Born in 1894, Kiichiro Toyoda was the son of famed inventor and entrepreneur Sakichi Toyoda, and the driving force behind the establishment of Toyota Motor Corporation. An engineering student at the University of Tokyo, he then travelled to England, where he worked at a leading manufacturer of textile machinery. Toyoda later went to the United States to study American manufacturing techniques. After returning to Japan and working at his father's loom-making business (Toyoda Industries Corporation) for a while, he began his research into automotives by first dismantling and reassembling an imported motorcycle.

After his father's death, Toyoda purchased a new Chevrolet and brought in some of Japan's top engineers to disassemble and reassemble it. By 1934, Toyoda and his team had designed and built their first gasoline-powered engine, and convinced stockholders to fully fund his new division. In 1935 Toyoda built the prototype for the first car, combining Japanese components with American parts under a Chrysler body, in what was called a Model A1.

By July 1935, Toyoda vehicles were manufactured. In 1936, the spelling of the nameplate was altered from ‘Toyoda’ to ‘Toyota’, as Toyoda himself believed the new name was easier to pronounce. The auto division gained success quickly, and was spun off as a separate business from that of his father’s.

In 1937, the Toyota Motor Corporation was established, with Toyoda as Vice President, and subsequently as President four years later.

From then, he saw to the growth of the corporation, eventually becoming one of the largest automotive manufacturers in the globe.