Toyota Australia engineers "absolutely" welcome its global president's directive to make its cars more fun to drive, committing to make the next generation Toyota Camry more dynamic than the current model.
Confirmed in an exclusive interview, Toyota Technical Centre Australia (TTC-AU) president Max Gillard said the directive by global boss Akio Toyoda to make all future Toyota products more fun to drive is being embraced by his local engineering team.
“Whether ‘dynamic’ is in the ride and handling, or the appearance … it [the directive] has been a big shot in the arm for our people, and not just our people, but all people in Toyota,” told Gillard.
“It is our intention that the customer will have a lot more emotional pleasure and enjoyment … driving the new models than they have in the past.”
Following the success of the Toyota 86, which is seen internally as a line-in-the-sand car for the brand, the technical centre boss says the next fun cars we’ll see will be “with every new model that comes out, whether that be an import or a local produced car.”
Gillard went so far as to say that if the next Camry is not a dynamic car “then we’ve failed.”
While he admits that both the existing and previous Camrys are not seen as dynamic benchmarks, and trails its fellow locally built rivals in that area, he added that “whether we can go so far [dynamically as Falcon and Commodore] remains to be seen.”
When Akio Toyoda, a renowned driving enthusiast, replaced Katsuaki Watanabe as Toyota global company president in 2009, he soon admitted that Toyota had become a dull car company. In a 2011 address, he told “it is for this reason that we are committed to making cars that will evoke this feeling of ‘Fun to drive’ again. This is Toyota’s declaration.”
Pointing to this decalaration, Gillard (pictured above) said “I guess what he was saying that is was very much a logical choice [to buy a Toyota] in the past, but not so emotional.
“We must provide the customer with emotional satisfaction with the decision, not just that it’s a good, economic decision to buy a Toyota”.
Gillard revealed that Australian engineers are currently in the United States working with other engineering teams to work on the “core” next generation Camry, which is expected in 2016.
“Our first step of new model development is to make it clear to Toyota what is necessary for Australia ,” he explained of the process. “It’s not just from a specifications point of view, but fundamentals like ride and handling, or towing capacity, or cooling capacity.
“In the old days we used to modify vehicles for Australia. Now our key role is to ensure the base design suits the requirements of Australia, because if we have to duplicate what Toyota Japan have done, well it’s not really efficient. And sometimes you can’t really achieve something … because some suspension arm is in the wrong position and you can’t move it.
“The base design, to which we assist, is automatically suited to our country and the countries that we export to.
“The fundamental philosophy is ‘made in Toyota’ not made in Japan or made in Australia.”