Toyota's Process for Creating the GR Corolla and GR Yaris
【Summary】Toyota's performance and motorsports division, Gazoo Racing, has implemented meticulous manufacturing methods to build the GR Corolla and GR Yaris. These limited-production hot hatchbacks have posed unique challenges to traditional manufacturing processes. The assembly line at the Motomachi factory in Japan includes a large turntable to redirect the cars onto an alignment rack, minimizing uneven loads on suspension bushings.
Toyota's performance and motorsports division, Gazoo Racing, has faced unique challenges in manufacturing their limited-production hot hatchbacks, the GR Corolla and GR Yaris. The compact layout of the assembly line at Toyota's factory in Motomachi, Japan, necessitates the use of a large turntable to redirect the cars onto an alignment rack, reducing stress on the suspension bushings and improving chassis adjustments. These racing-inspired driver's cars have earned accolades and are produced at the same facility that previously built the Lexus LFA.
The GR Corolla, introduced for the 2023 model year, is a larger, North American-focused version of the GR Yaris, which serves as the basis for Gazoo's World Rally Championship race car. It features all-wheel drive, a 300-horsepower turbo inline-three engine, and a close-ratio six-speed manual transmission. The GR Corolla's solid feel and precise reflexes are a result of its reinforced structure, with nine extra feet of adhesive and 349 additional spot welds compared to regular models.
In the separate Gazoo Racing factory, the production of GR Corollas and GR Yarises is a low-volume operation, with only 49 GR Corollas, eight GR Yarises, and four track-focused GRMN Yaris models produced daily. Specialization is key to this operation, with GR workstations arranged in semipermanent cells that combine multiple production steps into one. Electric power tools are used instead of compressed air, reducing costs and complexity. Autonomous tugs move partial vehicles between stations, and workers manually check the machines' output.
The GR Corolla's chassis precision is achieved through a single jig welding process, which is different from regular models that are welded together on multiple fixtures. The suspension mounting points are scanned and measured, allowing for the precise matching of individual components. This attention to detail is a result of Gazoo Racing's influence on the development and assembly of Toyota's production vehicles, with the goal of making GR models fit for the racetrack right off the showroom floor.
The development of the GR Corolla involved treating engineers as a race team, overcoming challenges together and focusing on creating an enjoyable driving experience. Chassis components are meticulously measured and matched for optimal balance, and the cars undergo extensive verification steps inspired by motorsports. Only after passing these tests are the cars taken for a test drive and prepared for shipping.
Gazoo Racing plans to continue building future GR models with the same level of attention and precision. The company also aims to support its cars throughout their life cycles by offering aftermarket performance parts. While electric models are likely to join the GR lineup in the future, their development poses unique challenges due to their driving characteristics.
The creation of the GR Corolla represents a dream car for many at Gazoo Racing, and the team's passion and dedication have influenced Toyota as a whole. The company has embraced pushing the limits during development and rewards engineers for their efforts. The GR Corolla and GR Yaris are the result of this approach to carbuilding.
Toyota's Technical Center Shimoyama, located near the company's headquarters in Toyota City, played a significant role in the development of the GR Corolla. The facility features a country-road handling course inspired by Germany's Nürburgring Nordschleife, providing a challenging playground for chassis engineers. The course includes blind switchbacks, sharp rises, and fast, sweeping corners. It is designed to test the handling and ride quality of vehicles and incorporates safety measures such as catch fences to protect drivers and the surrounding environment.
Gazoo Racing's commitment to detail and performance is evident in the manufacturing process of the GR Corolla. With a focus on precision, balance, and enjoyment, these limited-production hot hatchbacks embody the spirit of racing and deliver a thrilling driving experience.
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