Being myself a former resident of Ann Arbor, Michigan, nothing makes me more glad than seeing another commercial outfit take an interest in the city – especially one so globally important as Toyota. As such, I was predictably delighted when just last week, ground was broken at the site of a sweeping expansion of the Toyota Technical Center in Ann Arbor.
The expansion project will cost somewhere in the ballpark of $126 million to reach completion, which it ought to do by late in 2016. On the Toyota Technical Center itinerary is the construction of a new Supplier Center, which will “enable day-to-day collaboration between the purchasing group, engineering design team and supplier partners,” according to the automaker.
Of course, the expansion doesn’t stop there; the Michigan-based Toyota Technical Center will also expand the existing Powertrain Development Center, which plays a role in engine and transmission development, especially for products designed and manufactured here in North America. Finally, a new prototype facility will be added.
This expansion will result in the local consolidation of much of Toyota’s North American operations, necessitating the relocation of some 300 employees from around the country. That includes faculty involved in direct procurement and supplier engineering development positions from Kentucky, and a number of vehicle and powertrain development faculty from California.
Toyota North America CEO Jim Lentz remarked at the ground-breaking ceremony that “the expansion of this campus is a key element of Toyota’s ongoing unification of our North American operations, which includes a new headquarters in Plano, Texas. Investments here in Michigan will intensify Toyota’s engineering, product development and procurement capabilities.
“The impact of this will be felt by our customers through improved quality, adoption of new technologies and greater value of the vehicles we produce.”