Are you serious about this?
On January 6, 2020, just after announcing the Woven City project at CES in Las Vegas, Akio had the following talk with Toyota Times Editor-in-Chief Teruyuki Kagawa.
We’ve just heard you make a stunning announcement as the new year begins. This announcement really took me by surprise. Are you serious about this?
Well, having announced it in front of so many people, it’d be a bit of a problem if I was just kidding.
That would be a problem, yes.
Yes, it would. [Laughs]
So you’re serious about this, then?
I am. And now I have to do it, don’t I?
You do, don’t you?
I’ve got no choice.
It wasn’t long after this exchange that COVID-19 triggered lockdowns worldwide, putting freedom of mobility on hold for untold numbers of people. This marked an unexpected start for a project that Akio had reassured Kagawa he was serious about.
Nonetheless, one year later, in February 2021, Akio and his team proved that the dream of Woven City is coming true.
Message to partners for the future
On February 23, which is “Mt. Fuji Day” in Japan, a groundbreaking ceremony signaled the start of Woven City’s construction.
To commemorate the milestone, a Woven City video message for partners around the world collaborating for the future has been released.
Toyota Times is happy to share the video and Akio’s message in its entirety.
The video opens with the beauty of Mt. Fuji—an inspirational symbol of Woven City. Why is Toyota making a city? What are Akio and his team attempting with Woven City? Please watch the video to find out.
Akio video message
A little over a year ago, I was standing on a stage in Las Vegas, at CES, telling the world about a project we call Woven City.
Our dream was to create a place where people live, work and play in a real-world living laboratory.
A place where researchers, engineers and scientists, from around the world, could come together to test and develop new technologies, such as autonomy, robotics, AI… and more.
Well today… I’m happy to announce that our dream is well on its way to coming true… because we just broke ground on our Woven City site at the base of Mt. Fuji.
This groundbreaking ceremony was the result of a year of hard work and effort, made all the more difficult by the pandemic… and I would very much like to thank everyone involved.
It’s still hard to comprehend how much has changed in just the past year… and how many have suffered around the world.
Perhaps like me, it’s caused you to think about what’s most important in life… and how precious it truly is.
In fact, the challenges of this past year have made my determination to build the Woven City… even stronger.
As the CEO of Toyota, and the grandson of its founder, I have faced many challenges during my time here, from recessions, to recalls, to earthquakes and TSUNAMIS.
I have personally felt the pressure to live up to the expectations of my last name… and to keep Toyota thriving… both for my fellow countrymen… as well as our employees and customers around the world.
I am proud of what Toyota has become, and what it has contributed to the world so far… but I believe Toyota… can do more.
Now, more than ever, I believe that as a global society, we need to come together… to heal, to grow, to learn… and to create new possibilities for our collective future.
I realize that our dream is ambitious. I know there are skeptics… some even work for Toyota!
But I also know there are believers… people who want to make a real difference in the way we live… in how we care for the planet… in how we care for each other.
At Toyota we embrace the 17 sustainable development goals of the United Nations… and we hope the Woven City will provide a unique opportunity to create technology that will help achieve these goals.
And with your help… I believe we can. Many of you have already raised your hand… and for that, I want to thank you.
It’s only through partnership and collaboration that we will realize our dream of not just… mobility for all… but a better quality of life… for all.
In fact, if it were up to me… I would add an eighteenth goal to the SDG list: Happiness. Because no matter where we live, happiness is something we all desire, and we all deserve….
And I want this to be the goal and the guiding light for everything we build and create at the Woven City.
Over 80 years ago, my grandfather, Kiichiro, actually founded Toyota with a similar ambition.
He wanted to give the people of Japan, something that didn’t yet exist… a Japanese automobile.
Something that would improve their lives… and bring them happiness.
He also deeply believed that Toyota had a responsibility to contribute to society.
He may not have imagined how far around the world that responsibility would extend… but even now… the DNA of the Woven City… comes from him.
Ladies and gentlemen, I want to thank all of our Toyota customers and employees for their support… and through projects like the Woven City… I hope we can show our appreciation… in return.
This groundbreaking marks a very special new chapter in our story… in our industry… and in our future.
And here at the base of beautiful Mt. Fuji… I think it’s worth remembering… that every mountain top is within reach… if you just keep climbing.Thank you very much.
Akio follows his message by introducing Woven City team members.
Representing the team members are James Kuffner, CEO of Woven Planet Holdings, Daisuke Toyoda, Senior Vice President, and Bjarke Ingels, a Danish architect who is designing the city.
They explain the potential of Woven City from their perspectives, as well as share their passion for the project. Make sure to watch to the end!