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Inside Toyota's magic kingdom

Inside Toyota's magic kingdom

Toyota's über-efficient manufacturing practices have attracted a lot of interest over the past few years. Concepts such as 'just in time' supply-chain management and bottom-up innovation, together with the success of the Prius hybrid have helped the Japanese automaker maintain consistent growth at a time when many of its rivals are struggling with decreasing sales.

CNET's Michael Kanellos recently visited one of Toyota's 10 factories in its eponymous Toyota City to see how it all works in practice: what he found was a stranger-than-fiction high-tech industrial utopia, complete with motorized tool trays that follow workers around, ceiling-mounted people-movers, and a trumpet-playing robot. He also got a close-up look at some of the weird and wonderful concept vehicles that Toyota is working on. Check out his article and slide show here.