Akio Toyoda started studying auto design under a veteran stylist at Toyota Motor Corp.’s creative studio in Japan four years before becoming president of the carmaker in 2009. He may have realized back then that Toyota’s strengths could be undermined by the bland design of its models. By the time Toyoda became Toyota’s top honcho, he was obsessed in introducing sexier styling onto its offerings.
He has tasked Toyota’s global design chief, Tokuo Fukuichi, to rework the carmaker’s style. Indeed, new design elements have started to be impressed into Toyota’s lineup since it launched its Auris hatchback in 2012.
Consumers, however, have to wait until 2015 to take a complete view of Toyota’s new design, when the carmaker is set to roll out the next-generation Prius, which according to Fukuichi will be a turning point. The next generation Prius will be the first car based on Toyota's new modular product development strategy.
In a Sept. 3 interview with Automotive News, Fukuichi said the overhaul is “very important,” noting that people didn’t see their designs as emotional. He admitted that compared with the designs of their competitors, Toyota’s “weren’t distinctive." Fukuichi will be responsible for molding Toyota's new design to its new modular product development strategy, known as TNGA, for Toyota New Global Architecture.
A design makeover, however, involves some risks since TNGA looks to massive use of common parts, which means that any styling blunders would be carried over to other vehicles in Toyota’s lineup. Fukuichi, however, is confident that he has a winning formula, with design unity becoming a positive byproduct of using common parts.