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Toyota to open new R&D base with 5,000 engineers

From THE ASAHI SHIMBUN| March 01,2007

Toyota Motor Corp. will set up a new research and development center to bolster new vehicle development and support global expansion, sources said.

The company aims to open the facility in 2012 on a 700-hectare plot straddling the cities of Toyota and Okazaki, both in Aichi Prefecture.

The facility will call for investments of tens of billions of yen and employ about 5,000 engineers, including some new recruits.

The R&D center will be one of the largest to be operated in Japan by an automaker.

The center will consist of facilities for new vehicle development and test courses, including a 6-kilometer circuit and a 2-kilometer stretch.

Toyota is accelerating global expansion, with a groupwide production target set at 9.42 million units for 2007.

The company is under pressure to beef up vehicle development capabilities, particularly for models targeted at emerging markets.

The new center, located near the automaker's headquarters in Toyota, is expected to improve the efficiency of new vehicle development.

Toyota employs about 15,000 engineers at its three domestic vehicle development centers, including one at its headquarters.

The others are Shibetsu Proving Ground in Shibetsu, Hokkaido, and Higashi-Fuji Technical Center in Susono, Shizuoka Prefecture.

Part of the headquarters' research and development division will move to the new center.

The Aichi prefectural government plans to purchase the plot, currently forests, from private-sector landowners, prepare it for industrial use and sell it to Toyota.

Toyota plans to begin construction of the research and development center in fiscal 2010 if preparations go as scheduled.

The prefectural government has earmarked about 1.4 billion yen in the fiscal 2007 budget for land surveys and environment impact assessments for the planned site.

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