Is Toyota Ready to Get Sporty?
A new global vehicle platform suggests the conservative automaker may be ready to take risks.
The Toyota New Global Architecture will let Toyota cut costs by 30 percent while enabling multiple vehicles to be developed for different markets at the same time. Toyota will be developing three front-wheel-drive models under the new platform.
The initiative also will reduce the number of Toyota executives responsible for approving a vehicle in development -- currently up to 100, the report said -- which very directly killed any fun along the way. Just read this quote from chief designer Tukuo Fukuichi:
"Toyota's problem was that it had too many filters. When you have that many people weighing in, you end up developing cars by eliminating the negatives, not by creating something positive, by taking risks."
While the new Scion FR-S will complement the company's only other sporty car under $30,000, the Scion tC, it's still a far cry from when the midengine MR-2 Spyder (pictured above) and the famous Celica coupe were dropped in 2005. The Camry no longer offers a manual transmission, and to get something exciting from Lexus, you'll need to drop $62,000 for the IS F or $375,000 for the untouchable LFA. The only sporty Toyota we can find is a Camry SE, which looks somewhat menacing in black. The new 2013 Avalon at least has a "sport" button that firms up the steering and paddle shifters to raise blood pressure.
Indeed, even Toyota Racing Development, the company's would-be performance division, is more skewed toward bolting superchargers on its trucks and modifying springs on Scion models than anything that might seriously beef up the average Toyota.
"I'm not sure how many future sports cars we have in the pipeline," Toyota spokesman Wade Hoyt told MSN Autos. "But Akio Toyoda is a real car guy. He races. He gets it. And he is determined that the company has to build more exciting, emotional products. That goes beyond styling to include better handling and driver involvement."
[Source: Reuters via Automotive News]
Only the manufacturer and beltway care about market share, the rest of us just want their well built products and maybe some updated styling.
I guess Toyota heard all the cries of "bland and boring" going on. Production is back to full swing, a brief period of quality issues is being corrected and now they are going to build more exciting vehicles.
Yes, but keep in mind that it is near impossible to change overnight (you've said it yourself many times). Toyota has made it a point to build boring automobiles for years now. They have dug themselves into a very deep hole. It is going to take a long time before anyone hears the name Toyota and smiles at the thought of driving excitement.
The FR-S is a start, but they have a long, long, long way to go.
Edit: Dual Clutch trans with paddle shifters
I would also argue that the Lexus IS250 with a manual transmission is not bad.
It's a bit of a stretch, but I can see that. Underwhelming performance for the money, but they still get extra credit points for still offering the manual.
My guess is that Toyota is getting poised to retake their #1 spot.
My last four "junk" Toyotas each went over a hundred thousand miles without ever seeing a repair shop. If that is junk, what would you call the competition....crap?
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