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Toyota has been working on a new research and development center since April 2018 in Shimoyama where it opened a 3.3-mile version of the Nürburgring track a year later. Work on the R&D site has now been finalized, and there’s another connection to the famous German circuit. This time, it’s inside the building where future models are being developed.

The place where Toyota GR and Lexus models are born has an interior design that simulates the look and feel of the Nordschleife’s pit lane. This is where teams from planning, design, engineering, and development will meet with people responsible for prototypes and vehicle testing to jointly work on cars and iron out any issues discovered along the way. Aside from the R&D building itself, the Toyota Technical Center Shimoyama has a high-speed test course along with country roads and a specialized test course that mimics certain road conditions.

Spanning 2,512 square miles, the new facility includes a visitor building in the western area of the site for meetings between Toyota’s partners and suppliers. More than 60 percent of the total area is occupied by trees and greenery at the new site where approximately 3,000 people come to work each day. The world’s best-selling automaker spent nearly $2 billion at its new R&D site located in a mountainous area over the cities of Toyota and Okazaki in the Aichi Prefecture.

Chairman Akio Toyoda mentions this is the place where the employees will “drive, break, and improve cars.” The former Toyota President and CEO mentions “the more we drive and break cars, the ever-better they become.” The company doesn’t go into details about which vehicles are being developed there but we can take comfort from knowing more fun GR-badged cars are on the way. In October 2023, Toyoda hinted at a potential revival of the Celica.

You can rest assured gasoline cars are being engineered at the new site considering Akio Toyoda reckons EVs will never have a market share higher than 30 percent. To that end, a new family of internal combustion engines is being developed, and Toyota is also experimenting with hydrogen-fueled ICEs. Concomitantly, it’s exploring the idea of an electric sports car previewed by the FT-Se concept as a potential MR2 reboot with dual motors and all-wheel drive.

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