Design

Toyota CEO Tells His Employees To Stop Building Boring Cars

It's orders like these that helped spawn the Supra revival.

It’s a bit easy to see why an automaker like Volkswagen is at the top of its game, surpassing all other automakers including Toyota to reside in the number one spot. Alongside a menu of mundane but useful people carriers, it has brands like Porsche, Audi, and Lamborghini to spice things up at the top and lend credibility to the brand among enthusiasts. Unfortunately, Toyota has been struggling in that market as of late. While cars like the GT 86 prove it still cares, there's more that can be done.

According to what the president of Toyota’s North American design center Kevin Hunter told Motoring, that’s about to change because Toyota is placing renewed emphasis on the enthusiast. Toyota was once known for its fun driver’s cars like the Supra, Celica, and MR2, but its eschewed those niche vehicles in order to focus on the crossover and entry-level sedan segments. Years of high reliability ratings and awards for value and quality have helped bolster sales, but despite the fact that Lexus maintains a few fun cars in its lineup, most of the Toyota dealership stock is yawn-inducing. To the rescue is Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota and a race car driver who loves exciting and cool cars.

“We see him in Japan and he tells us all the time, ‘let’s make cars people truly love’. Not just a good lease rate or they got a good deal, but cars people really love,” said Hunter. Hints of Toyoda’s decree can be seen with upcoming offerings like the new Supra, the current GT 86, and the wild FT-4X concept we saw unveiled at the New York Auto Show. However, exterior design cannot be the only emphasis because no matter how cool a car looks, the interior is where the owner spends most of their time. “We are starting inside out [with car design] a lot now because that’s where drivers and passengers spend most of their time… We call it a holistic user experience. It’s not just about exterior styling driving everything anymore,” Hunter explained.

While Toyota has been gunning for the outlandish looks as of late, especially with its grilles, its cars will get even more striking. “From a design point we’re thrilled, we want to the push the envelope and try new things. It’s just awesome we can do that now,” he said. Our main hope is that the driving experience gets more attention as it makes up the bulk of our emotional reaction to our cars.

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