Toyota already has a Toyota Technical Center that is headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The TTC works on "engineering design, prototype building, vehicle evaluation, evaluation and design of parts and materials, regulatory affairs, emissions certification and technical research." So, what's with the news today about an expansion of the TTC campus to include a new Toyota Research Institute of North America? According to Toyota, the TRI will address "four key priorities: advanced technologies, urban environment, energy, and partnerships with government and academia." Seems kind of like two ways to say the same thing to me.
In any case, Toyota's expansion - made up of 50+ new jobs by 2010 and $100m over the next four years - is good news for Michigan, natch, but also fans of Toyota's clean cars. As we learned from Toyota Motor Corporation Japan's executive vice president, Masatami Takimoto, who is responsible for the company's research and development, in January, Toyota is taking a very open look at many gasoline alternatives. Now, Ann Arbor can play more of a role in this. More details after the jump.

Press Release:

Toyota Establishes Research Institute in North America
04/01/2008

April 1, 2008 - Ann Arbor, Michigan - Toyota Technical Center (TTC) a division of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc., today announced the establishment of the Toyota Research Institute of North America (TRI-NA). Toyota plans to spend $100 million during the next four years on advanced research activity in North America and will utilize existing facility space at the Toyota Technical Center Ann Arbor campus.

Toyota has been pursuing Sustainable Mobility, which addresses four key priorities: advanced technologies, urban environment, energy, and partnerships with government and academia. Based on these priorities, TRI-NA will accelerate advanced research on energy and environment, safety, and mobility infrastructure.

The Toyota Research Institute will be directed by Dr. Noboru Kikuchi, who is the Roger L. McCarthy Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan and also a Director of Toyota Central Research & Development Laboratories, Inc. in Japan. Dr. Kikuchi will report directly to Mr. Yasuhiko Ichihashi, President of Toyota Technical Center-NA. TRI-NA initially will employ 35 researchers and administration staff, and plans to add 10 researchers in 2008 and an additional 20 by 2010. "Creating the Toyota Research Institute is the next step to strengthen Toyota's advanced research function throughout North America and to discover cutting-edge technologies for sustainable mobility," said Dr. Kikuchi.

"Toyota's decision to establish the Toyota Research Institute in Ann Arbor to direct advanced research activities for North America is another piece of good news for Michigan," Governor Jennifer M. Granholm said. "Toyota's decision demonstrates that Michigan is a leading state for research and offers an attractive business climate for companies to grow."

Toyota (NYSE:TM) established operations in North America in 1957 and currently operates 13 manufacturing plants. In addition, new plants are under construction in Ontario, Canada and Mississippi. There are more than 1,700 Toyota, Lexus and Scion dealerships in North America which sold more than 2.9 million vehicles in 2007. Toyota directly employs over 43,000 in North America and its investment here is currently valued at more than $21 billion, including sales and manufacturing operations, research and development, financial services and design. Toyota's annual purchasing of parts, materials, goods and services from North American suppliers totals more than $30 billion per year.

Toyota currently produces 11 vehicles in North America, including the Avalon, Camry, Camry Hybrid, Corolla, Matrix, Sienna, Solara, Sequoia, Tacoma, Tundra and the Lexus RX 350. When production begins in Ontario and Mississippi, Toyota will have 15 manufacturing plants with the annual capacity to build approximately 2.2 million cars and trucks, 1.49 million engines and 425,000 automatic transmissions. For more information about Toyota, visit www.toyota.com.

[Source: Toyota]


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