January 6, 2020 / 10:47 PM / 22 days ago

Toyota to build prototype city of the future in Japan

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) said on Monday it plans to build a prototype “city of the future” at the base of Japan’s Mt. Fuji, powered by hydrogen fuel cells and functioning as a laboratory for autonomous cars, “smart homes,” artificial intelligence and other technologies.

Akio Toyoda (L), president of Toyota Motor Corporation, and Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, CEO of Bjarke Ingels Group, pose at a news conference where Toyota announced plans to build a prototype city of the future on a 175-acre site at the base of Mt. Fuji in Japan, during the 2020 CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. January 6, 2020. REUTERS/Steve Marcus

Toyota unveiled the plan at CES, the big technology industry show. The development, to be built at the site of a factory that is planned to be closed, will be called “Woven City” - a reference to Toyota’s start as a loom manufacturing company - and will serve as a home to full-time residents and researchers.

Toyota did not disclose costs for the project.

Executives at many major automakers have talked about how cities of the future could be designed to cut climate-changing emissions from vehicles and buildings, reduce congestion and apply internet technology to everyday life. But Toyota’s plan to build a futuristic community on 175 acres (71 hectares)near Mt. Fuji is a big step beyond what rivals have proposed.

The proposal highlights not only Toyota Chief Executive Akio Toyoda’s ambition, but also the financial and political resources Toyota can bring to bear, especially in its home country.

Toyota expects 2,000 people will live at the city initially, with construction slated to start next year. Toyoda called the project “my personal ‘field of dreams.’

“You know if you build it, they will come.”

Toyota said it has commissioned Danish architect Bjarke Ingels to design the community. Ingels’ firm designed the 2 World Trade Centre building in New York and Google’s offices in Silicon Valley and London.

Toyota said it is open to partnerships with other companies that want to use the project as a testing ground for technology.

(This story corrects paragraph 2 to show factory has not closed yet.)

Reporting by Jane Lanhee Lee and David Shepardson; Writing by Joe White; Editing by Dan Grebler

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