The History of Aisin's Advanced Technology: Evolving along with the Toyota Crown

Aug.10, 2022

The History of Aisin's Advanced Technology: Evolving along with the Toyota Crown

Since its debut in 1955, the Toyota Crown has been equipped with Aisin’s leading-edge technology; both, Aisin’s advancement in technological innovation and the Crown have evolved simultaneously. From Japan’s first automatic transmission (AT), to the world’s first power tilt & telescopic steering column, Aisin’s key role in the Crown’s history illustrates our impact on the automotive industry as a whole.

Japan’s first automatic transmission, “Toyoglide,”

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Fully automatic 2-speed Toyoglide

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Second-generation Crown (1962)

Toyoglide, the first domestically produced AT is one of the earliest examples of Crown technologies involving Aisin. Japan’s AT era began with the installation of Toyoglide in the first-generation Crown, which was the first luxury passenger car made in Japan.

Because ATs dramatically improved the ease and comfort of driving, it was clear that there was a vast market for this product. In 1961, Aichi Kogyo Co., Ltd., a predecessor company of Aisin, took on the task of manufacturing the first-generation Toyoglide, the first Japan-made RWD 2-speed semi-automatic transmission developed by Toyota Motor Corporation. 

Subsequently, Toyota actively improved Toyoglide from a first-generation semi-automatic 2-speed transmission into Japan’s first fully automatic 2-speed transmission in 1963. This version was installed in the second-generation Crown. Aisin continued to make significant progress in production technology and systems which allowed for the production of 50,000 Toyoglide units in 1965. Because of our role in manufacturing Toyoglide, we greatly contributed to the ease and popularization of driving in Japan.

As Toyoglide gained popularity, a patent concern was evolving. There was a possibility that the Toyoglide mechanism would infringe on AT-related patents held by Borg-Warner, North America’s premier auto parts manufacturer. Toyota Motor Corporation, Aisin and Borg-Warner collaborated and in 1969 they established Aisin-Warner Limited, a Japan-U.S. joint venture specializing in automatic transmissions. Subsequently, Aisin-Warner served as a leading AT company which was essential to the progress of motorization in Japan.

Aisin’s vehicle-mounted equipment was popularized due to its installation in the Crown

Two technologies used in the first generation: rack-and-pinion-operated door lock and friction-operated bumper jack

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Pinion type door latch

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Friction-operated bumper jack

The AT was not the only advanced technology installed in the successive generations of the Crown. The pinion type door latch installed in the first-generation double door Crown was also developed by Shinkawa Kogyo Co., Ltd., a predecessor company of Aisin.

Original research launched in 1953, long before modern testing equipment for verification, so Aisin worked on development using self-made measuring instruments. We overcame many hardships but were able to successfully develop the door lock in 1954, and it was used in the first-generation Crown.

Shinkawa Kogyo also developed the first Japan-made friction-operated bumper jack to create a product comparable to that of leading Western manufacturers. Though the initial structure failed because the screw threads wore out, we persevered and succeeded in developing a jack with a new and improved structure. This jack was also used as a vehicle-mounted tool for the first-generation Crown.

The 03-55 Rear-Wheel Drive 3-speed AT, developed and produced through trial and error

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03-55 RWD 3-speed AT

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Fifth-generation Crown (1974)

As Toyota began to boost production with the Crown as its leading product, there was a demand for a new AT as an alternative to Toyoglide. To meet the demand, Aisin-Warner embarked on the development and production of a completely new RWD 3-speed AT (03-55) featuring excellent durability and shifting feel.

Under the supervision of a technical director dispatched from Borg-Warner’s British subsidiary, engineers worked on development while facing great difficulties including breaking through language barriers to decipher engineering drawings written in English and writing English reports to Borg-Warner.

Following three years of development, the 03-55 transmission was completed and would be used in the fifth-generation Crown. After production began, Aisin-Warner came up with a surprising 100 percent inspection policy. Each one of the completed ATs was mounted on an actual vehicle and subjected to a specific-distance driving test. As a result, the 03-55 was highly valued as an extremely reliable AT with high performance.

The world’s first power tilt & telescopic steering column

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Seventh-generation Crown (1983)

In the 1980s, the Crown became more luxury-oriented. To meet the goal of being the world’s finest prestige sedan, Aisin developed the world’s first power tilt & telescopic steering column. This combination of products and technology allows the adjustment of the steering wheel—up/down (tilt) and in/out (telescopic)—to be made electrically instead of manually. Aisin’s innovative power tilt & telescopic steering column provided a sense of luxury and comfort that could only be experienced in the seventh-generation Crown, quickly making it a dream car with the famous slogan “Someday I’ll have a Crown.”

Entering the era of electrification technology to achieve carbon neutrality

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1-motor hybrid transmission

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16th-generation Crown (2022)

The Crown continued to evolve with the times, and hybrid Crown models were launched in the 2000s. The 13th-generation Crown adopted Aisin’s first RWD hybrid transmission, which has supported the evolution of hybrid models for many years.

In 2022, the latest 16th-generation Crown was finally born. The new Crown model “Crossover RS” uses the cutting-edge electric 1-motor hybrid transmission and eAxle units jointly developed by BluE Nexus, Aisin and Denso.

The front-mounted 1-motor hybrid transmission integrates the newly developed Direct Shift-6AT with a driving motor and an inverter. The rear-mounted eAxle is also used in the Toyota bZ4X.

By maximizing the potential of these electric units and a 2.4-liter turbocharged engine, the new Crown Crossover RS has achieved excellent fuel efficiency and acceleration performance worthy of a premium model, with agile steering and a high-quality driving feel.

To this day. Aisin’s advanced technology continues to contribute to the value and prestige of the Crown brand.

Aisin has always been at the forefront of innovation, exploring and developing technologies to meet the needs of the times while keeping pace with the evolution of the Crown. We will continue to apply these same methods to the work we do with all of our customers.