November 8, 2021


Today we revisit a company we only wrote about 3 sentences on their history… and that is Denso! How could we only give them 3 sentences when they clearly have played a critical role in making our Land Cruisers so reliable?! Well let us fix that now. Denso got their start within the Toyota Automatic Loom works as the in-house electrical and radiator parts supplier and later the in-house supplier for the young Toyota Motor Co. in 1937. After WWII Toyota was a larger and stronger company and due to several factors, and in 1949 Denso was spun off from Toyota Motor Co. It was initially known as Nippon Electrical Equipment Co. but later changed it to Nippondenso Co. At the beginning their main focus on components was clearly electrical but as we know that would change with time.

Early Denso headquarters

Quick interesting side trip to this story, in 1950, just 1 year after they broke off (but still highly connected) from Toyota, an arm of Nippondenso known as Nippon Body Co. was formed. Its role was to produce automotive bodies for electric vehicles produced by Nippondenso! Picture 2 shows an original advertisement for the automobile and picture 3 shows an amazing modern version that Denso made as a nod to that amazing forward thinking endeavor of the day. Sadly Nippon Body shuttered electric cars only 2 years later and turned their focus only to electrical components for their parent company Nippondenso. Nipponbody would later change their name to Anjo Denki Co. and then finally to Denso Electronics Co. which makes electrical parts to this day for Toyota and many other auto makers.

Nippon Body electric car
Re-imagined prototype

Now back to Nippondenso, the parent company! In about 1953 Nippondenso formed a partnership with the West German company Bosch which helped them acquire key technology related to fuel injection, spark plugs as well as other electrical components like heaters, generators (not alternators) and the like. In fact, with that technology Denso won a contract to supply Toyota with sparkplugs in 1960 and the rest is history with that! As a result of that Bosch-Denso tie up, their product line was expanded in the following decade to include car air conditioners, engine regulating equipment, and diesel engines components. Furthermore, Nippondenso all this time had been pouring A LOT of effort into optimizing production and quality control, something I am sure we all notice paid off. ;)

In 1966 Denso opened two branches in the US (LA and Chicago) which helped launch the Nippondenso name worldwide and opened many more markets to the company. In 1968 they started the first automotive research center for integrated circuitry. From this point the company REALLY took off and established itself as a key player not only for the Toyota Motor Co. in supplying the best quality parts, which Toyota stuffed all over ever Land Cruiser series, but to many other automotive (all three big American auto makers) and industrial manufacturing companies. In 1996 Nippondenso officially changed their name to Denso Corp… the company we all know and love today. Denso currently makes a WIDE variety of high quality parts, not just in Japan, but several other countries as well, always with an eye on quality. Today Denso Corp. makes products that range from air conditioner systems, windshield washers, oil filters, emission control systems, alternators, starters, spark plugs, radiators, fuel injection systems, to car navigation, safety equipment and automation (sensors) to industrial manufacturing equipment and even home, office and factory automation systems as well as traffic control systems and more!

Early Denso-Bosch electronics brochure
R&D lab
Typical Denso relay
The much desired 41010 oil filter. RIP

Denso has been with Toyota from the very beginning and their fortunes are very much tied to each other. Today Toyota owns about 25% of Denso. As Toyota Land Cruiser owners we are lucky to have a vehicle filled with the highest quality parts. But that is part of the reason we love them so much, right?! So next time you are turning a wrench on your cruiser and you see the Denso logo on a part, you will now know a bit of history behind that name and long drive to produce the best parts. However, if you own a 3FE and you want to blow up the old faulty EFI system… well blame Bosch for that one, Denso only licensed it from them. Bwahahaha. :D Cheers all from the Cruiser Cult team. More history to come and stories to come!

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