Toyota Is Quietly Building Its Own Japanese Nürburgring11/11/2019
Germany is roughly 6,000 miles away from Japan. And even though Japanese manufacturers have onsite engineering facilities at Germany’s torturous Nürburgring, the flight for a cadre of engineers multiple times a year—and the openness to the public’s prying eyes and camera shutters—makes for less than optimal circumstances. Most manufacturers, however, just deal with. Toyota took on a different strategy and is building its own Nürburgring—what we’re affectionately calling the Toyotaring—right in the heart of the company’s operations in Toyota-shi, Japan.
Built into the very fabric of Toyota-shi’s landscape, the new facility will wind through the inner part of the city, as well as through the mountainous topography that surrounds it, once it’s fully operational. The test track, according to Toyota, is “Based on long experience of the Nürburgring Nordschleife, which is famous throughout the world for its grueling driving conditions.” Though only a small 3.2-mile section has opened so far, the rest is set to come online between today and when the facility is set to be completed in 2023.
Toyota further states that it has “designed an exacting test course that takes advantage of local topography and features a roughly 75-meter change in elevation between its highest and lowest points, as well as a wide range of curves and corners.” The company hasn’t said just how long the finished track will be, but the Country Road Test loop, which opened recently, will be combined with High-Speed and Specialized track layouts as the facility is finished in the coming years. To truly hit home that the test facility is Toyota’s version of Germany’s “Green Hell,” the company’s track was developed to blend into Toyota-shi’s surrounding mountains, city landscape, and wildlife. According to the company, approximately 70-percent of the total track’s layout “consists of the original trees and greenery.” Toyota also added green spaces where the local forests could not be saved in an effort to promote environmentalism as well.
Ahead of the partial opening, Toyota President Akio Toyoda said, “I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Aichi Prefecture, Toyota City, Okazaki City, and above all, to the local resident of Shimoyama for their invaluable assistance, consideration, and cooperation over a long period of time from concept stage to the building of Toyota Technical Center Shimoyama.” Toyoda, who’s known for his willingness to go out and race his products, also said, “Based on [our Nurburghring] experiences, we have replicated a variety of roads in the world at the new test course. In addition to conducting driving tests all over the world, and with the replication of severe driving conditions at the new test course, we intend to thoroughly hone every one of our models and develop the types of cars that epitomize the true joy of driving.”
As mentioned previously, the technical center and track won’t be fully operational until 2023, however, a handful of engineers and test drivers have already begun work on the small loop that’s been finished. Though Toyota didn’t state whether or not the company would hold races at the track, and asking such a question may seem far-fetched, Akio Toyoda is a true racing fan and has competed around the world. We could very much see him opening up the track to a racing series, even if it’s just a Toyota-spec series.
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