Forget the fact that I lived in Japan and absolutely love its culture, I didn’t know that Toyota had a homes unit.  And they’ve been in the business of making homes for over twenty years!  The company adapts automobile manufacturing technology to build stylish, earthquake-resistant homes for sale within Japan.  The Toyota Homes unit accounts for only .5% of the company’s $262 billion in annual sales, and Toyota would like to beef that up a little bit.  Plus, with the roll-out of the plug-in hybrid beginning in 2010 (remember all that discussion here about solar homes and plug-in hybrids replacing gas stations?), Toyota would like to do more with their environmentally-friendly, prefabricated homes. 

According to the Wall Street Journal, Toyota Homes are built from six or more modules in under 45 days.  They have a conservative home model called the Smart Stage that sells for $200k.  It’s about a 1000 sf, two-story home.  There’s also a more expensive, custom-built 2600 sf home that sells for around $800k.  Toyota Homes are strong and guaranteed for about 60 years, which is twice the average lifespan of a home in Japan. 

As you might imagine, homeowners are also Toyota car owners. 

The company sold 5000 homes in 2006 and 4600 homes in 2007 (due to the housing slump).  But what’s interesting about that number is that it shows how effectively homes can be manufactured using the same techniques that are used in the auto industry.  And the Toyota Homes unit is profitable, too.  That’s some pretty incredible scale, if you ask me. 

Plus, imagine the purposeful relationship of a plug-in Prius, Toyota Home with solar panels, and technology that charges the car during off-peak hours.  If you can do this, you’re not only going to stick it to the oil man, but you’re going to stick it to the coal man, too.  I like those odds. 

[+] Toyota Throws More Weight Behind Homes Unit [WSJ]






Photo credits: Toyota Home Japan & Toyota Home Tokyo.