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.
Though molded by the wind tunnel, the Prius' design is as much about emotion as intelligence. Designers pervaded the new model with a significant feeling of energy. Motivated by a sprinter in the starting blocks, the energetic design emanates a sentiment of forward movement.
The "Triangle Silhouette" that characterized the second and third-generation Prius models has been reconceptualized. In profile, it is more elongated and sleeker with the total outline evoking an athletic form. The hood is lower, and in fact, the logo on the front is at the same height as the Scion FR-S sports vehicle.
The exclusive roof peak has been pushed ahead by 6.7 inches (170mm) to additionally decrease drag while still guaranteeing a generous rear-seat headroom. Edgy character lines keep running at the edge from the front fenders. One is just over the sill that ranges up towards the rear fender, while the upper crease transforms into the rear spoiler. The rocker panel includes a particular light-catching, upward-facing surface that starts at the lowest part of the car to accentuate its steady low position.
New default Bi-LED headlamps rule the Prius' front fascia and give it a unique face. Automatic headlamp leveling keeps the beam concentrated on the road and helps avert blinding drivers in approaching cars.
The exceptional and stunning rear combination lamps display the exclusive lines of the Prius from the rear spoiler to the trailing edges of the sides and leave one of the most suggestive nighttime marks on the road today.
A palette of seven exterior colors incorporates an all-new Toyota hue, the Hypersonic Red. A recently created treatment process results to a profound and energetic brilliance, accentuating the outside structures. Maybe red will be the new green!