No matter how you look at it, selling 40 million units of anything is an achievement, especially when it comes to cars. Toyota announced that it has sold the 40 millionth unit of the Corolla in July. Corolla production began in 1966, and is now being assembled in 15 plants worldwide. The car accounts for one in five Toyotas sold in the company’s history. The Corolla surpassed the Volkswagen Beetle’s record as the world’s best selling car in 1997, a distinction it is likely to keep, as the Beetle is no longer designed to be a mass-market vehicle.
The Corolla has since been overtaken in popularity in its native Japan by the Prius hybrid, in the USA by the larger Camry, and in the Philippines by the smaller Vios sedan. Still, it remains a cornerstone of Toyota’s volume, moving nearly 300,000 units a year in the USA alone. As the nameplate is being criticized for delivering little more than the basics when compared to sportier, better-equipped rivals like the Mazda3 and Honda Civic, Toyota aims to fight back with a major redesign. The eleventh-generation Corolla went on sale in Japan in 2012 and in the USA in 2013. More distinctive styling is reportedly matched by better driving dynamics, in line with the company’s new direction towards more fun-to-drive vehicles.
Here’s more from Toyota:
Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) announces today that cumulative global sales of the Toyota “Corolla”, the world’s most popular car, surpassed 40 million in July, reaching 40.01 million units. This milestone marks another historic achievement for the Corolla, Toyota’s perennial global car.
In November 1966, Toyota opened a new plant in Takaoka, Aichi Prefecture, dedicated solely to Corolla production. Two years later, with an emphasis on providing region-specific vehicles, production began in Australia and Malaysia. From 1965 to 1968, Toyota more than doubled its total annual production from 480,000 to 1.1 million vehicles—a testament to the Corolla’s significant contribution to the growth of the company.
The Corolla, currently produced at 15 plants worldwide, accounts for one in five vehicles sold in Toyota’s 76-year history.
Corolla exports to North America began in 1968, and early sales success in this market helped global cumulative sales of the car reach 1 million units just four years after launch. In 1997, the Corolla became the world’s best-selling nameplate, with global cumulative sales exceeding 22.65 million units. More than a million units have been sold each year since 2002; last year, a total of 3,180 Corollas were sold every day across more than 150 countries and regions.
Marking the milestone, Corolla Chief Engineer Shinichi Yasui said: “I feel this car has been nurtured by people all over the world and I am very proud to have contributed to its foundation and grateful to all those who have owned and loved their Corollas. The key to the Corolla’s success is the faithful passing down of its original development concept from Tatsuo Hasegawa: that the Corolla must bring happiness and well-being to people around the world.”
The Corolla was originally designed to meet the changing needs of Japanese commuters in the mid-1960s. Then-Chief Engineer Tatsuo Hasegawa recognized that with Japan’s industry expanding, most consumers’ daily commuting time was increasing. The need to get around in a personal vehicle was therefore growing and this insight led Hasegawa to conceptualize the first Corolla, with his guiding principles defining the vehicle ever since: always evolving and designed to meet consumer needs in each market.
When the first Corolla rolled off the production line, many basic safety features were still optional. Later, to meet the needs of families,Toyota decided to include many of these features as standard. Toyota’s commitment to pursue higher and higher levels of quality and continue adding new standard features to the affordably priced Corolla has helped ensure that families around the world continue to choose it more than any other nameplate.
The history of the ever-evolving Corolla, filled with examples of technology and quality improvement, is emblematic of Toyota’s efforts to anticipate customer needs and provide ever-better cars.
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