Toyota wants to revamp its design language

Article by Christian Andrei, on December 9, 2011

Future Toyota models will have a significantly different styling and design under a plan that was conceptualized in late 2010 by company president Akio Toyoda. Tokuo Fukuichi was tasked by Toyoda to take over as the design group’s chief officer and to “short circuit” Toyota’s present design processes to try to produce models in the future that are “much more characterful.”

Fukuichi has been heading the development of several new Toyota models, one of which is the impressive 1989 Previa MPV.

In an Autocar interview, Fukuichi said that he was asked to go back to Toyota to make “cool cars” for Toyota and Lexus. He said that one obstacle for the future is the hybrid cars’ styling, which has to take the image of “eco and fun, not just eco.”

Fukuichi went on to explain what to expect from Toyota’s complicated design process. He said that the problem is that is its cars have “good proportions” but they don’t make much of an impression on consumers because they spent too much time on refinement.

While this step results to good quality, it doesn’t make for character. He said that several management layers were involved to oversee the new vehicles’ design so the process functioned like a filter. He said that Toyota’s steering committee frequently can’t comprehend the board strategy.

The Toyota FT-CH Concept was finally introduced in Detroit at the recently concluded 2010 North American International Auto Show. By all means, Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. presented to us a concept that would bring the company’s objective to fulfilment. Ever since the time they started to come up with PHVs, Toyota USA wanted to deliver more choices of conventional hybrids for its consumers. Those, along with the upcoming 2012 BEV models and the 2015’s global range FCHVs are all being developed under the same strategy.

TMS President Jim Lentz projected how the increasing demand for all liquid fuels (aside from oil) will beat the supply within the next 10-20 years. Thus, we should continue to evolve in the 21st century and re-imagine the design of engines that would help lessen our dependence on petroleum. This is where electric vehicles will come into the picture. But so far, what we have right now is just the gas-electric hybrid model.

Toyota’s FT-CH can be compared to Prius. But then the new concept actually belongs to the compact segment since CH means Compact Hybrid. Simply put, the Toyota FT-CH Concept has the functional qualities of a compact car made for the city. Something that is easy to drive, responsive and also nimble. Thus, it basically has everything you’d want from a car.

The concept is designed at the Toyota’s ED2 centre in Nice, France. With its overall length, the FT-CH is 22-inches less than the Prius model. The difference on the overall width size only comes close to an inch. Still, in spite the relatively smaller exterior dimensions, the concept vehicle was able to deliver exceptional comfort within its adequately spacious and stylish interiors.

Toyota’s European Design and Development team was inspired by the so-called 8-bit generation. The 8-bit microprocessor technology famously seen on the 80’s video games lingered on the hybrid’s energetic concept vibe. These could be seen on the laid back design as well as the vibrant colours that they applied to make it look “fun and easy” to have and to hold.

Lentz also added how the TMS is on its way in building a marketing scheme for the Prius line specifically for North American consumers. That we’ll have to wait and see for now. In the meantime, we can only be too happy to conclude that if Prius is designed for the executives or the higher end buyers, the new FT-CH concept is made to be the “more affordable” alternative.

Topics: toyota, design

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