Toyota Motor North America (No. 34 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list) celebrated the 40th anniversary of its North American research and development operations alongside an important milestone today, as the company officially opened its expanded Toyota Motor North American Research & Development (TMNA R&D) Purchasing and Prototype Development centers in York Township, Michigan.
Three years ago, Toyota announced its "One Toyota" plan to create more unified operations in North America with a $154 million expansion of the TMNA R&D centers in Michigan. The investment moved direct procurement and supplier engineering development talent from Erlanger, Kentucky, and vehicle development and powertrain from California. These moves reaffirmed Toyota's commitment to drive more local decision making and ultimately faster, more precise response to the needs of the marketplace.
"We are thrilled to celebrate our continued investment in Michigan, which contributes to our overall long-standing commitment to invest in America," said Jim Lentz, CEO, Toyota Motor North America. "Expanding the Research and Development Campus in York Township is an incredible next step in Toyota's journey in the United States."
The TMNA R&D campus supports the One Toyota commitment to the environment through sustainable, environmentally-sensitive and state-of-the-art design, materials, features and efficiencies like low-flow faucets for water conservation. The commitment to sustainability is also found in conservation measures, such as LED lighting, high-efficiency building shells and exterior landscaping using indigenous plants such as Michigan strawberries. Finally, the TMNA R&D Supplier Center has applied for the new LEED Version 4. If approved, this will make the TMNA R&D Supplier Center the first LEED V4 Platinum building in Michigan.
The celebration also served as an opportunity to welcome the newest executive leader to the TMNA R&D team, Shinichi Yasui. Yasui, who arrived in April, serves as Toyota engineering and manufacturing president, executive vice president of TMNA R&D and managing officer of Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC). His previous position at TMC was executive general manager of Mid-Size Vehicle Company.
"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, reinforcing our commitment to One Toyota," said Yasui. "I am excited to join the TMNA R&D team as we commemorate 40 years of engineering excellence here in Michigan."
The event will conclude with a ceremonial cherry tree planting to honor the milestone. Since opening the doors of the York Township campus, TMNA and TMC executives have sponsored and planted almost 200 trees on the York Township campus as part of the "Cherry Tree Project." The significance of the cherry blossom tree in Japanese culture dates back hundreds of years and the annual blossom season coincides with the beginning of the new fiscal year. It's fitting, then, that the cherry trees were in bloom at the TMNA R&D grand opening celebration here in Michigan, ushering in a new beginning for TMNA R&D and its important role within One Toyota.
To demonstrate Toyota's continued commitment to Michigan, the company announced $200,000 in grants to several organizations in Washtenaw County: Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels, Growing Hope, Ypsilanti Consolidated School District and Dixboro Road Shared Use Trail. The Dixboro Road Shared Use Trail is a hiking and biking trail that will connect Parker Mill County Park and the Border-to-Border Trail with Matthaei Botanical Gardens. TMNA R&D was also pleased to present a Toyota Tundra truck to York Township.