Filed under: Hirings/Firings/Layoffs , Lexus , Toyota , Design/Style A reshuffle in the uppermost ranks of Lexus could see the Japanese luxury brand further energize its recent focus on design. Tokuo Fukuichi, Toyota’s global design boss, is the new head of Lexus International. Fukuichi will retain his role as the overall head of design for Toyota , Lexus and Scion , and will assume his new position at the head of Lexus and on its board on April 1 (no fooling). This is going to be an interesting move for fans of design to watch, as Fukuichi has repeatedly been mentioned as a designer that enjoys pushing the envelope and experimenting. He is, after all, the man responsible for designing the most awesomely odd minivan of the 1990s, the mid-engined, rear-drive Toyota Previa, and more recently, he signed off on the controversial Lexus LF-NX concept , which is said to presage a new production small crossover. “Regarding changes in design, no one has 100 percent confidence,” Fukuichi told Forbes back in January 2013. “No one can really say with pure certainty that, ‘In two years, this will sell well.’” As Akio Toyoda continues to demand more assertive, edgier designs, it’s that point of view that should make Fukuichi a valuable addition to Lexus, as it continues to challenge the competition from Germany. Fukuichi replaces Kiotaka Ise, who will become the chief officer at Toyota Research and Development, according to Automotive News . Lexus gets new boss, and he’s a designer originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 26 Feb 2014 14:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds .
Filed under: Concept Cars , Lexus , Scion , Toyota , Design/Style “In the future, out of 100 customers, we want to excite ten of them instead of not offending all 100.” Almost all of the details about the Toyota New Group Architecture (TNGA) strategy have come out since the initiative was first reported on in March of this year, but Autoblog did learn a few new things about it on a recent trip to Japan. Probably the second-most important detail is that each new segment platform will be based around a common hip point to create an “optimal driving position architecture.” Previously, each car was conceived on its own, so Toyota couldn’t extract savings from cars that were close in size. The Etios , sold in Latin America and India, is not much smaller than the Corolla , but the two compacts had two different lead engineers, so they have different hip points and require different manufacturing processes and different kinds of commodity parts like seat belt equipment. A common hip point and driving position, as well as other moves like the an R&D reorganization and the switch to parts engineered for global approval and pooled buying, will allow Toyota to harmonize parts like airbags, pedal boxes and seat belts to save money. The company expects to save 15 to 20 percent on manufacturing using TNGA, and 20 to 30 percent overall once development is included. Toyota also says it will use the efficiencies gained and money saved to make those commodity parts better, and they will have longer life cycles; while the lifespan of a Corolla won’t change, a pedal box might carry over from one generation into a brand new generation. Three new front-wheel-drive cars are expected to ride on the platform in 2015, the Prius being one of them, and its advance estimate of 55 miles per gallon is said to be aided by the TNGA. Another important objective of the streamlined development programs and common parts is allowing the designers to actually, you know, design a car instead of wrapping a platform in meek metal. Said company CEO Akio Toyoda earlier this year, “Instead of developing what customers would want next, we were making cars that would rake in sales” – cars that were just as popular as they were boring. That brings us to what we think might be the most important advance provided by the TNGA, revealed in a presentation by company design chief Tokuo Fukuichi: “Before, we made cars so as not to be disliked by anyone.