Kevin Hunter, the president of Toyota's North American design studio, Calty Design Research, says that the Japanese automaker is no longer “trying to please everyone”, and that the results are evident in new vehicles that are far more boldly styled than before.
Speaking to GoAuto, Hunter admitted that some Toyota designs of the recent past were “pretty bland”.
“We were making really, really good cars – people liked our cars – but they were pretty bland, let’s face it,” he told the Australian publication. “The next question you might be wondering is ‘well, why are you making boring cars? How did that happen?’
“There’s probably many reasons, but for me, two key fundamental points are, one, we were trying to please everybody; we wanted to literally make everybody happy and not have one person disappointed in a Toyota car … but the problem is that if we try to do that we end up in the middle and we just made vanilla cars – really, really good vanilla cars,” he said.
“The other issue is that we had a large consensus-driven organisation, and the more people you get together trying to satisfy everybody’s thoughts and opinions, again, you have to move to the middle.
“We streamlined that process and we’re making more dynamic cars, more bold cars, more pure cars and cars that we think people will really, really enjoy driving as well, and driver engagement is another big factor that’s playing into Toyota’s future direction,” Hunter explained.
The Detroit-born designer added that Toyota’s New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform, which underpins vehicles such as the new Auris and C-HR, had played a key role both in improving driving dynamics and giving design teams more freedom.
“TNGA has redefined Toyota’s approach to vehicle development and manufacturing, resulting in vehicles that can inspire confidence and deliver genuine fun-to-drive performance.
“The lower centre of gravity, more rigid frame, new suspension and greater use of high-strength steel provide direct benefits that result in balanced handling and a more engaging drive.
“TNGA also liberates vehicle design, enabling rooflines and bonnets to be lower and resulting in each model being visually distinctive with more appealing proportions,” he told GoAuto.