BELGIUM: Toyota expanding Europe R&D
Toyota Motor Europe (TME) has announced a two-phase spend of EUR80m on its 21-year-old European Technical Centre located in Zaventem, Belgium.
Phase one initially will create 250 new jobs as a test track is built, new test equipment added and premises renovated to create an additional 12,000 m2 of workshop space.
"The decision reinforces Toyota's long-term commitment to localise vehicle development still further and tailor mobility solutions for its European customer base. Toyota's total investment in European R&D now exceeds EUR200m," the automaker said on Thursday.
TME R&D chief Kazuhiko Miyadera said the announcement signalled a major vote of confidence in the long-term growth of European R&D, and was a credit to the centre's highly skilled and capable workforce.
His announcement came ironically the same week just-auto reported on Nissan shifting some R&D work from the UK to India.
"Our new and expanded R&D capability will ensure that technological developments are closely matched to European driving conditions, standards and tastes," Miyadera added.
Zaventem will take "significantly" more responsibility for the development of new Toyota models.
"This will help to strengthen ties with suppliers in Europe and ensure a stronger integration of European technologies in new models early on in the development process," TME said.
The new three-lane test track will be 1.3km long and include different driving surfaces and slopes reflecting European road conditions. This will allow vehicle prototypes to be tested and driving characteristics, such as vibration, wind noise and powertrain suitability, to be assessed in a secure, yet real-life, environment. Toyota will take specific steps to ensure that every-day noise levels in the immediate area are not affected by use of this track.
As part of the automaker's commitment to reduce environmental impacts across every aspect of the business, the expansion will be managed according to strict eco-friendly design and construction criteria. Up to 80% of demolition materials will be recycled and reused on-site, significantly reducing traffic congestion. TME is also investigating the use of geothermal energy and photovoltaic solar panels to limit the centre's dependency on fossil fuels and improve energy efficiency.
Toyota already has a strong presence in Belgium, which is also home to Toyota's European head office near Brussels.
The facilities in Evere, Zaventem, Diest and Zeebrugge have accounted for EUR594m so far and employ over 3,000.
The Toyota Technical Centre was opened in 1987 and houses TME's research and development, purchasing, and production engineering activities.
The centre undertakes body and chassis design; the selection and testing of materials and components; engine evaluation; and the tuning of driveability characteristics of all Toyota models sold in Europe. It currently about 800.