Toyota says the new structure, dubbed Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA), will be versatile enough to form the basis for compact and large vehicles and all sizes in between, along with supporting both front- and rear-wheel-drive layouts.
The first TNGA model will be a “mid-size front-wheel-drive vehicle” that will roll out later this year, though Toyota has released no further details about the form the new car will take. However, we'd expect it will be the Avensis model, which is sold in Europe.
Toyota says improvements in its underbody and suspension components and repositioning and lowering the centre of gravity of powertrain components will contribute to the development of “attractive, low-stance designs, responsive handling, a high-quality drive feel, and collision performance that offers safety and peace of mind”.
The Japanese manufacturer initially plans to increase overall body rigidity by 30 to 65 per cent, then further improve rigidity by using laser screw welding technology to join body components.
Toyota emphasises the importance of the development of new powertrains alongside the new architecture to “enhance driving performance and fuel efficiency”.
By improving thermal efficiency in its engines and energy-relay efficiency in its transmissions, the car maker has increased the fuel efficiency of its new powertrains by approximately 25 per cent and power output by more than 15 per cent.
By rethinking drive unit layout and shrinking its electric motors, inverters and batteries, Toyota expects to improve the fuel efficiency of its hybrid vehicle systems by more than 15 per cent.
Toyota will also introduce the first of its new powertrain units later this year.
The car makers is also aiming to reduce the amount of capital investment required to prepare a production line for a new model by approximately 50 per cent compared with 2008 levels.
Toyota president Akio Toyoda says the TNGA is a fundamental part of the company’s global vision of achieving sustainable growth, having greatly improved product development and more competitive production sites, and making “ever-better cars”.
“I want 2015 to be a year in which we take steady and bold steps toward sustainable growth,” Toyoda said.
“We can do this by launching new models that incorporate TNGA, and making good use of this intentional pause to strengthen our competitiveness.
“We aim to be a company that grows sustainably – a tree with a strong trunk.”