The first generation Corolla was launched in Japan in October 1966. Who would have guessed that this small car would go on to become the world's top selling nameplate in motoring history?
Cumulative worldwide sales of the Corolla family of cars reached 31,6-million at the end of June this year and the world?s most popular car model range is now in its ninth generation.
Last year a total of 1,36-million Corollas were manufactured in 16 countries or regions ? Japan, South Africa, the United States, Canada, Brazil, Venezuela, the United Kingdom, Turkey, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, Pakistan, India and China.
The Corolla has been the top-selling car on the Japanese domestic market for 36 of the past 40 years. It has been a very important export model for Toyota too, with the first Corolla leaving Japan's shores and going to Australia as a sample model for evaluation in November 1966 - a month after its launch in Japan.
Interestingly, this year the Corolla is achieving unprecedented sales success in the country to which it was first exported, as a buy down by Australian motorists gathers momentum in the wake of rising fuel prices.
For the first time in history, a small car has topped monthly passenger car sales in Australia, with Corolla beating the sales of long-established Australian favourites, the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon, on more than one occasion.
In fact, the bulk of Toyota's Corolla sales have been in markets outside Japan, with cumulative sales in overseas markets reaching the 20 million mark in May this year. Corolla is now sold in virtually all of the 170 countries and regions where Toyota is represented.
South Africa has been a particularly strong market for Corolla. It arrived in this country in 1975 at the height of a fuel crisis and was an instant success. Corolla become the country?s best seller in 1982 and has held this position ever since if the sales of the many variants are added together. Besides the cars bearing the Corolla nameplate, the "family" in South Africa over the years has also included RunX, Verso, Tazz, Conquest, Carri, Sprinter, TRD and Avante.
Last year Toyota manufactured 65 313 "Corolla family" cars at its Prospecton faculty, near Durban. This total was made up of 29 639 Corollas, 11 292 RunX?s and 24 382 Tazz's, some of which were exported. Domestic sales for the year included the Corolla Verso multi-purpose vehicle (MPV), which is made in Turkey, and "Corolla family" sales for the 2005 calendar year amounted to to 63 427 units.
By the end of July this year a further 34 090 sales of Corolla, RunX, Verso and Tazz were added to the cumulative total, taking the number of "Corolla family" cars sold in South Africa since 1975 to 1 071 342 units. This amounts to 3,4% of Corollas sold worldwide and underlines the model range's ongoing popularity in this part of the world.