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Toyota Sets up Shop in Michigan With a $154 Million R&D Center

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【Summary】With a new North American R&D facility in Michigan, Toyota has finally completed its project of moving its powertrain engineering, vehicle development, and U.S. purchasing to Michigan.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    May 08, 2017 10:30 AM PT
Toyota Sets up Shop in Michigan With a $154 Million R&D Center

Toyota has been in the U.S. for more than 60 years and has been doing the majority of its automotive development and research in North America for 40 years. Back in 2014, the Japanese automaker began a drastic move that would see it set up its powertrain engineering facility, vehicle development plant, and the majority of its U.S. purchasing in Michigan. 

With the automaker putting the finishing touches on a $154 million R&D facility near Ann Arbor, Mich., Toyota has completed its large move. As Automotive News reports, the "One Toyota" plan started three years ago with the first step of the puzzle involving its headquarters being moved from California to Texas. The last step involved the expansion of Toyota's R&D center in the U.S. 

Expanding On Its 40th Anniversary

Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota Motor North America Inc. believes the $154 million expansion in the state "is an incredible next step in Toyota's journey in North America." Lentz, speaking in front of a large crowd at the opening of the R&D center explained how the new facility is more than just a building. 

"It's a new way of working; it's a culture shift," said Lentz. "The expansion moves engineers, technicians, designers, manufacturing experts and suppliers closer together. The improved collaboration will help Toyota achieve its goal of ‘ever better vehicles," he said. 

According to Automotive News, Toyota claims to have 1,600 employees working at the new center and believes that expansion is possible down the line. The new R&D center, as Lenz points out, will focus on the future of mobility, which includes ride-sharing services and self-driving cars. 

All Eyes Set On The Future

With the new building in Michigan, Toyota's doubling down on looking towards the future. Earlier this month, the Japanese automaker unveiled plans to expand its data science hub in Texas. The hub, which is referred to as Toyota Connected, is in charge of working on developing the automaker's Mobility Services Platform – a cloud-based system that will Toyota to create vehicles in the ride-sharing and car-sharing segments. 

Toyota's North American R&D efforts are being led by Sinichi Yasui, reports Automotive News. Yasui was previously Toyota Motor Corp.'s general manager of midsize vehicles and is now in charge of leaving the way forward for the automaker. 

"We now have a fully developed research and development operation in the heart of the auto industry in southeast Michigan which will allow for deep collaboration between all departments," said Yasui in a statement. 

This isn't the only major investment that Toyota has made into researching future products, as the automaker put approximately $35 million into its dedicated research organization, Toyota Research Institute (TRI), to research artificial intelligence earlier this year.

With all of the moves that Toyota's making, the Japanese automaker wants to have more of a North American presence and ensure that it won't fall behind when the future arrives, which is just around the corner. 

via: Automotive News

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