Known internally as the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA), this flexible structure and component family will eventually provide the underpinnings for millions of Toyotas across the globe.
The company has yet to reveal the range of models that the TNGA will provide a core for, but it’s likely to stretch from the Yaris to the US-market Camry saloon. Four-wheel-drive models such as the RAV4 will also be included, as well as some Lexus models.
Hybrids will also be catered for, including the next-generation Toyota Prius, which is due in 2015 and is expected to be the first model to benefit from the new platform. The successor to the Lexus CT200h is also likely to use this hardware.
The benefits of the scaleable architecture are primarily economic, offering the chance to spread tooling costs and research and development budgets across more models. It will also allow electronic sub-systems to be shared across more cars and enable options such as radar-assisted brakes to be introduced lower down the range.
Meanwhile, the advances of the Volkswagen Group, and Audi in particular, in interior design and finish have pushed Toyota to devise a method of apportioning values to its cars’ interiors. Rapidly rising standards of interior finish across European models over the past 15 years, and Toyota’s struggles to compete with them, are driving the Japanese giant to find a robust way of analysing this shift.
According to insiders, the impetus for the development of the system comes from Toyota Motor Europe, which often battles to convey the importance of interior finish to colleagues in Japan.
The relative rarity of European cars on Japanese roads is one reason why Toyota staff there underestimate the importance of interior quality. The company’s European operation, however, is intent on eliminating the disparity.