The First Fruits of One Toyota

TMNA R&D expansion opening marks the end of one process and the beginning of another

May 10, 2017
A New Home -- Three years after the announcement, TMNA R&D's new Purchasing and Prototype Development Centers opened last week. 

On April 28, 2014, Toyota Motor North America CEO Jim Lentz announced the company would be moving its North American headquarters to Plano, Texas, that it would create a new production engineering facility in Georgetown, Kentucky, and that its research and development operations in Ann Arbor and York Township, Michigan, would undergo a major expansion.
 
For those who were team members at the time, that was an unforgettable day. And for those who have come aboard since, it’s likely their path to Toyota was somehow set in motion with that announcement.
 
Since then, Toyota has undergone a massive amount of change. In addition to the “One Toyota” goal Lentz laid out, TMC President Akio Toyoda’s vision has spurred Toyota’s evolution from a car company to a mobility company, and a transition to Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) – a new way of building cars with common parts and platforms – is underway all over Toyota’s North American manufacturing plants.
 
As Lentz says, One Toyota is more than a building. It’s a mindset. But last week, with the official opening of the Toyota Motor North America Research & Development (TMNA R&D) Purchasing and Prototype Development Centers, One Toyota is officially a building, too.
 
The expansion to TMNA R&D (formerly TTC) represent tangible, long-term fruits of One Toyota. And it’s just the beginning. Next week, 250 team members will be the first group to make the move to Toyota’s new North American headquarters in Plano.
 
“There’s a tremendous energy throughout our company,” Lentz said at the TMNA R&D opening on May 4. “And it’s inspiring greater collaboration, innovation and faster decision making, all with an eye on our customers as we focus our efforts on the future of mobility.”
 
The Background --  As Lentz celebrated the campus opening, he touted Toyota's investment in Southeastern Michigan. 
 

The Fruits of Our Labor

The York Township expansion will include consolidation of prototype development operations, the construction of a new supplier center, and the expansion of powertrain operations at the nearby Ann Arbor campus.
 
“We have more than 1,600 team members (working in Southeastern Michigan) today,” Lentz said. “And we’ve brought 335 positions to Michigan from other parts of the country. But we’re not stopping there. We’re also ramping up our hiring efforts. We’re recruiting some of the brightest minds who want to join our efforts here in Michigan to challenge what’s possible both in their roles at Toyota and within the auto industry.”
 
That “challenge what’s possible” attitude echoes Toyota’s new cultural priorities. And it’s an apt description to what’s going on not only at TMNA R&D, but also at the Toyota Research Institute (TRI) in Ann Arbor, California and Massachusetts, and Toyota Connected (TC) in Plano. Both were introduced in the last two years, designed to move Toyota and its customers toward the future of mobility through, among other technologies, autonomous and connected vehicles.
 
And with last week’s expansion opening, all three entities – TMNA R&D, TRI and TC – will be able to work together more quickly and efficiently to speed our journey to the future.
 
Ultimately, the $154 million investment in TMNA R&D 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. And, they created the largest Toyota R&D center outside of Japan.
 
A New Leader -- New TMNA R&D Executive Vice President Shinichi Yasui praised Toyota's expansion and spoke
of its potential to provide better ways to serve our customers. 
 

One Mind, One Toyota

“This helps us redefine the next generation of mobility and provides ever-better ways to serve our customers, our communities and our team members,” TMNA R&D Executive Vice President Shinichi Yasui said at the opening. “The best news of all? This campus brings together Toyota R&D teams in one location, which strengthens collaboration in the heart of the auto industry in Southeastern Michigan.”
 
It also signifies the official beginning of a new era for Toyota. When he made his announcement three years ago, Lentz told of a meeting he had with Akio Toyoda. Toyoda challenged Lentz to make bold decisions that would lead the company to success for the next 50 years.
 
And, as evidenced in York Township last week, Lentz’s response to that challenge are becoming realities. Thousands of team members coming together to form one company, ready to take on the future. 
 
By Dan Nied

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