Toyota has been criticised in Japan for its plans to build a new research facility on mountains and 691 acres of 17th century rice paddies.
Green campaigners argue that the new facility goes against Toyota’s environmentally friendly image. The Japanese firm has worked hard to promote itself as a major player in eco-friendly cars, including launching the Prius.
Shigemi Oda, chairman of the environmental pressure group SCLSDP, said: “Most people think of Toyota as an environmentally friendly company. Crushing mountains is environmentally destructive.”
New Toyota president Akio Toyoda wants to test new cars himself at the proposed new research facility in Shimoyama village, a 30-minute drive from Toyota City. It will feature around six miles of road courses.
Toyota has reportedly paid 32billion yen (£200million) for the land, and it is working with land developer Aichi Prefecture to decide on its plans.
A Toyota statement said: “The Aichi Prefecture, in co-operation with Toyota, is now talking with NGO's and specialists to assess the impact of this centre on the area. Based on the outcome of these assessments, further decisions will be taken.”