You won't find an assembly line here.
The Mazda2-based Toyota Yaris hatchback and sedan are dead in the US, but the Yaris nameplate lives on overseas. This version of the Yaris won't be sold here though that could change because of one specific variant, the GR Yaris hot hatchback. GR, of course, stands for Gazoo Racing, and this is no ordinary Yaris. Powered by a turbocharged 1.6-liter three-cylinder with a maximum of 268 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque, the GR Yaris is apparently so special that it has its own dedicated factory in Japan.
Automotive News claims it is the "first international news outlet allowed to visit the new factory" and it came away with some juicy details you need to know about. For starters, the new factory is simply called the GR Factory and only 314 people, referred to as takumi (master craftsmen), work there. These people were all hand-selected from other Toyota factories because of their advanced skills.
Those skills are required because there is no traditional vehicle assembly line, but rather "work cells." It is there were these takumi "handle multiple processes in quick succession more efficiently than on a mass-volume line." The cars are actually "shuffled between stations by workers pulling them on dollies." Amazingly, even though the factory builds only one model (for now) it's not losing any money. But hang on! 'What do you mean by just one vehicle right now?'
The report suggests this factory will probably be later assigned to build the rumored GR Corolla, which might come to the US. Think of the GR Yaris build process as sort of a practice run for future high-performance GR vehicles.
The Japanese automaker appears to be very confident in its solo factory decision as CEO Akio Toyoda, himself an accomplished racing driver, inaugurated its opening last week at a ceremony where he drove a GR Yaris through particleboard as Deep Purple's "Highway Star" played. Toyota's investment in what could easily be considered a niche model is very impressive. Often times, this level of vehicle commitment is reserved for ultra-expensive halo models.
Still, the GR Yaris isn't exactly cheap. In Germany, it'll carry a starting price of €33,200, or around $37,000. The 2020 Honda Civic Type R also goes for about the same amount, but it's larger and has five doors, not three.
Have fun with this three-door pocket rocket, you guys. Drive the hell out of it.