Section 1. Development of Diverse Vehicle Lineup and Expansion of Domestic Sales
Item 2. New Technologies and Expansion of R&D Bases
Expansion of Engineering Group and establishment of Shibetsu Proving Ground
With this focus on product development, the facilities and number of staff members of Toyota's Engineering Group grew year by year, and in October 1981 the company constructed its Technical Building No. 10. By utilizing of the latest computer-aided-design drawing tools1, the time taken from initial design to body design was reduced significantly. Although the number of employees in the Engineering Group had increased rapidly in the 1970s due to the company's efforts to reduce emissions, Toyota hired more than twice the usual number of new engineers in 1980 and 1981.
Meanwhile, in response to the increasing exports of vehicles to countries with a diverse range of climates and the need for performance testing at high speeds, construction began of the Shibetsu Proving Ground in Shibetsu City, Hokkaido. Requirements for the candidate location were at least 15 days a year of temperatures minus 20 degrees (Celsius) or lower, two months or more with at least 50 cm of accumulated snow, and a straight at least 3 km long to perform high speed testing. With the cooperation of Shibetsu City, in May 1982 Toyota purchased approximately 5 million square meters of land in Onnebetsu-cho, one of the locations that met the requirements. The first phase of test course construction began with facilities including a 5 km cold weather circuit, which was completed in October 1984. Construction of a subsequent 10 km circuit was completed in 1987, and all originally planned facilities were completed in 1992. The company also purchased land for expansion in 1992, bringing the total area of the Shibetsu Proving Ground to 9.3 million square meters.