Editor's note: An earlier version of this story included an incorrect opening date for the Higashi Fuji assembly plant. It opened in 1967.
TOKYO — Few undertakings are as symbolic of Toyota's determination to transform itself from an old-school, metal-bending automaker into a next-generation, digitally driven new mobility player.
Next month, Japan's biggest automaker will shutter a 53-year-old assembly plant that makes some of its most niche nameplates. In its place, Toyota will erect a fanciful city of the future.
Toyota Motor Corp. announced the creation of this so-called Woven City in January at CES, with scant details about the living laboratory for towns of tomorrow.
Now, President Akio Toyoda is putting more meat on its bones, talking about mixed mobility grids, underground transportation ducts, a starter population of 360 residents and more.
"We are going to change ourselves from an automobile company into a mobility company," the scion to the founding family said during the company's financial results announcement Friday, Nov. 6.
"In this plan, we are going to utilize this location to develop products that can create profit and value for us in the future," said Toyoda, who is trying to reinvent the company to better compete in an age of upheaval wrought by electrification, connectivity and artificial intelligence.
Autonomous driving, another new technology disrupting the auto industry, will be a key focus of Woven City and is a central reason for building such a city in the first place, Toyoda added.
"It's important to think about autonomous vehicles with the infrastructure as a package," he said. "By having the infrastructure together, the development speed can accelerate significantly."
Woven City will be laid out in 150-meter-by-150-meter grids with three kinds of roads, Toyoda said. One will be dedicated to autonomous vehicles. Another will be only for pedestrians. The third will be for mixed use by pedestrians and their personal mobility devices. Some roadways will be above ground, exposed to the elements, to test mobility technologies in rain, snow, fog and sun. Others, Toyoda suggested, would be below ground, where they can fully leverage the efficiency of zipping around, rain or shine.