Automotive Design and Production

APR 2018

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Page 30 of 51 in production, as a good example of how they're taking styling risks, and the LF-1 as the next iteration. "Lexus is a young brand," Hunter says. (Lexus was established in 1989. The LS 400 made its debut in Detroit that year at the auto show—and '89, coinciden- tally, was the first year that what had been simply the "Detroit Auto Show" became NAIAS.) "I think we have a better shot at moving quickly and being more innovative than other older brands that carry a lot of baggage around with them." There's not all upside to having heritage in the premium space, it seems. "Toyota brand," Hunter admits, "is challenging because we create so many products globally." In the case of Toyota, the design direction is called "Vibrant Clarity," which Hunter explains means something that has a sense of energy but has a clear sense of purpose. TALKING TRUCKS. One of the areas of focus in North America is on truck design, the Tacoma and Tundra in particular. Hunter says that they're using what they call a "hexagon theme" on the front ends, and working for a more chiseled design throughout. "We want to create a strong brand identity for our trucks and SUVs, especially in the rugged, active area—which is what Toyota created in the midsize truck segment, with the Tacoma." (Although there is increasing competition in the midsize space with the Chevrolet Colorado and the GMC Canyon, as well as the continuation of the Nissan Frontier, the Tacoma remains dominant: according to Autodata, in 2017 Toyota sold 198,125 Tacomas, which represents 47.4 percent of the segment. And it is inter- esting to note that it has actually grown its numbers, as in 2016 there were 191,631 units sold, or 45.1 percent of the market.) But given perennial best-sellers like the Camry and the Corolla, there are still the sedans that have to be addressed head-on, which Hunter acknowledges are "more challenging" than the crossovers and trucks. (How challenging? Well, with 2017 sales of 387,081 units, the Camry was the best-selling car in the U.S. for its 16th year running, but the Toyota RAV4 bested it for the first time, with sales of 407,594: despite the sales crown, in the Toyota lineup the change could be prelude to continued crossover strength: in 2016 the Camry outsold the RAV4 by 36,477 units.) The eighth-generation Camry introduced last year is certainly a completely reimagined "Camry," no longer being a design that anyone could apply the moniker "appliance" to. And there's the 2019 Avalon. Hunter says this is a good example of what they're calling "under priority" on the front end. "Instead of having a big grille that's top-to-bottom," he explains, "we focus on the lower for our statement about cooling intake." Which visually lowers and widens the front of the vehicle. ENVISIONING TOMORROW. At the 2017 CES in Las Vegas, Toyota revealed the Concept-i, a vehicle for 2030 styled by Calty and developed along with people from Toyota Innovation Hub in San Francisco, as the car is as much a commu- nication device (for the driver, passenger and outside world) as it is a transportation device. The Concept-i, for all of its advanced technology including Yui, an artificial intelligence-based interface, still is a car to be driven by a human driver (certainly there are automated driving capabilities, but there is still a steering wheel). For the 2018 CES, Calty designers came up with something completely different, the e-Palette, a fully automated electric vehicle that is more like the box that a Concept-i might be shipped in than the Concept-i: the e-Palette is designed to be used primarily for shipping and shopping, logistics and lunch: it is, in a term coined by a mobility designer some years ago, a COW: Container on Wheels. Toyota is working with companies including Amazon and Pizza Hut on the e-Palette and the digital infrastruc- ture behind it. The point is that Hunter and his team in the U.S., as well as the extended team of designers that Toyota has located around the world, are transforming the designs of what Toyota and Lexus cars and trucks are today, and what they could conceivably be tomorrow. Hunter says: "I hope that in whatever we do there is some artistic, expressive, emotional thing in it that feels wonderful. Having said that, it is a new world for young people. They might wonder why anyone wants to drive their own car." That said, they are dedicated to making that owner- ship or driver experience worth it: "We're making objects of desire. Everything we do we want to be beautiful and stunning." The Toyota Concept-i is a car of the future that people will actually drive (at least part of the time). It was styled by Calty in Newport Beach. 29 AD&P ∕ APRIL 2018 TOYOTA DESIGN

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