Toyota Opens Expanded R&D Facility In Ann Arbor

In a milestone that celebrated just how much Toyota’s North American operations have grown since their humble beginnings in a small garage back in 1972, the Japanese auto giant formally unveiled its all new expanded Research and Development complex in York Township, Michigan.

The new facility is the automaker’s largest research complex outside of its home Japanese market, and it aims to be a key pillar in the company’s North American operations, especially in the state of Michigan which is becoming a key region for many automakers including Toyota.

More than 400 officials from Toyota as well as state officials including Governor Rick Snyder were on hand at the Toyota North American R&D Purchasing and Prototype complex to commemorate the opening of the facility, as well as celebrate the automaker’s presence in Michigan.

The $154 million expansion also follows through on an announcement that Toyota made three years ago when it revealed plans for the facility as part of its “One Toyota” plan which aimed to formally consolidate its North American operations. A direct result of this plan was a shift in talent, with the company moving employees from a Kentucky engineering and manufacturing center, as well as a California vehicle development and power train facility to the new Michigan complex.

Jim Lentz CEO of Toyota North America revealed that the state of the art building is more than just a stone and mortar complex, and it also serves as a visual representation of a mindset.

“Toyota is not limited to automotive capabilities, but also the development of robots to assist the elderly and those with physical handicaps.” Lentz also went on further in regards to the mindset that the facility represents claiming “We’re seeing that mindset in action, especially here in Michigan. We’re researching the many ways connected car technologies can produce a more personalized automotive experience.”

The facility will create 1,600 jobs, and Toyota revealed that the facility can accommodate further expansion if necessary. That latter attribute can be a key factor for Toyota over the next few years especially as the development of self driving vehicles speeds through the development phases, and into early trials out on public roads. Furthermore, the facility’s close proximity to both the M-City facility at the University of Michigan, as well as the American Center for Mobility testing facility in Ypislanti would help create a viable hub for automated vehicle research and development in the state of Michigan, and serve to further benefit all three entities in the long run.