Zipping onto the presentation area in a three-wheel concept vehicle called an i-Road, Toyota North America CEO Jim Lentz emerged with a smile and said, “You may see these around our campus in just a few years!” Then he addressed the reason why over 40 members of the media along with Toyota leadership had gathered under a large tent on the grounds of the future headquarters site: “Welcome to the unveiling of Toyota’s future North American Headquarters, and the launch of Toyota’s Ever-Better Expedition.”
Following opening remarks, a theater-sized screen revealed the impressive rendering of the $300 million campus that will be the new headquarters for Toyota North America. The 2 million-square-foot campus consists of seven buildings up to five stories tall arranged around a central plaza. Natural light will be a prominent feature. “And of course,” Lentz added, “we will use Texas limestone!”
Employees will have access to many beneficial amenities, including a fitness center, a healthcare center and pharmacy, credit union, convenience store, cafe, training center, and more. Environmental considerations are also factored into the design of the project. “We’re creating a campus that’s environmentally sustainable as we pursue LEED Platinum Certification, which is the highest level of certification possible by the U.S. Green Building Council,” Lentz explained.
Landscape will consist of native and drought-resistant plants, and the campus is positioned to maximize the sun, as solar panels will generate some of the campus’ power. Energy efficient glass and central lights will capitalize on the abundant natural light. “We are confident this campus will reflect the values of our company and those of our neighbors,” he said. Lentz introduced Chief Administrative Officer Osamu “Simon” Nagata, explaining that he has been tasked with overseeing the transition of bringing the other offices and partners into this single North American headquarters. Lentz reports, “Together we’ll be: One team. One company. One Toyota. A company that values diversity, aims to be an employer of choice, and most importantly, we’ll be a great corporate citizen to the city of Plano, as well as the state of Texas.”
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The other big announcement was the continuation of Toyota’s five-continent expedition. The tour in Australia is complete, and the second leg will be conducted in North America. Called Toyota’s Ever-Better Expedition, this 110-day leg of the continuous test drive will include nine touring vehicles. Over 140 team members will travel 16,500 miles throughout the U.S., Mexico, and Canada across all types of rugged terrain and urban settings. They will be analyzing performance, as well as getting feedback from customers along the way. Lentz said, “The idea was inspired by our president Akio Toyoda who has an absolute passion for cars, from design to driving. He is redefining the way our company approaches customer engagement as well as product development.”
Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere extended his thanks and congratulations to Toyota, then remarked that the excursion launch from Plano proves once again that what he frequently says is true: Good things begin and end in Plano!
Photography: Top photo by @loyaltoyota on Instagram, all other photos by Mike Newman