Exterior photo of toyota building

With an increasingly diverse selection of options becoming available to them, a growing number of Canadian consumers are opting for hybrid versions of the models best suited to their lifestyle. 

You’re bound to have noticed a spike in hybrid vehicles on the road and companies like Toyota Canada Inc. (TCI) have reported record sales of electrified vehicles during the first half of 2021. 

Tony Kelly has been with TCI for more than 30 years and has experienced the shift in demand first-hand. As the vice-president of customer services, he says, “We try to keep the customer and the customers’ demands and what the customers expect and want at the centre of everything we do. We’re fortunate to have a very loyal customer base built up over many years, so we tend to innovate based on where our customers want us to go, and when they want us to go there. We’ve been leaders in a lot of technology; we’ve been producing hybrid technology vehicles and alternative all-terrain vehicles for over 20 years now, so we’ve got leadership in many of these different technologies.”

Since February 2021, electrified vehicles have accounted for more than 27 percent of TCI’s sales and the company is committed to offering Canadians an electrified option of every model they sell. TCI’s goal is to have electrified vehicles represent 40 percent of overall sales, and they intend to reach this goal by 2025.
Their broader goal, Toyota’s global 2050 Environmental Challenge, aims to go beyond zero environmental impact and achieve a net positive impact by 2050. With this goal in mind, they are not only dedicated to eliminating almost all CO2 emissions from their new vehicles, but also from their operations.

This commitment is showcased in their new 350,000-square-foot Eastern Canada Parts Distribution Centre (ECPDC), which has been awarded Zero Carbon Building – Design™ Certification by the Canada Green Building Council. Built on a 30-acre parcel of land in Bowmanville, Ont., the ECPDC employs nearly 150 people and serves Toyota and Lexus dealerships from Manitoba to Newfoundland.

TCI landed on Bowmanville as the home of their new state-of-the-art facility after extensive research and an exhaustive search of the Greater Toronto Area. Kelly says there were a number of factors that led them to this geographic area and specific plot of land, ranging from the sheer space required, transportation routes and dealership and customer locations. They also took the work-life balance of their team members into consideration — the majority live east of the original Scarborough facility. “We talked to many of the different communities in the area and we found that the folks in Clarington were really hospitable, very welcoming, very accommodating and pretty much answered all of the questions that we needed to help us make that decision,” says Kelly. “When you put all of those things together, it just made sense for us to locate there.”

The ECPDC was strategically designed from the inside out, with every detail seen as an opportunity to innovate and improve. Some of the sustainability features include a carefully selected site to minimize impact on local waterways and ecosystems, non-evasive and low-maintenance landscaping, geothermal heating to reduce reliance on emission-producing fuels, self-dimming glass to reduce the need for cooling, and a cistern to supply the building’s low-flow toilets with rain or snow collected from its roof, resulting in more than 325,000 litres of water saved each year.

Man in toyota factory picking out parts
3 men in toyota factory picking out parts and outting it into bins

There were a number of factors that led TCI to this geographic area and specific plot of land, ranging from the sheer space required, transportation routes and dealership and customer locations.

Designing and developing a building of this nature was no small feat. “There were a lot of engineers involved, and a lot of really smart people who had to work across non-traditional boundaries, different trades and different disciplines who didn’t normally work together. They had to see how one technology would complement the other and how it would all work together,” says Kelly.

On top of being one of the most environmentally sustainable buildings of its kind in North America, the ECPDC is also one of the most physically accessible, having received the Rick Hansen Foundation’s “Gold” level accessibility certification. The facility includes features such as extra-wide accessible parking spaces, hallways and washroom stalls, push-bottom doors and motion-controlled lighting, telescopic adjustable desks and podiums, and an elevator and stairwells designed to be accessible to everyone. As a company whose vision is mobility for all, it seems they’ve got their tires on the right track.

“Vehicles are a constant evolution, and the technology in our vehicles will continuously move toward our goal that’s been mapped out, but we had a unique opportunity to build this building now,” says Kelly. “We learned so much about the technology and what could be achieved — it was quite amazing. But it was also ground-breaking. The construction industry had to play catch up a little bit with what we wanted to do here, so it was a lot of learning on all our parts to get to this standard and this level, but certainly worth doing. We’re seeing the benefits and we’re very proud of what we built here. You cannot go back and retrofit this technology into older buildings, not easily anyway, and certainly not without a lot of disruption, so it was worth the effort for us to go ahead and do it now.”

The ECPDC has been a welcome addition to the community and as Bonnie Wrightman, manager of business development with the Clarington Board of Trade says, “The Clarington Board of Trade is grateful to have been able to be part of the team dedicated to working alongside Toyota Canada during their transition from Scarborough to their new Bowmanville location. Toyota Canada is not only a leader in community stewardship by contributing to the extension of Clarington’s Soper Creek Trail system, it’s an industry leader through its commitment to environmental sustainability and dedication to inclusion through physical accessibility. We look forward to continuing to support its growth and integration into the Clarington community for years to come.”

Toyota’s not done yet, and whether it’s the solar panels that are set to be installed or looking into putting beehives in to improve pollination in the area, TCI plans to continuously support and improve the community in which they live and work. As Kelly explains, “It’s part of who we are as a company. You know, it’s the right thing to do, to protect the environment in which we all live, to protect it for future generations. It’s not just a Canadian or a Clarington thing, it’s part of our global focus. In everything we do, we always focus on what would be the impact of doing it or not doing it, and making those business decisions as we go, but you can simply sum it up as the right thing to do at the right time. And we will see the benefits of it, and the community will see the benefits of it into the future.”

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