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Thursday, December 7, 2023

Ideas for social issues, community revitalization, and traffic safety are invited at the circuit.

The Toyota Mobility Fund has launched "Make a More PROJECT," an idea contest aimed at realizing a "better mobility society. The contest features a system where individuals and organizations active in diverse fields compete with their ideas and solutions, and depending on their efforts, can increase the amount of funds available to support their activities. The contest also fosters a community where participants can connect with each other to generate innovation on a sustainable basis. The theme of this year's call for entries is "Fun & Safety - Safe and most enjoyable experience. We spoke with Mr. Fukuda of the Toyota Mobility Fund and Mr. Kumakubo, representative of Ebisu Circuit in Fukushima Prefecture, to learn more about the various ideas and solutions being sought at the circuit.

Fun & Safety - Safe and most enjoyable experience

What is the Toyota Mobility Fund?

rice field used to grow crops The Toyota Mobility Fund ("TMF") was established by Toyota Motor Corporation in 2014. The TMF works to solve mobility issues around the world through a wide range of projects in order to realize a more prosperous society through mobility.

Specifically, we are working to "eliminate negative elements of cars" such as accidents, traffic congestion, and environmental pollution; "realize opportunities" such as expanding employment and career options, going to school, and receiving emergency medical care; "eliminate inconveniences" such as lack of public transportation; and "realize dreams, surprises, and joys" such as seeing scenery and meeting many people for the first time. We are also working to "realize dreams, surprises and joys" of seeing new sights and meeting new people.

Among other things, this year's idea contest is looking for ideas and solutions that can lead to social issues, community revitalization, and traffic safety through initiatives that "realize dreams, surprises, and joys.

In an area where buses and trains are disappearing and even fewer people are coming, and economic viability cannot be guaranteed, no matter how much cutting-edge technology is introduced, it will not be a sustainable initiative. Since the circuit is located in a sparsely populated area, we would like to increase the number of visitors by using the circuit as a stage for initiatives that put the "joy of mobility" at the forefront.

Outline of the Idea Contest

With the concept of "creating a better mobility society," we hope to work with many people to solve social issues and create a future where people can live with smiles on their faces.

The first round of the contest, under the theme of "Mobility for ALL - The Possibility of Mobility for All," called for ideas for a world in which everyone can move freely and be themselves. The ideas that passed the first round, which are for people with disabilities to enjoy racing, will be tested in a race at Okayama International Circuit.

The theme of this second round is "Fun & Safety - Safe and most enjoyable experience. We are looking for proposals that will allow people to enjoy motorsports, apply motorsports technology and know-how to traffic safety, and enhance the attractiveness of the region of Fukushima Prefecture where the Ebisu Circuit, the stage for this year's competition, is located.

We will invite the public to join us in early August to foster teams to tackle social issues, and ultimately provide funds for up to four teams to implement their projects. We are eager to work hard on the best ideas and solutions.

Teams may be formed through collaboration among applicants!

rice field used to grow crops I think there is also the formation of a team with a mix of applicants. For example, if a team is made up of those with cutting-edge technology, those who can conduct market research, and those who have the ability to communicate, it will bring us closer to social implementation. We would like to contribute to the creation of a community that tackles social issues through flexible team formation.

The stage for innovation is the "Ebisu Circuit" in Fukushima Prefecture.

Features of Ebisu Circuit

Kumakubo (city) Ebisu Circuit is a small circuit located in the countryside of Fukushima Prefecture, which opened in 1988 as an asphalt circuit track. Its distinctive feature is that, under the subtitle "Kuruma no Amusement Park," it brings foreign motorsports to Japan and combines motorsports from different fields.

Over the years, we have studied motorsports and have been visited by various circuit officials from Japan and abroad. In addition, since it is physically difficult to hold large races, we are in the process of transforming the facility into a training gym for those who "play with cars," like training drivers by taking advantage of the 10 tracks.

The concept is a training gym for people who play with cars.

Kumakubo (city) Originally, the Ebisu Circuit was featured in the media as a rare circuit overflowing with foreign visitors every day, but the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011 caused sales to drop by 80%, making it difficult to continue.

Later, one of the courses was rendered unusable by a landslide caused by an earthquake, and we were affected by the Corona disaster, which made it impossible for us to do what we wanted to do financially. So, with a flexible change of direction, we are now implementing various initiatives as a training gym for Kuruma-players.

In this idea contest, we will explore what we can do as a circuit, including what we cannot achieve on our own, and we would be happy if we can also link this to motor sports tourism in Fukushima Prefecture.

Why did TMF team up with Ebisu Circuit?

rice field used to grow crops This is because it is a cutting-edge circuit that has undergone a wide range of initiatives and reforms, such as boldly remodeling the course and training a variety of people through motorsports, even though it was severely damaged by the earthquake. We would like to work together with them.

The causes of accidents, and applying the knowledge of professionals who have been pursuing the causes of accidents to improve the driving techniques of the general public

What kind of individuals or startups would you like to collaborate with?

rice field used to grow crops For example, an individual or startup could have the technology to evaluate "good driving". Professional drivers understand that "knowing how fun it is to drive a car is the key to traffic safety," but there is no technology to reflect that know-how on public roads. So it would be nice to have technologies, solutions, and ideas that can be implemented in society.

Kumakubo (city) When an accident occurs on a circuit, the cause of the accident is pursued and resolved, so people with circuit experience can see the "preliminary army of traffic accidents" when driving on ordinary roads. If such know-how from motorsports could be converted into data and an "application that can search for preliminary traffic accidents" could be developed, I think it would lead to a broad improvement in driving skills.

In terms of improving driving skills, there are some driving styles that have been handed down from one region to another, such as "people in Hokkaido are good at driving on snowy roads" or "people in Europe are good at driving at high speeds. It would be great if we could link such data to skillful driving that does not cause accidents.

In addition, although cars that do not cause accidents and cars that do not cause carsickness have not yet been developed, we know that the mechanisms of accidents and carsickness are similar. I would be happy to see technologies and ideas that can spread "cool driving that does not make passengers intoxicated" by making use of such know-how and knowledge that we in motorsports have.

In any case, we are looking forward to receiving ideas from people who have never visited the circuit, opinions from a completely different perspective than ours, and suggestions on how to use the circuit in ways we can't even imagine.

rice field used to grow crops Since Ebisu Circuit is also working with extreme sports to revitalize the community, we would like to receive ideas in the area of extreme sports x community revitalization.

Kumakubo (city) That's right. Fukushima Prefecture, where the Ebisu Circuit is located, is also a concentration of extreme sports, providing an environment for air racing, jet skiing, skateboarding, motor sports, snowboarding, and more.

In fact, some of the world's top extreme sports players train and base themselves in Fukushima Prefecture, so Fukushima Prefecture is a rare place where you can experience the world's top extreme sports within an hour's drive.

We look forward to hearing your ideas on how we can leverage these strengths to promote tourism in Fukushima Prefecture, as well as ideas on how we can connect these strengths to traffic safety.

name of companyEbisu Circuit Co.
Establishment1986
Location1 Sawamatsukura, Nihonmatsu City, Fukushima Prefecture
representativeNobushige Kumakubo, President and Representative Director
Business OverviewTen courses are located in the highland area at the foot of Mt. Various events are held
uniform resouce locatorhttps://www.ebisu-circuit.com
name of companyToyota Mobility Fund
EstablishmentAugust 2014
Location4-18, Koraku 1-chome, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo (in Toyota Tokyo Headquarters)
representativeChairman of the Board Akio Toyoda, President and Representative Director, Toyota Motor Corporation
Business OverviewConduct various activities in Japan and overseas to contribute to the realization of a prosperous mobility society and the elimination of mobility disparities in the areas related to the movement of people and goods.
uniform resouce locatorhttps://toyotamobilityfoundation.jp
interviewee
Mr. Nobushige Kumakubo President and Representative Director, Ebisu Circuit Co.
Born in 1970, age 52. He started motocross racing in elementary school and joined Ebisu Circuit in 1992. Since 2000, he has been promoting drifting, which originated in Japan, to the world by putting on drifting shows all over the world. Currently, he is focusing on training drivers in various categories using drifting driving techniques, and his goal is to turn Ebisu Circuit into a comprehensive motorsports training gym.
interviewee
Mr. Masaru Fukuda Program General Manager, Toyota Mobility Fund

Age 54, he joined Toyota Motor Corporation in 1990 and has been in his current position since 2017. He enjoys motorsports and has attended driving schools at circuits for many years and has participated in introductory races.

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Tomomi Tamura
He joined Snow Brand Milk Industry in 2000. He then worked for an advertising agency and as a sole proprietor before joining BizReach in 2012. Engaged in content creation, he joined NewsPicks in 2016 as an editor on the BrandDesign team, and is now a freelance writer and editor.
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