Toyota etymology: What does its name mean? Who is it named after?

Toyota often vies with Volkswagen for the title of the world’s best selling automaker, but what does its name mean, and what is its history?

Toyoda Automatic Loom Works was founded by Sakichi Toyoda in 1926. Having revolutionised the textile industry with its Type G high-speed automatic loom, the company setup an automotive department in 1933 under the control Sakichi’s eldest son, Kiichiro.

When the car company was spun off as its own firm in 1937, they decided to start branding their vehicles Toyota (トヨタ) rather than with the family’s surname, Toyoda (トヨダ).

This reduced the number of strokes for the company’s name to eight, a lucky number in Japan. Just as importantly, the T was clearer than D, and the new name took away any relationship with farming, as Toyoda can be taken to mean “fertile rice field”.