Feb 25, 2024
Feb 25, 2024
Toyota Kaikan Museum, in Toyota city, Aichi Prefecture, near Nagoya, Japan is not just a tourist destination for engineers and auto enthusiasts, but also a must to visit place for people of all ages from children to old, men and women. In fact, the children taking a day school trip probably is the largest segment of the visitors to the museum. In today’s world automobiles have become the center of our lives, as a result, most of the people have set foot in an automobile dealership and the showroom. But visiting this museum is like taking the experience of visiting a car dealership into the stratosphere.
Toyota for the last 40 years or so has ranked amongst the top car manufacturers in the world, and this museum showcases their spectacular rise as the leading manufacturer of automobiles along with their vision of the future of this industry.
The museum, which opened in 1977, is becoming not just a place for the lineup of latest models of automobiles but also a place for showcasing concept cars as well as the new developments in the automotive industry. The museum opening coincided with the 40th anniversary celebrations of Toyota entry in auto market. The building is not of a very recent origin, but once passed through the glass doors one feels being transported into a future world. The Toyota company had started out as a manufacturer of textile machinery and entered the auto market only in 1937. It is a remarkable feat that the company has climbed to become a world leader in the auto industry.
The floor space of the museum is divided into five sections as under based on the Toyota Philosophy:
Eco and Emotion
Here a visitor can learn, and experience firsthand Toyota’s approaches to addressing the ecological, environmental issues as well as how the new technology of electric vehicles world is shaping up.
The spotlight of the exhibit was Toyota LQ model, which the company is projecting as “making friends with you via its onboard AI”. One could also see the model of Mirai car which generates power by combining hydrogen with oxygen from the outside air. There is full scale display of the working of Hydrogen Cell power train.
Besides Hydrogen cell automobiles one can also see Hybrid (HEV), Plug-In Hybrid (PHEV), All-Electric (BEV) and Fuel Cell Electric (FCEV) vehicles on display. With the concerns on environment riding high in the emotions of people, the Emotion (for Electric Vehicles) is shaping out to be the new frontier in the auto industry. Although Toyota had been putting more emphasis on the hybrid models, while moving slowly towards the EV or BEV (Toyota terminology) development compared to its peers. But now that policy has been revamped and the new management has embarked on an accelerated pace of development with a $ 7 million new investment. Toyota is now planning to issue 10 new EV models by 2026. Through the videos and interactive games the visitor can feel the heavy footprint of the hydrocarbon fuels being used now and appreciate the need to switch to cleaner energy to power the vehicles.
Safety and Freedom
In this section we can see how the Toyota team of engineers are working on the aim of achieving a world free of traffic casualties.
There is a display of a safety stimulator and cutaway body of car with the passive safety features. The car seatbelts, airbags have become an indispensable part of vehicles and other features as reverse assist cameras, blind spot warning signs on side mirrors are becoming more prevalent in the newer vehicles. The other features being offered and making further inroads include:
The driverless vehicles also called Autonomous Vehicles are newer areas of research to free the drivers from most of responsibility and the associated stress of driving the vehicles. These are still at the experimental cum development stages, and we should be hearing more about them with time as they gain steam, traction, reliability, and wider acceptance.
Simulator along with the Training Videos through virtual reality enables one to experience common weather-related accidents and appreciate the role of technology in mitigating the numbers and severity of accidents.
Production and Creation
Toyota’s vehicle production system called "lean manufacturing system," or a "Just-in-Time (JIT) system," has been a well-known proven system, which has been studied worldwide is highlighted here. The Toyota Production System is known by the acronym of TPS. The TPS starts by building and improving systems by hand until they are reliable and safe. Next through an incremental continuous improvements process steadily simplifies its operations. Eventually, the value added by the line's experienced human operators becomes a non-factor and any operator can deliver the same result.
The feel of the roles of robots cannot just be imagined and envisaged, but here through the display we can see how it is actually executed on the production floor.
Company and Society
The company’s mission statement is that its mission is to produce happiness for all, and its vision is to create mobility for all. This vision is reflected in their three-wheeler mobility vehicles on display, called C+Walk.
The tree display at the museum is to highlight the company’s mission and activities. The tree symbolizes Toyota’s vision of from “roots to fruits”. The tree symbolizes a useful, long-lasting entity which continues to grow and flourish for a very long time which they have envisaged for their vehicles. The other highlight on the display is the company’s social contribution activities.
The normal car dealership is a showroom plus a lot full of cars. But this showroom is essentially a lineup of latest models of Toyota and Lexus brands automobiles as well as in-house brand racing vehicles. Besides the four-wheel vehicles the other mobility options are also on display.
In addition to these five sections as above, there is the Museum Shop where besides refreshments, one can also buy souvenirs ranging from metal and plastic car models to various branded accessories for vehicles, logoed apparel, books, pens, pencils are also available for sale. Next to the Museum Shop there is an area for special exhibits for children, making it a special attraction for the kids.
Overall, the tour of the museum is an exciting and an entertaining experience for the visitors. Besides hopping into the current model’s lineup, one is free to take pictures by sitting at the steering wheel of vehicles. Thus, one can have the pleasure and luxury of experiencing state of the art vehicles without owning it. Sitting at the steering wheel one is in awe with technological advancements, research and developments that have enabled the development of these models and safety features. For the author, whose first own brand-new car was a Toyota and present vehicle is also from the Lexus lineup, the tour of the museum was dream come true.
Museum Website: https://www.toyota.co.jp/en/about_toyota/facility/toyota_kaikan/
Images (c) Bhupinder Singh
More by : Bhupinder Singh
|Excellent run down.Disappointing to learn that Toyota is still 3 yrs away from completing or releasing their first full EV . I’m a Toyota fan myself driving Lexus for over 10 yrs. Can’t be happier. Now I need a change when I bought my last Traditional SUV Rx 350 again.
You should send Toyota this article and ask for some royalty to promote your professional evaluation for Toyota.
You do have a PE designation ?
Thanks Bhupinder ji. Good write up.
|Very well written. Great perspective to read from an experienced engineer.
I have taken the trip last month and this article refreshed my memory.