Toyota has opened a $90 million training facility for its mechanics to help improve overall vehicle quality and reduce recalls. The new facility opened on Monday with a ceremony involving Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda along with government officials.
The ceremony also included Shinto priests who made offerings of cabbage and oranges in a special purification ceremony. The assembled executives and dignitaries then took part in a prayer that their cars would stay safe.
The courses at the facility simulate 13 different driving conditions including things like cobblestones, cracked, wet and bumpy roads. It’s also located in an area of Japan that boast some of the country’s hottest temperatures in the summer but still gets snow in the winter giving a wide variety of environmental conditions for testing.
It will initially train 2,600 mechanics each year but will eventually handle 4,800 mechanics a year. Across the world, Toyota has about 120,000 mechanics working on its vehicles. That number is only expected to grow as Toyota expands into emerging markets to increase its sales.
Toyota first started having trouble with its reputation when recalls began rolling in about five years ago. The recalls affected nearly every model in the Toyota lineup and totaled a whopping 10 million vehicles.
Their goal is not only to develop cars that are safe when they leave the factory, but cars that remain safe throughout a vehicle’s life. Although they concede that it’s impossible to build a car that accounts for every possible use in the real world, the facility will help them react more quickly when potential problems arise in real world use.
This isn’t the first such facility for Toyota nor is it unique to the automaker, but it is one of the largest with a .8 mile test track. It also has a four-story building with classrooms and space for practicing car maintenance checkups.
Nicole Wakelin fell in love with cars as a teenager when she got to go for a ride in a Ferrari. It was red and it was fast and that was all that mattered. Game over. She considers things a bit more carefully now, but still has a weakness for fast, beautiful cars. Nicole also writes for NerdApproved and GeekMom.