In an effort to generate interest in cars among children--future customers--Toyota Motor Corp. has redesigned the Mega Web, its interactive showroom in Tokyo's Odaiba district, as an aspiring automobile theme park.
Packed with entertainment, the complex features an electric vehicle (EV) driving course for kids and a driving simulator in which a tablet computer serves as the steering wheel.
Mega Web, which first opened in 1999, is one of Japan's leading automobile showrooms and has drawn a total of 80 million visitors.
The chance to test-drive new vehicles had been the facility's main appeal. But as young people are increasingly losing interest in cars, Toyota decided to give Mega Web a makeover that would help instill in youngsters a familiarity with automobiles.
On the new indoor course, children can drive EVs. Traffic signals and crosswalks are placed along the roughly 230-meter-long route, so the youngsters can learn the real rules of the road. Rides are free through the end of this year, after which they will cost 300 yen ($3) for every 15 minutes.
Other free-to-play amusement includes a Suzuka Circuit driving game mounted with the hit video game Gran Turismo and a driving simulator that lets the player traverse the world's continents.
As many foreign tourists also visit Odaiba, Toyota has set up a vehicle exhibition corner for its overseas models and has Chinese and English-speaking staff on hand at all times.
Shigeru Hayakawa, Toyota's senior managing officer, said, "We want visitors from overseas and the children who will lead us in the future to experience tons of fun through cars."
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