Consultants on Toyota's smart city of the future: Woven City

18 January 2021 3 min. read

Toyota’s new Woven City in Japan will put the car manufacturing giant at the cutting edge of sustainable living and the new mobility paradigm. Consultants from L.E.K. Consulting and Mott MacDonald in Japan venture their opinions.

Situated at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan, Woven City is described by Toyota as a “living laboratory” – where full-time resident researchers will have a real world space to experiment with new technology in autonomy, robotics, personal mobility and smart homes. Also an example in sustainability: the city will be entirely powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

Collaborators from around the world are invited to contribute to the experiment. “Woven City will generate a huge amount of invaluable data for Toyota and its partners,” explained Ray Fujii, Managing Partner of L.E.K. Consulting in Japan, who spoke to Direct Industry.

Consultants on Toyota's smart city of the future: Woven City

smart city at its core: the entire urban ecosystem – residents, buildings, vehicles, etc – will be integrated, or ‘woven,’ into a single digitalised system, interacting with each other through sensors and data transmission. Many of the facilities are aimed at safe and assisted living for the elderly – the central demographic in Japan’s ageing population.

“This will be a fully controllable environment, with no private cars,” noted Fuji. Instead, deliveries and retail will be sustained via e-Palettes – customisable, autonomous driving vehicles that were originally designed for athletes coming to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. A flat, barrier-free interior layout allows a user to change the installations based on specific needs.

Pioneering technology aside, e-Palettes also represent the sustainable focus of the Woven City, which will reportedly comprise of energy-efficient wooden buildings. According to Masumi Okazaki, a Senior Principal Wind Energy at Mott MacDonald in Japan, the city is set to push forward the sustainability agenda in Japan – among the leading renewable energy markets in Asia.

“The integration of these technologies will eventually lead to the formation of a sustainable society in the region. Carbon neutrality, which Japan is targeting by 2050, will be realised in Woven City, which will be a touchstone for carbon net zero in Japan as a whole.”

Driving the future

As noted by Fuji, Woven City will provide much-needed data to build sustainable and technology-driven cities of the future. For Toyota, the experiment is a way to cement its place in this future.

“Toyota knows that it can’t just remain an assembler of automobiles. We’re about to experience a paradigm shift in autonomous driving and alternative energy vehicles. Woven City is not about the company becoming a smart home or city manufacturer. It’s about the company pioneering holistic mobility solutions,” said Fuji.

Yohei Ohashi – renewable energy engineer at Mott MacDonald in Japan – backed up this assessment. “Going forwards, the number of automobiles produced is expected to decrease due to multiple factors, including more stringent diesel car regulations. Toyota wants to evolve into a mobility company that sells transportation services. If Woven City is successful it should give the company a stronger future.”