Archive for October, 2011

Recently, Toyota design chief Dezi Nagaya stated that his new goal was to design evocative, unique designs for Toyota rather than the typical German approach of “one sausage, different lengths

Mmmm, sausages.

I really have to question him though – what’s wrong with different sized sausages?  Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz have been successfully doing this for years.  They have created restrained, tastefully styled cars that are clearly identifiable to the brand while offering more features and refinement (and less sporting pretensions) with each successively larger vehicle in the family.

I have to ask Toyota – why doesn’t that work?  Do they think their new designs are going to be far more successful?  Let’s look at some of Toyota’s most iconic designs first.

The Toyota Camry essentially defines Toyota.  They sell a complete fuck-tonne of these cars every month – about 25,000 per month – making it the best selling car in America.  Why?  Aside from the traditional Toyota values of making their cars into functional, efficient driving appliances, it also appeals on the design front – it is bland.  There is nothing flashy about it, and on the grueling commute home from work, most people don’t want to be noticed.  Not everyone wants to drive something that attracts the attention of the police and easily identifies their vehicle when they drive like assholes.

In the German tradition, Toyota basically sells a stretched wheelbase Camry as the Avalon, with a few other options and toys designed to coddle the purchaser and justify the premium over a loaded V6 Camry.  This is, in fact, a nice, sleek design.

Toyota actually has a history of sleek designs – the LS and GS series, the 4th Generation Supra, pretty much every Camry and Avalon ever sold.  They have been successful at offering sausages in different sizes.

And now they want us to buy this

The goggles, they do nothing!

I’m not kidding folks.

They want to be dynamic, muscular, masculine.  It looks like they’re just eye-searingly ugly to me.  In the pursuit of uniqueness (a trait not particularly valued in traditional Japanese society), Toyota has come out with a stream of hideously ugly vehicles – pretty much everything that ever came out of Scion, the Venza, the Lexus CT200h – and god knows what else is going to come next.

And guess what – the sales figures for these outrageously disgusting vehicles are NOT GOOD.  The leading vehicle is still the bland Camry – this tells us something – it tells us that if Toyota wants to sell more cars, perhaps they should focus on vehicles that are inoffensive – not every other motorist wants their retinas seared on their drive home from work.

Personally, I like sausage.