Since the Tohoku region of Japan was devastated by an earthquake and tsunami on 11 March, Toyota has made a sustained and significant contribution to the relief efforts, supplying cars, volunteers and vital supplies to the area. In addition, 300 million yen has been pledged to charities, with an additional 55 million yen (about £432,000) being raised for the Red Cross by Toyota employees.
Now, a revitalisation initiative has been launched that goes far beyond temporary aid. Part of the ongoing Kokoro Hakobu Project (meaning ‘to carry (or deliver) one’s heart’), the initiative will see Toyota invest in education, training, manufacturing and technology across the region, helping to secure Tohoku’s commercial and social future.
Particularly significant are Toyota’s manufacturing proposals. Tohoku will be restored as Toyota’s third production centre in Japan, with the three Toyota subsidiaries based there set to collaborate in the production of a new compact hybrid car that will be one of Toyota’s core environmentally efficient models.
Equally exciting is Toyota’s plan to provide its existing hybrid line-up with the option to serve as an auxiliary power source in the case of a blackout. It sounds like science fiction, but during the aftermath of the earthquake the hybrid batteries in Estima hybrid MPVs were used as sources of electricity, generating enough energy to run household appliances on full power for two days.
Having recognised the potential benefits of this, Toyota will equip first Prius, Japan’s biggest-selling car, then all other Toyota hybrids with the same capability. A brilliant example of kaizen (continuous improvement) in motion.
Click here to read more about the Kokoro Hakobu Project and Toyota’s relief efforts in Japan.