From an upstart import, when it arrived in 1964 to a solid Canadian citizen with two assembly plants in this country today, Toyota has a proud history in Canada.
Here's a look at some of the cars that have been part of that history.
Toyota began selling cars in Canada in 1964 through a distributor called Canadian Motor Industries (CMI). The first Toyota vehicles to be sold back then, as 1965 models, were the Corona, Crown (1968 model shown), Land Cruiser and 700UP10. CMI set up offices in offices initially in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia. Only 755 vehicles were sold that first year – less than a day's production at one of Toyota's Canadian plants today.
The first Corolla (shon here) arrived in 1967, along with a Corona Mk II, and CMI subsequently set up shop in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia to assemble them there. That undertaking was short lived and CMI later morphed into Toyota Canada, which focused on selling the cars rather than building them – at least for the next 20 years.
In 1969, business offices were established in the Atlantic and Prairie provinces. A year later, a new headquarters building was constructed in the Toronto suburb of Scarborough. It remains Toyota's Canadian headquarters – albeit much expanded – today.
In 1971 the original Toyota Celica was introduced – a car that immediately garnered attention for the still-new brand. A stylish, two-door hardtop coupe, it was dubbed the "Japanese Mustang" by enthusiasts and immediately established a new cadre of Toyota buyer and enthusiasts. It was soon joined by the Toyota Truck – a compact pickup that developed a near-cult following of its own.
The first Tercel arrived in 1979 – a sub-compact that fit beneath the Corolla in the lineup, subsequently spawning a 4WD station wagon version that again developed a cult-like following.
At the same time, Toyota introduced the first Supra, solidly establishing the brand as a force to be reckoned with in the sports/performance coupe market.
But the real game-changer was the first Camry, which came in both sedan and hatchback form in 1983. Although it hasn't been able to outpace the Corolla's success in Canada, it went on to become the best-selling car in the U.S. and made Toyota a major player in the popular mid-size market.
Another Toyota icon, the 4Runner, was introduced in 1984 but even bigger news came in 1985 when Toyota announced plans to build a manufacturing and assembly plant – to be called Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada (TMMC) – in Cambridge, Ontario. That same year, an aluminum wheel manufacturing plant called Canadian Autoparts Toyota Inc. (CAPTIN) began production in British Columbia.
Three years later, in 1988, the first new Corolla drove off the TMMC assembly line and Corollas have continued to roll off that line ever since. They've consistently been among the top-three cars in Canada in terms of sales and the plant itself has won several prestigious quality awards.
In 1990, the company added its own finance arm, to support local needs for financial services and in 1992, the first big Toyota pickup – the T100 – arrived. It was the first pickup to directly challenge the established North American Big Three in the market they considered their own.
Another revolution happened in 1996, with the arrival of the first RAV4, arguably the first compact SUV. That was just the beginning of the RAV4 story in Canada. More about that story later.
Another revolution occurred in 2000, when the first hybrid Prius arrived. Since then, more than 100,000 Toyota hybrids have been sold in Canada. And, in spite of the subsequent arrival of multiple competitors, Prius remains the car people equate with the word hybrid.
With the Tercel gone, as well as its Echo successor, the sub-compact Yaris hatchback arrived in 2005, to be joined later by a sedan counterpart. A couple years later, Toyota sold its 1-millionth Corolla in Canada, just 40 years from its introduction to this country.
A second Toyota assembly plant in Canada opened for busiens in 2008, producing a new-generation RAV4 in Woodstock, Ontario. That plant later became the first in Canada to build an electric vehicle – the RAV4 EV.
By 2112, Toyota had sold its 5-millionth vehicle in Canada and the Prius Plug-in Hybrid was introduced to the Canadian market. And in 2014 year, cumulative sales of Toyota hybrids topped 100,000 units.
To celebrate 50 years in Canada, Toyota is offering a limited run of two exclusively Canadian, 50th anniversary Corolla special-edition models. The first Toyota to be sold here wasn't a Corolla, but it arrived shortly after, becoming the core of the Toyota product line. It continues to be the brand's best selling model in this country to this day and has also been built here, continuously, since 1989.
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