Toyota has unveiled a new global vehicle architecture that the company says will "greatly improve vehicle performance and product appeal", as well as cutting development costs and massively reducing the complexity of its current global model range.
Known as the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA), the system is a kit of "lighter, more compact" components that will be used for a new generation of vehicles covering front and rear-wheel drive and a new, "much higher efficiency" powertrain family.
The Japanese car maker also promises much-improved handling, thanks to a lower-mounted powertrain. This, according to Toyota, endows TNGA cars with the lowest centre of gravity of any mainstream rival.
As many as 50% of all Toyota’s output by 2020 will use the TNGA architecture. This will offer a huge cost saving and reduction in complexity for Toyota, which says it currently has around "100 platforms and sub-platforms".
Toyota says the TNGA structures will be 30-65% stiffer than today’s models. That should feed into better ride and handling as well as improved crash safety.
The new TNGA engines are "much more" thermally efficient, offering around 15% more power and - in conjunction with more efficient automatic and CVT transmissions – offer as much as 25% better fuel economy.
The "fifth generation" hybrid powertrain that is bundled with TNGA is claimed to be 15% more economical than today’s Toyota hybrid models.
This new powertain family will also reduce the huge complexity of Toyota’s global engine line-up. The company estimates that, taking into account different emissions regulations and way the units are mounted in a particular platform, it has around 800 different engines.
The common parts in the TNGA architecture are almost entirely hidden from view. It covers the front end and crash structure, the actual floor structure and the rear floor and rear crash structure. Also included are the front and rear suspension systems, the whole powertrain, the radiator position, the heating and climate control unit and the steering system.
Inside, the seat frames are common but can be sited at five different heights, allowing the TNGA kit to cover all types of vehicles from superminis to MPVs.
According to Toyota, the only common visible parts in the cabin will be the steering wheel, touchscreen, gear selector and foot pedals. On the outside, the only common parts will be the door mirrors and the Toyota badge.
This, it’s claimed, will give Toyota’s operations in the various global markets the ability to completely customise vehicles to local tastes.
Previously, Toyota’s development system allowed vehicle line chief engineers to customise platforms and powertrains when developing new models. This was the main reason for the massive proliferation in platforms and powertrains.
From now, the chief engineers will use the TNGA toolkit and invest more in meeting local market demands and delivering the ‘eye-catching design’ that Toyota bosses insist has to mark out all future models.
The first TNGA-based car will be a "front-drive, medium-size model" launched later this year. Although Toyota officials wouldn’t give any further details, the TNGA architecture on display at its Honsha facility was Auris-sized and had independent rear suspension.
According to the company, investment in a TNGA model will be around 40% lower than a similar model from 2008. However, as much as 75% of this saving will be invested in what Toyota says is its new mission statement of "making ever-better cars".