Users Report Vol.122
Isuzu Plaza, Isuzu Motors Limited 

Established in April 2017, "Isuzu Plaza" Embodies Company's Contact Point with Clients and Local Community / DS to Experience Latest Technologies for Large Vehicles Built Up with UC-win/Road, Gaining Popularity

Isuzu Plaza, Isuzu Motors Limited
Location: Fujisawa-shi, Kanagawa
Services: Museum and community facility where visitors can have a bodily sensation of the history and motor vehicle production of Isuzu Motors

Mr. Hiroshi Nakao,
Assistant Deputy Director,
Isuzu Plaza,
Corporate Communications Dept.
Mr. Tadashi Konishi,
Professional Staff,
ITS Engineering Group,
AS Engineering Dept.

"In (examining) display planning of Isuzu Plaza (to be constructed), we thought that a simulator was indispensable (for allowing visitors in a wide range) to experience (part of our latest technologies)".

Isuzu Motors Limited (headquarters: Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo) opened "Isuzu Plaza" as part of the commemorative project of its 80th anniversary at the site adjacent to Fujisawa Plant (Fujisawa-shi, Kanagawa) in April 2017. Since the Plaza was planned, Mr. Hiroshi Nakao, Assistant Deputy Director, Isuzu Plaza, Corporate Communications Dept. has been taking responsibility for managing its whole design and display. Through discussion with experts in and outside the company, he has been trying to embody diverse ideas as effectively as possible. While exploring a method for exhibiting the latest technologies of large vehicles that are the Company's pride, utilization of simulators attracted attention.

About 10 minutes' ride by shuttle bus directly from Shonandai Station, Isuzu Plaza is situated to the east side of the vast site of Fujisawa Plant of the Company across the road. To its north is "PLAZA annex", which offers hotel and cafe (SAKURA Cafe) services, forming a complex community facility with functional and sophisticated design with the museum as its core.

Since it was planned in the beginning of 2014 to open the Plaza, Mr. Nakao has been examining a method for allowing visitors to experience driving large vehicles with safety and fuel efficiency as the keywords, along with Mr. Tadashi Konishi, who is Professional Staff, ITS Engineering Group, AS Engineering Dept., and other staff in charge of experiments and trial manufacture. By the end of 2015 when preparation was needed to speed up, they narrowed down to application of driving simulators (DS) based on "UC-win/Road", three-dimensional real-time VR produced by FORUM8, and constructed a new system by joint development with FORUM8.

For Providing Environments Where a Wide Variety of Visitors Can Enjoy and Grow Interest in Automobiles

"Generally, a motorcar museum has a lot of vehicles packed in. However, our museum takes a different approach to realize its concept of attracting a wide range of people."

The logo mark of the Plaza is formed by black letters reading "ISUZU PLAZA" and abstracted shapes of a truck, a bus, a pickup truck, and cityscape above the letters in the Company's corporate color "Isuzu red". This represents the concept that here is the contact point of society and ISUZU. In other words, it expresses its aim to be a place where not only car lovers but also all visitors from children to adults have fun and an opportunity to get interested in motorcars. It is obliged thoroughly for the involved interior designers, spatial designers, and illustrators to design everything using this logo mark. At the same time, importance is put on forming a space easy to look around, rather than packing cars into the space. Mr. Nakao, who is responsible for the direction of all the exhibits and design throughout the museum from the planning stage of the Plaza and has been involved in the booth design of motor shows for more than 10 years, explains that all of his knowhow has been compiled here.

In front of the logo of Isuzu Plaza
(left: Mr. Konishi, right: Mr. Nakao)
Chairs on the entrance floor
represent the logo in three dimensions

Isuzu Plaza consists of exhibit spaces on the ground and 2nd floors, and private spaces such as meeting rooms on the 3rd floor. The ground floor is laid out with a theme of "supporting transportation", while the 2nd floor with themes of "motor vehicle production of Isuzu" and "history of Isuzu". The DS developed jointly with FORUM8 is set up in the area to introduce "motor vehicle production of Isuzu". This area is set as a social-studies-trip course for fifth grade elementary students. It is positioned as one of the experiencing items by which visitors can learn about motor vehicle production from various angles with bodily sensations.

Unique Ideas Found Everywhere to Have Visitors Perceive Three Themes with Bodily Sensation

"For a wide range of people to come", the left side of the entrance hall on the ground floor of Isuzu Plaza stages a relaxed space "PIAZZA", where visitors can sit on multiple chairs, which represent motor vehicles and cityscape of the logo mark in three dimensions. The back wall presents the history related to the local city of Fujisawa and Fujisawa plant of the Company.

On the other hand, adjacent to the reception at the right back, the introductory display of "supporting transportation" starts. First of all, the oldest truck in existence "Wolseley CP truck" (designated as Heritage of Industrial Modernization by Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI)) is displayed (all vehicles displayed in the museum are preserved in working conditions). The following explanations are made in connection with this. 1) The Company was founded in 1916, when Tokyo Ishikawajima Shipbuilding and Engineering Co. and Tokyo Gas and Electric Industrial Co. planned motor vehicle production. It boasts of the oldest history in Japan as an automobile manufacturer. 2) Then after reorganization and name changing (including merge with DAT Automobile Manufacturing Inc. and changing its name into Automobile Industries Co., Ltd.), Tokyo Automobile Industries Co., Ltd., the predecessor of Isuzu Motors Ltd. was founded in 1937. This year sees the 81st anniversary.

Next comes "Time tunnel" formed along the route. On the wall of the passage, epoch-making vehicles and events are displayed with illustrations and photos including Japan's first domestically produced automobile, "Wolseley model A-9" (completed in 1922), name change from Wolseley to Sumida (1928), appearance of the "ELF" first generation model which would become the Company's bestseller truck (1959), the Company's first passenger car of house development "Bellel" (1961), the large-size sight-seeing bus "GALA" (released in 1996), and the heavy-duty truck "GIGA" (full-model change in 2015).

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The Company's epoch-making products are exhibited age by age.
Wolseley CP truck (right) is designated as Heritage of Industrial Modernization.

A highlight of introductory display (according to Mr. Nakao), "Miniature world: supporting transportation" is one of the largest dioramas in Japan. Pursuing reality, it was designed based on the idea of "God is in the details" to the fullest. In representing a day in an imaginary city in 15 minutes, more than 100 scenes are inlaid under the theme of "supporting transportation". 660 vehicles (some of them are vessels) including about 200 vehicles manufactured by the Company are placed. Among them, each of 45 vehicles (43 cars and 2 vessels) travels fully automatically and turns back to the charging station by itself. They are all fabricated on the same scale. It is supposed to be the only one diorama in Japan that has vehicles travelling on it.

"Miniature world: supporting transportation" depicts a day in an imaginary city "Isuzu city",
where the Company's various vehicles travel

The next is the corner where visitors can touch or ride Isuzu's latest model of bus, light-duty trucks, medium-duty trucks, heavy-duty trucks and tractors, SUV (sport-utility vehicle) manufactured and sold overseas. Industrial engines for construction machinery and vessels (ships) are also displayed together.

Since the area of "motor vehicle production of Isuzu" is set as a social-studies trip course for 5th graders, exhibits and images are basically all composed of experiencing items assuming comparatively low points of view.

First of all, at the corner to learn how to manufacture a truck, as many as 13,000 parts of a truck are visualized by comparing them in forms of 2D design drawings and 3D CG simulation. It is so devised that visitors can understand the production line and mechanism of trucks through miniature models (as small as 1/20 of the actual size), images, and real things. Visitors can also experience the production process of trial manufacture, experiments, press, and coating, as well as operation support (preventive maintenance) to keep on "transportation". The section of driving simulators (DS) based on UC-win/Road is also one of the most important part in this area. DS has been introduced here in relation to CSR (corporate social responsibility), providing an opportunity for visitors to experience the Company's new technologies.

The third area "History of Isuzu" is roughly composed of "preceding famous cars" and "history of technology". The former presents vintage vehicles with the historical backdrop based on the Company's origin that dates back to the end of the Edo period. They include "Sumida Type M Bus" which is restored and the only working Japan's domestically produced omnibus existing in Japan, "TX80 type truck" which was active in the post-war years of recovery, the ELF first generation model which supported the high economic growth period, "Bellel" which is the first Japanese diesel passenger car of Isuzu's first in-house design, Chevrolet's pickup truck "LUV" that the Company sold in collaboration with General Motors (GM) for the first time in Japan, and "Gemini" which was developed under the first “world car” plan etc. The latter "history of technology" shows the history of diesel engine technology and successive representative real engines. It also displays a chronological table to look back the Company history using 110 miniature cars. 86 of them are handmade on a scale of 1:43 based on data. There is also a section to introduce "FD-SI", the concept of light-duty truck of "Future Delivery" designed by ISUZU, which was exhibited in the 45th Tokyo Motor Show 2017.

The end of the tour is the temporary project exhibition area. When I visited the Plaza in the end of June, memorial exhibitions of "117-Coupe" and "Isuzu Plaza" were held. The former commemorates the 50th anniversary from its release, and the latter the 1st anniversary from its opening on April 11, 2017. The number of visitors to the Plaza exceeded 100,000 in accumulating total in June 6.

Process of Embodying DS and Current Use

It was early 2014 when establishment of Isuzu Plaza was planned. Mr. Nakao, who had been involved with car design for many years, took charge in direction of its all designs and exhibitions since they started to plan the Plaza. In such early stages, a working group was formed to deal with various projects, in which an opinion arose that a simulator was necessary. It was requested to examine use of simulators for exhibiting advanced technologies about safety and environment that the Company works on with Mr. Konishi as a core person.

"First, we had discussion within (WG) members and made a rough concept about a simulator to allow people to experience advanced safety technologies with a large truck, with another content to do something about fuel efficiency."

Later, when there was nothing but outline drawings of the building, with no information about the space where they would be installed or how many simulators would be installed, they made research for realizing this concept. They visited multiple companies to see their products and repeated discussion with them. Then in 2015, they decided to collaborate with FORUM8 for its wide-ranging business performance on simulators etc., as Mr. Konishi looks back.

They developed a simulator jointly based on UC-win/Road DS. It allows two ways of experience having a game feeling: experience of the advanced safety devices while driving a large vehicle, and that of travelling with focus on mileage (fuel efficiency). When a user selects either of Eco and Safety experience courses, fastens the seat belt, and releases the parking brake, DS starts. The Safety experience course realistically reproduces advanced safety devices actually mounted in the Company's commercial vehicles, such as the lane departure warning system and the collision damage mitigation braking system. Moreover, regarding high point of view peculiar to large vehicles, steering angle, the working condition of the brake, and the turning radius differential, they made fine adjustment over and over again until the delivery limit to realize bodily sensation as close as possible to a real car. For example, the Eco experience course that uses an originally created road that goes from Shonandai to Enoshima, or the Safety experience course with a road created using the existing data of UC-win/Road DS shows specific evaluation and rank for each driving operation when the user reaches the goal within a given period of time.

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"Eco experience course" reproduces the local road. The driver travels from Shonandai to Enoshima passing the Isuzu Plaza.
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"Safe driving experience course" realistically reproduces high point of view peculiar to large vehicles, steering, braking, and the turning radius differential. With many frequent visitors,
DS driving experience is most popular.

In the Plaza, 3 units of the DS are on permanent exhibition (2 of which were exhibited in the Tokyo Motor Show 2017 only during the show period). They are the most popular items especially for children. There are many frequent visitors. They are so popular that there's a line on Saturdays even after one year and more has passed. Also, during the Tokyo Motor Show, about 2,000 visitors used the DS during the period of 2 weeks. What’s more, Mr. Nakao says that they receive inquiries about the DS from domestic and foreign venders.

"As our technologies of safety and fuel-efficiency ought to evolve continuously, we think someday we will have to change DS. On that occasion, we would like to work together for various things so that we can embody objects more realistically."

(Written by Takashi Ikeno)
(Up&Coming '18 Summer issue)