Toyotas of the future should be lighter, quicker, cheaper to build and better to drive, according to Mitsuhisa Kato, member of the Toyota board. Unveiling a new platform strategy, which will underpin all new Toyota models starting with the next generation Prius in 2015, Kato said it was intended as a way of “making ever better cars.”
The new Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) is a response to the wave of safety recalls which have engulfed the company’s products in the last decade as well as increasing competition from Japanese rival Honda and stiff competition from Ford and GM in the US.
The new shared common-platform strategy is similar to that used by Volkswagen, Renault’s Dacia brand and Volvo, with Toyota defining a common hip point driver seating position, which allows a similar set of body pressings around the footwell and bulkhead across similar models. It means that similarly sized cars such as the C-segment Corolla, Prius and Auris will share development paths sharing under-the-skin designs and componentry.
Kato says this will save up to 30 per cent on development time and cost (although he says mechanical systems will also have longer production lives) as well as reducing the weight and bulk. He estimates total cost savings at “between 15 and 20 percent and maybe further and the savings will be reinvested in product development.”
Kato also says that TNGA will help lower the height of the centre of gravity of Toyota cars, which has been getting lower across the industry. He says that Toyota cars had been lagging in this respect with subsequent detrimental effects on handling.
“TNGA will set performance targets,” he says, citing a need to make the cars “ride, turn, and stop” better. It will also allow a degree of “personalisation” for cars across the regions, with cars specially developed for China, North USA, Latin America, SE Asia, Japan and Europe using similar core segments.