Toyota plans to make changes to its production processes in the near future.
The company is aiming to improve the performance, economy and handling of its future models via a major weight-saving campaign and by lowering the centre of gravity of its next-generation cars.
There will also be an extensive overhaul of product development processes, a new generation of platform architectures and increased use of communal parts.
Central to the plan is the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform, which will spawn its first new model — the next Prius — in 2015.
In contrast to past methods, new models of much the same size and mechanical make-up will be developed in component and structure-sharing clusters rather than individually, and across regions, too.
Company vice-president Mitsuhisa Kato says the potential cost saving “varies by vehicle, but the target is 15-20 per cent or even further; 20 to 30 per cent across the entire process is being aimed at. And the excess is to be reinvested”.
Some of the savings will come from sharing driving positions across models of similar size by using the same hip point, which determines the location of the driver relative to the car’s dashboard, airbags, seatbelts, pedal box and steering column. These are areas that are particularly costly to design, research and trial because they are fundamental to the car’s crash test performance.