The world’s largest automaker and the biggest company in Japan is planning to mitigate the approaching threat of Germany’s Volkswagen AG by mulling a page from its strategy.
The German rival, now not only the biggest carmaker in Europe but also the second-largest in the world, has increased its efforts of standardization and cost cutting by coming up with a modular approach to designing and developing its upcoming models. They started using the MQB (Modularer Querbaukasten – Modular Transverse Matrix) modular platform for a wide variety of new models, from the VW Golf Mk VII to the third generation Skoda Superb.
Now Toyota plans to follow suite and use the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) initiative after its rival already uses it in more than a fifth of models produced currently. According to a progress report made by Executive Vice President Mitsuhisa Kato – the TNGA leader – on Thursday, Toyota forecasts that 50 percent of its vehicles will have TNGA platforms by 2020. Just as is the case with VW’s MQB, the TNGA is not a simple platform per se, but more of a simpler way of having a rationale across disparate platforms that could use the same essential layout.
“Other automakers would design parts to accommodate exterior styling,” comments Satoshi Hino, a consultant specializing in modular architecture. “In the 21st century, you have to make unique, attractive cars while still trying to limit new parts. Modular design allows that, and it’s what TNGA is after.” The process was pioneered decades ago by VW’s truck subsidiary Scania and essentially involves standardized modules, such as the cockpit unit, used in more than one model – but with enough flexibility to allow the construction of numerous variants to suit different markets.