The humble Toyota Corolla first made its debut in November 1966 in Japan, and within two years, doubled its annual production from 480,000 to 1.1 million units. Looking back in hindsight, it’s clear that was a sign of what’s to come, because 55 years on and 12 generations later, Toyota has now sold 50 million units of the Corolla sedan worldwide.
The Corolla was a catalyst for mass car ownership in Japan and the rest of Asia, says Toyota. At the time of introduction, Japan was just about to experience its first boom in motorisation, and the same phenomenon was also happening in many countries, including our young Malaysia, thanks to the government’s plans to industrialise the nation.
As such, the Corolla was developed right from the start to be a global model, not only by export from Japan, but also for assembly in many countries. Completely knocked-down (CKD) packs were developed to accelerate local assembly, and in the process, valuable technology was transferred which helped in the industrial development of these countries.
And that was why in 1965, when the Malaysia government invited car manufacturers to assemble their products in Malaysia, Toyota was among the first to respond, with the Corolla being the ideal candidate to kick off the Japanese carmaker’s local assembly operations.
Since then, the carmaker has sold some 300,000 units of the Corolla in the Malaysian market, a part of the 50 million nationwide. Demand has only grown stronger since the model was first launched in 1968 – more than 40,000 units of those were for the 11th-generation Corolla, sold from 2006 to 2013.
In fact, in the decade between 2010 and 2020, the Corolla accounted for 6% of Toyota’s total sales in the country, with the 11th-generation model becoming the best-selling generation to date.
Now in its 12th generation, the Corolla has become Toyota’s most recognised models, and one of the world’s top-selling cars. It’s available in more than 150 countries around the world, and about one of every five Toyotas made is a Corolla.
The Toyota Corolla also bred a generation of loyal Toyota customers – and specifically loyal Corolla customers; 63% traded in their old model for a new one when it was launched, and almost a third of Corolla customers also bought one as an additional car for the household.
“Each generation, right from the very first, has been a contributor in the brand transformation. From the first generation which began the motorization of the masses to the latest generation which was the basis of the transformation, the Corolla has always been in sync with the changes in society and the economy of Malaysia,” said UMW Toyota Motor President, Ravindran K.
In the 55 years that the Corolla has been around, one thing remain constant and still valid – the basic philosophy of affordable and reliable motoring, filled with advanced technologies. The 12th-generation Toyota Corolla is a true testament to that ideology, now being built on the TNGA platform, and offering class-leading advanced driver assistance and technologies with the Toyota Safety Sense suite.
While the philosophy remains, the original design of the Corolla has also evolved over the generations to meet changing tastes and lifestyles of customers. For example, the Toyota Corolla Cross was unveiled last year in response to the surge in popularity of SUVs, marking the first time that the best-selling car model in the world has been offered in this body style.
The segment has since become increasingly competitive in recent years, the Toyota Corolla’s achievements cannot be denied, and we’re sure it’ll continue to achieve greater successes in the future. Do you have a Corolla story of your own? Let us know in the comments section below!