The expressiveness of the C-HR's design, which was done by Toyota's team in Sophia-Antipolis, France, is something that Toyota Europe CEO Didier Leroy has been encouraging.
In a June interview with Automotive News Europe, Leroy admitted that Toyota design has been too “rational,” something he wanted to change for European-led models now that his region is in charge of minicar, subcompact and compact vehicle development for all of Toyota.
“We must be able … to develop much more appealing exterior design, we must be able to do some big changes,” Leroy said.
Toyota Europe was given more control over design after Leroy returned the unit to the black. He delivered the equivalent of 434 million euros in operating profit to Toyota headquarters in Japan in the fiscal year that ended in March. It was the company’s second straight profitable fiscal year after four years of losses.
“We said, ‘Now we are profitable in Europe, we can self-finance this [design] activity’,” he told ANE. Leroy also said the company was improving interior quality, another area in which the Japanese giant had been criticized.
Toyota is being badly beaten in Europe’s growing SUV segments. The automaker sold 32,059 RAV4s in the first seven months of this year, compared with 128,511 units of the segment-topping Qashqai. Toyota has cancelled its poorly received Urban Cruiser subcompact crossover in many European markets, resulting in seven-month sales of just 290 units, according to JATO Dynamics.