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Everything You Need to Know About Japanese Cars

Car Advisor Tamotsu Todoroki

Hi, this is Tamotsu Todoroki. I am a car advisor of PicknBuy24.com.
I write an online column every week to take care of your vehicle. My column is all about something useful and practical for your vehicle. Please have a look once to keep your car in good condition.

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The Toyota Corolla Allex Versus The Toyota Corolla RunX - Vol.173

In 1966, Toyota began producing a new line of cars that they named "Corolla." Though botanical in origin, the name Corolla means "crown," which is appropriate as the Corolla soon became the king of the car industry. By 1974, the Corolla was the best selling car worldwide; the Corolla line of cars has remained near the top spot in annual sales since. In 1997, it surpassed the Volkswagen Beetle as being the top-selling name in automobiles; nearly forty million Corollas have been sold since the first car was produced in 1966.

Alongside the Corolla, Toyota produced a car intended for exclusive sale in Japan named the Sprinter. The Sprinter, though using the same body design, was originally envisioned as a more sporty version of Corolla. The Sprinter was so well-received that Toyota and the US manufacturer General Motors worked together to create a "new" car destined for the American marketplace based on the Sprinter's design. Beginning in 1984, the Sprinter found itself reborn as the Chevrolet Nova. The Sprinter eventually was used to create both the Geo Prizm in the late 80s and then again as the Chevrolet Prizm from 1997 to 2002.

Such nameplate switching is a common practice in the automobile industry. The design and implementation of an automobile production can sometimes take years and costs thousands of dollars. Even then, the new design might be rejected by the management teams of the automobile company. Once the car makes it to the marketplace, however, there is no guarantee that it will be well-received by the public. No one wants to be responsible for creating a new Edsel. In order to hedge their bets, automobile manufacturers will often engage in "badge engineering" or "rebadging" in order to avoid investing a lot of money in a project that might fall flat.

While the Corolla and the Sprinter, to an extent, have been very popular throughout their run in both the domestic buyers, for the Sprinter, or for international marketplaces for the Corolla, the Corolla car itself has gone through many redesigns throughout the years. Again, this is a fairly common practice in the automobile industry; new technologies and safety implementations will find their way into popular-selling cars to make the cars more appealing to new buyers. Oftentimes, the look of a car will appear old-fashioned or out-of-date, and the manufacturers will try to make the cars look more modern with a retooling of an existing design. While this is not exactly "rebadging," it is creating a "new" car from an existing automobile design.

Another common practice in the automobile industry is platform sharing, in which an existing design is used across a variety of different body types. For instance, it is common for automobile manufacturers to use the same chassis when building a Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) as they would for a sedan or to use the body of a pickup truck when manufacturing a cargo van. In the case of the Corolla, the same compact car design can also be used to create a hatchback design. A hatchback is a compact car with a door on the rear of the car that swings up, providing access to the cargo area.

Toyota, when expanding into the hatchback market, took the Corolla design and simply tweaked it in order to provide access to the back storage compartment with an upward-swinging door. Thus was born the Corolla FX hatchback. This eventually was rebranded as the Toyota RunX; the Japanese domestic car, the Sprinter, underwent the same alteration in design and was rebadged as the Toyota Allex. Essentially, the RunX and the Allex are the same car with different names. One was built with from the body design of the Corolla line intended for sale only within the Japanese domestic market while the other was taken from the line of cars that has become one of the world's best-selling cars domestically as well as internationally.