The first Toyotas assembled outside Japan: Brazil built Bandeirantes aka Land Cruisers

The first Toyotas assembled outside Japan: Brazil built Bandeirantes aka Land Cruisers

It's a little known fact that Brazil was the first country outside Japan to build Toyotas.

Sales and marketing operations started on 23 January, 1958 in Sao Paulo City and, in 1961, land was acquired in Sao Bernardo do Campo, Greater Sao Paulo, for the automaker's first factory outside Japan, built to produce the Land Cruiser utility, named Bandeirante here.

Toyota's first car making operation beyond Japan? Not Brazil. Australia took that honour with a local contract assembler kicking off Tiara sedan production in 1963.

Toyota ended Australian production last year but Brazil now has three more Toyota factories, all in the state of Sao Paulo: Indaiatuba (Corolla), Sorocaba (Etios) and Porto Feliz (engines).

The first plant is also home to components manufacturing and applied research and design centres, plus a visitor centre.

The three units combined employ about 5,800 people.

The company is celebrating its six decades in Brazil with a Reinventing the Future theme.

Launching the Yaris is its most important current project. The Brazilian specification hatchback, different in detail from the Thai version, comes first followed, six months later, by the saloon.

The new model will fit between the Etios and Corolla in the product range with first deliveries expected early in the second half of this year.

As part of the 60 years commemoration, Toyota Mobility Foundation will make its debut in Brazil this year as will the motorsport brand Gazoo Racing.

In 2016 the automaker ranked fifth by sales in Brazil, its best achievement to date. It dipped to sixth in 2017 (below Hyundai) due to insufficient local manufacturing capacity.

This year the company will operate factories on three shifts for the first time. The new shift pattern will be at the Sorocaba plant, source of the new Yaris.

Other Toyota models sold in Brazil include the Argentine-made Hilux double cab pick-up and SW4 SUV derivative plus RAV4, Prius and Camry and the Lexus NX300, RX350, CT200h and ES350, all imported from Japan.

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