Toyota's Process for Constructing the GR Corolla and GR Yaris
【Summary】Toyota's performance and motorsports division, Gazoo Racing, has implemented unique manufacturing methods for the production of the GR Corolla and GR Yaris. These limited-production hot hatchbacks require special attention to detail and precision in their assembly. The manufacturing process involves specialized workstations, reinforced structures, precise alignment of components, and rigorous verification steps inspired by motorsports.
In the November 2023 issue of Car and Driver, it is revealed that Toyota's factory in Motomachi, Japan, has a special turntable that directs GR Corollas and GR Yarises onto an alignment rack without having to turn their steering wheels. This procedure is implemented to minimize uneven loads on the suspension bushings and improve the precision of final chassis adjustments.
The GR Corolla, introduced for the 2023 model year, is the result of Toyota's performance and motorsports division, Gazoo Racing. It features all-wheel drive, a 300-hp turbo inline-three engine, and a close-ratio six-speed manual transmission. The GR Corolla is closely related to the GR Yaris, which serves as the basis for Gazoo's top-tier World Rally Championship race car. The GR Corolla has been well-received, earning a 10Best award and being recognized as one of Toyota's best performance machines.
Compared to other assembly lines in Motomachi, the Gazoo Racing factory has a much lower daily output, producing only 49 GR Corollas, eight GR Yarises, and four track-focused GRMN Yaris models. The low volume necessitates a high level of specialization, with GR workstations arranged in semipermanent cells. Electric power tools are used instead of compressed air to lift and locate heavier subassemblies, reducing costs and complexity. Autonomous tugs help shuttle partial vehicles from station to station, and workers check the machines' output by hand.
The GR Corolla's solid feel and crisp reflexes are a result of its reinforced structure, which features nine extra feet of adhesive and 349 additional spot welds compared to regular models. The body shell is welded together on a single jig, tightening tolerances. The mounting points for the suspension are scanned and measured to match up individual components with complementary variances. These manufacturing methods are influenced by Gazoo's experience in motorsports, with the goal of making GR models fit for the racetrack right off the showroom floor.
The development of the GR Corolla was driven by Toyota's former CEO and car enthusiast Akio Toyoda. Engineers were encouraged to function as a race team, overcoming challenges together and accelerating the development process. The goal was to create a car that not only performs well but also brings joy to the driver. The chassis components of the GR Corolla are meticulously measured and matched for optimal balance, and the entire assembly process is focused on precision and alignment.
Toyota's proving ground outside Nagoya played a significant role in refining the GR Corolla's handling and performance. The facility's handling course helped the GR team fine-tune the car and generate smiles from enthusiasts. The GR Corolla's body is lowered onto stationary underpinnings, creating a stronger connection and reducing stresses on the car's skeleton.
According to Gazoo Racing president Tomoya Takahashi, future GR models will be built with the same level of attention to detail. The company plans to analyze feedback from racers and offer aftermarket performance parts to support the cars throughout their life cycles. While electric models may join the GR lineup in the future, their development presents unique challenges.
The name "Gazoo" originated from a photo-centric used-car website called gazoo.com. In the context of Toyota's motorsports activities, it now represents a place where engineers focus on a car's details.
Before being shipped, assembled cars undergo thorough verification steps inspired by motorsports. The alignment, steering feel, brake pedal, chassis, and suspension are all meticulously checked and adjusted. Only cars that meet the strict standards are considered ready for delivery.
The GR Corolla represents a dream car for many at Gazoo Racing, and it embodies the teachings and passion the team has shared with Toyota. The development process has changed the perspective of engineers, allowing them to push the limits and create exceptional cars like the GR Corolla and GR Yaris.
In terms of specifications, the GR Corolla and GR Yaris are powered by a turbo three-cylinder engine that produces 300 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. The engine is assembled on a separate production line and receives performance-focused attention. The GR Corolla was originally designed to compete in the WRC2 class, and Toyota plans to introduce a Rally2-spec customer race car based on the GR Corolla.
The Toyota Technical Center Shimoyama, located near Toyota City, played a significant role in the development of the GR Corolla. Its country-road handling course, inspired by the Nürburgring Nordschleife, provided a challenging environment for chassis engineers to fine-tune the car's performance.
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