TOKYO — Toyota announced this week the introduction of a new vehicle development system that will standardize major auto parts in an effort to cut costs.
The system is intended to develop various models — in particular vehicles aimed at emerging countries — faster and more inexpensively. Nissan and Volkswagen are also taking similar steps. However, such systems can negatively affect auto parts makers and other related companies.
Under the Toyota New Global Architecture, the automaker intends to standardize half its 4,000 to 5,000 major vehicle parts in the next few years. Parts to be standardized include engines and transmissions.
"This will be a way to make better cars," Toyota President Akio Toyoda said during a news conference at the company's headquarters.
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The automaker will aim to reduce engineering costs by at least 30 percent by standardizing vehicle platforms and conducting research and development of multiple models simultaneously.
Meanwhile, Nissan plans to introduce a system in 2013 in which vehicles will be developed in four modules and designed by combining these modules in different ways. Volkswagen is scheduled to release a compact car developed under such an engineering system this year.
Toyota said the new system will standardize half of its major auto parts, enabling the parts to be used in different models regardless of vehicle size. Auto parts and components are usually developed according to the size of vehicles.
However, if such systems are introduced widely, automakers may no longer procure auto parts from small and midsize companies.
Herbert Hemming, president of German auto parts maker Bosch Corp.'s Japanese unit, expressed concern over the possible trend, saying some parts makers could be forced out of the competition if the race to cut costs intensifies.