Germany’s Nürburgring racetrack might (rightly) make you think of F1 and Grand Prix. But think of Toyota? You will now. The brand-new Toyota Technical Center Shimoyama in Japan is an R&D joint tucked in the mountains between the cities of Toyota and Okazaki, and its signature piece is a three-mile-plus course. Toyota said, “Based on long experience of the Nürburgring Nordschleife, which is famous throughout the world for its grueling driving conditions, Toyota has designed an exacting test course that takes advantage of local topography and features a roughly 75-meter change in elevation between its highest and lowest points, as well as a wide range of curves and corners.”
The first hires so far? Mostly test drivers. That’s because in addition to the Nürburgring-ish course, there will also be a high-speed test course and specialized ones replicating roads of the world, so that the automaker can build its future vehicles to better interact with various surfaces and severe conditions located anywhere and everywhere. The plan for the tech center includes developing vehicles, too. Said Toyota President Akio Toyoda, “With the aim of making ever-better cars, we have continued to make various efforts in ‘feeling the road’ and ‘conversing with cars’ through driving tests around the world, including our Five Continent Drive Project and the Nürburgring 24 Hours endurance race.”
By the numbers, the facility is approximately 1,600 acres, with about 200 acres intended as developed green spaces, while 40 acres are tagged for things like reservoirs. Around 17 acres are for roads, and 393 acres equal facility sites. The biggest number goes to preserved trees and greenery, at 955 acres. Conservation is key at the location Toyota chose, with original trees remaining intact. Toyota said it “intends to continue cooperating with experts, local governments, and communities in the vicinity of the facility to conduct environmental conservation initiatives in the forests and valley bottom rice fields of this valuable satoyama (a Japanese term referring to hills and forests located near communities that are deeply linked to human life) ecosystem.”
The center should be completed by 2023 (with that being the target date for the high-speed course and specialized courses as well), at a cost of about $270 billion.
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