Section 4. Construction of the Automotive Department Assembly Plant and Koromo Plant
Item 2. Selection of the Koromo Plant Site and Development of the Construction Plan
Toyoda Automatic Loom Works made a formal decision to enter the automotive business on September 1, 1933 and began researching plant sites in order to construct a full-fledged automobile production plant. Kiichiro Toyoda focused on the Kariya-cho, Hekikai-gun area and investigated the neighboring Odaka-cho, Chita-gun, Higashiura-cho, and Koromo-cho, Nishikamo-gun, among other sites.
Koromo-cho selected as the plant site because of the following advantages that it offered:
- 1.The site was located in an expansive, barren plain known as Ronchigahara where nearly two million square meters of land could be acquired at low cost.1
- 2.Transfer of production facilities and materials was possible using the Mikawa Railway (now the Meitetsu Mikawa Line of Nagoya Railroad Co., Ltd.). In addition, the site had firm ground suitable for plant construction as well as ample, high-quality subterranean water (the underflow of the Yahagi River).
- 3.Abundant electricity generated from hydroelectric power on the Yahagi River system was available, and inexpensive electricity could be obtained from Yahagi Hydroelectric Company.
- 4.The Koromogahara Airfield, which was built in Tsuchihashi, was convenient for the aircraft business.2
With regard to the fourth of these points, when the Koromo Plant was completed in November 1938, Toyota Motor Co. Ltd. established an Aircraft Research Department, hired Bunzaburo Kataoka3 and one other employee on May 6, 1939, and began helicopter research. In light of the research results including testing of prototype propellers using the Koromogahara Airfield, it seems likely that the presence of the airfield was a major factor in selecting the site.
In November 1933, Toyoda Automatic Loom Works requested that Koromo-cho Mayor Juichi Nakamura act on its behalf for the purchase of the land. In July of the following year, the Koromo-cho Council established a committee to induce companies to construct plants in the region. The land purchase negotiations proceeded with some difficulty, but in December of 1935, Toyoda Automatic Loom Works acquired approximately two million square meters at a total cost of 228,611.64 yen.
A plan to construct a plant on 660,000 square meters (approximately one-third of the site) was adopted, and following a ground-breaking ceremony on December 14, 1935, land preparation operations began. The work of designing an integrated production plant that could produce a total of 2,000 vehicles per month-500 passenger cars and 1500 trucks-also started. The design of each specialized facility of the plant was assigned to manufacturing specialists, with the foundry assigned to Umeji Harada and Shigekatsu Ikeda4, the forging and thermal processing shop assigned to Shoichi Saito, the machining shop assigned to Jiro Iwaoka and Chihiro Shima5, the stamping and body shop assigned to Takeaki Shirai6, the painting and plating shop assigned to Fujinobu Kimura, the assembly shop assigned to Chihiro Shima, and the testing and research facility assigned to Fujinobu Kimura. Most of the plant designers were engineers in their 20s.
Takatoshi Kan7, Shoichi Saito, and Eiji Toyoda reviewed the design drawings prepared by the designers and prepared proposal. The design drawings for the entire plant were completed in January 1937, and a briefing was held to explain the bidding process.