Thursday, September 08, 2005

Our trip to Aichi Prefecture wasn't a complete waste; we managed to squeeze in a trip to the Toyota Exhibition hall and plant tour. That, IMHO, was MUCH more interesting to see than the EXPO in Aichi.
Getting to Toyota Kaiken is pretty easy: Take the Metetsu Mikawa line to Toyota-shi (Toyota City), get off the train and onto the #4 bus. The stop, Toyota Honsha-mae, is literally right in front of Toyota Headquarters.

Toyota has a few major plants as well as their corporate HQ and technical and design team housed in this town in Aichi.

Here's our tour guide for the plant tour. I've read about the Japanese 5S, lean manufacturing and quality control pratices; and it was a great learning experience to be able to see it praticed at the place where it is invented.

Here's Erin with the new drivetrain for the 05' Prius.

The 05 Prius has a high voltage inverter in the drive-train, stepping up the battery power to about 400V. This gives the motor more torque, which translates to even better acceleration.

The display for the Prius drivetrain features a moving plasma display panel. As the narration (available in Japanese, English and Chinese) plays, the PDP moves according to the section being discussed and shows a cross section view of the car. Simple, but very cool demo.

Here's a machine for recycling of car parts. Newer Toyota vehicles are designed to be easily dismantled at their end of their service life and the raw materials can be recycled into new cars.

Wouldn't mind driving home one of these! The MR2 Spyder has a sequencial shift gearbox with steering wheel mounted shift buttons. Since it's a Japanese domestic market model, the steering wheel is on the right, and to activate TipTronics mode the stick has to shift to the LEFT. (You'd also have to shift with your left hand instead of your right hand...). I'm sure it's something that drivers can get used to.

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