Toyota resumes efficiency drive
 April 8, 2015
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Japanese carmaker Toyota has resumed an efficiency drive that aims to overhaul its manufacturing and production processes.

By 2020, about half of its vehicles will use the new processes and more standardised parts, it said.

The cost-saving drive aims to improve vehicle reliability after a wave of recalls beginning in 2009.

Issues such as faulty accelerator and brake installations and fuel component problems have plagued the car maker.

"We are at a crossroads where we must now build a new business model," said Toyota president Akio Toyoda.

Toyota halted its Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) initiative after waves of recalls.

But now Toyota has resumed TNGA, and says it aims to cut a fifth of its development costs by using standardised parts and vehicle engineering. For example, the company will alter engineering processes so the lowermost seating position is the same across a range of models, cutting the number of airbag variations needed.

"This is Toyota's version of a cost-saving business model first launched by Volkswagen," said Shigeru Matsumura, analyst at SMBC Friend Research Center.

"The strategy, including using more common parts, is quite efficient and has become a global trend," the analyst added.

But Mr Matsumura warned the moves could result in huge recalls if the same defective part was found across a company's vehicle models.

However, Toyota said that standardised parts and processes would mean there was less need for a range of different suppliers, allowing for more consistency in quality.

As part of TNGA, it plans to lower the bonnet and centre of gravity of cars to improve handling. New vehicles will aim to have more fuel efficient engines and rigid, lightweight frames.

This year the new model fourth-generation Prius hybrid is widely expected to be rolled out using TNGA processes.

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