Toyota wants TNGA platform to close gap with VW, Hyundai

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The Toyota New Global Architecture will cut development costs by 20 percent to 30 percent and help create more appealing products, the Japanese automaker hopes.

"Companies like Volkswagen and Hyundai have very competitive new models and we have the sense that we are lagging behind," Toyota's board member for r&d, Mitsuhisa Kato, told Automotive News Europe.

The TNGA strategy includes smart use of common parts, grouped development of the models and global standardization. To facilitate this, Kato said Toyota will establish a medium to long-term product lineup that will group development of various models.

"More than half of the parts of each vehicle should be common," Kato said. "We are aiming at 20 or 30 percent cost reduction in the development process."

Toyota’s Kato expects big cost savings from parts-sharing push.

He gave examples of how this will be achieved.

• Toyota will group driver hip points on different models and platforms into a single optimal driving position per segment, creating simpler, more easily assembled structures and reducing the variety of parts within the cockpit. The number of types of airbags, for example, will be cut from 50 at present to 10 or even fewer.

• Toyota will also adopt global open-standard alternators and globally standardized connector shapes and communications formats to simplify procurement.

Avoiding recalls

Global standardization of parts and platforms, however, can also create huge headaches when things go wrong. No company is more aware of this than Toyota, which has been hit by multiple large-scale recall in recent years.

As recently as last September Toyota had to issue a second recall on 18,000 units of the Lexus HS250h and 762,000 Toyota RAV4s after the first failed to resolve a handling problem.

"When you promote common parts, if quality problems occur [they] permeate throughout the world, so we have to be very cautious," Kato said. "Never again we will allow Mr. Toyoda to appear in front of a U.S. Congress."

In February 2010 Toyota President Akio Toyoda appeared before the U.S. lawmakers to apologize for failures with accelerators and brakes on several models that led to deaths and worldwide recalls.

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