Inside Toyota Kaikan Museum and Plant Tour
A staff member explains the difference between Toyota and Toyoda. Photos by Benjamin Yong.
Ever wonder how a modern day Toyota gets made? The Toyota Kaikan Museum in the city of Toyota, Japan answers that very question via their tours of working manufacturing facilities.
Offered Monday to Friday, once a day in both English and Japanese, the tours are free and open to the public. The experience takes place at one of three plants: Motomachi (where they build the Crown, Mark X and hydrogen-powered Mirai), Takoka (Corolla, Harrier and RAV4) or Tsutsumi (Prius, Prius PHV and Camry).
Leaving from the museum, a guide leads visitors onto the bus for a short ride to the plant — no photography is allowed so smart phones and cameras stay on board. High above the factory floor on a series of catwalks, attendees are privy to the inner workings of vehicle assembly.
There are four main stages of the production process.
- Stamping: cut steel sheets are fed into a press machine to form hoods, doors and other parts.
- Welding: automated robots join together the various sections of the car body.
- Painting: centrifugal force and electricity are utilized to apply a primer coat to prevent rust, and then several coats of colour.
- Assembly: workers install everything from wiring to interior components. Doors are the last to go so staff can climb in and out of the car easily during this final phase.
Tours lasts approximately 60 to 80 minutes. Afterwards everyone is shuttled back to the museum where they can learn more about the factory, and browse additional exhibits such as Safety and Freedom exploring Toyota’s approach to building safer vehicles, or Eco and Emotion showcasing the brand’s eco-focused endeavours.
There are also several models sold outside of North America on display, including some of these below.
Not usually dressed like a dog, this seven-passenger multi-purpose vehicle has a 1.5-litre engine creating 105 horsepower, and is rated with a combined fuel economy of 6.2 L/100 km in combined city and highway driving.
Also known as the Noah, the Voxy minivan has been available in Japan since 2001 and is currently in its second generation. There’s seating for up to eight people, features either a conventional gasoline or hybrid powertrain and is available in front or all-wheel drive.
Think the Corolla is old? The 15th generation of the Crown premium sedan was released last year, built on the same TNGA global platform as the Prius, Camry and other familiar products.
Planning a trip to Japan? Make a reservation here.