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Toyota New Global Architecture to Debut This Year, Likely on the New Prius

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 3/27/2015 Kelly Pleskot

In the midst of the global recession, Toyota made a plan to significantly reduce production costs, boost powertrain efficiency, and make fewer but better vehicle platforms. Now its labor is starting to bear fruit, as it will start introducing its Toyota New Global Architecture this year.

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Toyota said it will start rolling out its new platforms this year with the launch of a midsize front-wheel-drive model. We predict Toyota is talking about the next-gen Prius, which should arrive by the year's end. Later, Toyota will introduce new platforms for compact and large front-wheel drive vehicles and for rear-wheel drive cars. By 2020, Toyota expects half of its vehicles worldwide will sit on new platforms. Toyota says lighter components should reduce the center of gravity on future Toyota models, improving the drive experience. MotorTrend Image© Provided by MotorTrend MotorTrend Image

Toyota New Global Architecture to Debut This Year, Likely on the New Prius

New Toyota powertrains will also arrive this year. Overall, the automaker is targeting 25-percent gains in fuel efficiency of its new powertrain fleet. Hybrid cars will also improve, but by a slightly smaller margin. Toyota plans to boost overall hybrid fuel economy by 15 percent with new drive unit layouts and redesigned electric motors and batteries. Again, this gives us a good clue as to what to expect on the next Prius. We previously reported that the new Prius is expected to have more power and "greatly improved driving dynamics" as well as a healthy boost in fuel economy. MotorTrend Image© Provided by MotorTrend MotorTrend Image

But Toyota's plans go way beyond platforms, powertrains, and the new Prius. This year, Toyota's larger goal is to cut the amount of investment money needed to ready a production line for a new model by about half compared to 2008 levels. This will require Toyota to rethink the structure of its cars and share components across its lineup. As an example, Toyota is planning on reducing the number of H-point heights on its models to five, meaning that there will only be five possible distances between a driver's hip point and the floor for a given car. Depending on a car's H-point height, a limited number of other components can be selected, including steering systems, shifters, and seat frames. While the new system still allows for plenty of combinations, much fewer possibilities exist. This is just one of many examples; Toyota has previously indicated that safety systems, particularly airbags, would share more commonality between models as well. MotorTrend Image© Provided by MotorTrend MotorTrend Image

Three years ago, Toyota put a freeze on building production plants, fearing another episode of rapid expansion that many blamed for a series of recalls. Although Toyota is now eyeing a new plant in Mexico, it is also looking to maximize production at its existing facilities. In 2009, Toyota's global plant utilization rate floated around 70 percent, but today, this number has increased to 90 percent. Toyota's future plants will also better be able to respond to changes in production demand, which could help the automaker weather economic crises in the future.

Source: Toyota

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