, yet sporty, automobiles targeted specifically to young adults. Toyota also began production of the world’s best selling hybrid car, the Toyota Prius, in 1997.
With a major presence with Europe, due to the success of Toyota Team Europe, the corporation decided to set up TMME, Toyota Motor Europe Marketing & Engineering, to help market vehicles in the continent. Two years later, Toyota set up a base in the United Kingdom, TMUK, as the company’s cars had become very popular among British drivers. Bases in Indiana, Virginia and Tianjin were also set up. In 1999, the company decided to list itself on the New York and London Stock Exchange.
In 2001, Toyota’s Toyo Trust and Banking merged to form the UFJ, United Financials of Japan, which was accused of corruption by the Japan’s government for making bad loans to alleged Yakuza crime syndicates with executives accused of blocking Financial Service Agency inspections. The UFJ was listed among Fortune Magazine’s largest money-losing corporations in the world, with Toyota’s chairman serving as a director. At the time, the UFJ was one of the largest shareholders of Toyota. As a result of Japan’s banking crisis, the UFJ was merged again to become Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group.
In 2002, Toyota managed to enter a Formula One works team and establish joint ventures with French motoring companies Citro?n and Peugeot, a year after Toyota started producing cars in France.
On December 7, 2004, a U.S. press release was issued stating that Toyota would be offering Sirius Satellite Radios. However, as late as Jan. 27, 2007, Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite radio kits were not available for Toyota factory radios. While the press release enumerated nine models, only limited availability existed at the dealer level in the U.S. As of 2008, all Toyota and Scion models have either standard or available XM radio kits. Major Lexus dealerships have been offering satellite radio kits for Lexus vehicles since 2005, in addition to factory-equipped satellite radio models.
In 2007, Toyota released an update of its full size truck, the Toyota Tundra, produced in two American factories, one in Texas and one in Indiana. “Motor Trend” named the Tundra “Truck of the Year,” and the 2007 Toyota Camry “Car of the Year” for 2007. It also began the construction of two new factories, one to build the Toyota Rav4 in Woodstock, Ontario and the other to build the Toyota Highlander in Blue Springs, Mississippi. The company has also found recent success with its smaller models – the Corolla and Yaris – as gas prices have risen rapidly in the last few years.