The Toyota Corolla has reached another milestone in its record-breaking history this summer, passing through 50 million global sales since the first model rolled off the production line in 1966.
In the course of more than six decades, the Corolla name has been used for a great variety of models – small saloons, family hatchbacks, spacious estate cars and sporty coupes. Alongside its status as an enduringly popular road car, it has also enjoyed success at the highest levels of motorsport, both on track and the rally stage.
As an enduring fixture in Toyota model ranges around the world, it has constantly moved with the times in terms of technology. Today’s 12th generation Corolla in the UK and Europe is powered by an advanced full hybrid electric system and comes as standard with the Toyota Safety Sense package of sophisticated active safety and driver assistance features.
Moreover, the UK is the production centre for all of Europe’s Corolla Hatchback and Touring Sports models, built at Toyota Manufacturing UK’s Burnaston factory near Derby and using engines produced at its Deeside plant in North Wales. Previous generations of Corolla and Auris – as model that forms part of the Corolla family – have also enjoyed “Built in Britain” quality since the late 1990s.
For the past three seasons, Corolla has been a winning participant in Britain’s most popular national racing series, the British Touring Car Championship, entered by Toyota Gazoo Racing UK.
The launch of the first generation Corolla proved to be a dynamo for Toyota’s auto manufacturing growth in the 1960s as a car that created rather than met popular demand, as Eiji Toyoda, the then Toyota President, explained: “While some are of the opinion that Corolla rode the wave of motorisation, I think it is the other way around. We worked to create popular demand with Corolla and that’s what we did.”
Corolla was the ideal car for Japan as it entered a post-war building boom, creating new suburbs and road networks for its fast-growing population. With the economy prospering, consumer goods were in high demand, including affordable family cars. Enter the Corolla, positioned in the Toyota line-up as an accessible and desirable family saloon. Little did Toyota know then how great the scale of Corolla’s success would be.
Outside Japan, Corolla was a key model in introducing Toyota to new markets. This included the UK, where it joined the pathfinding Corona in 1967. Since then, more than 603,000 Corolla cars have been sold here – together with almost 200,000 UK-built Auris models.
A full history of all 12 Corolla generations can be found in the online Toyota magazine here.