TOYOTA GENUINE ACCESSORIES GUIDE

Inside Toyota’s Product Centre

3 MIN READ

Toyota centre of excellence
Toyota centre of excellence

Kaizen means “change for the better”. It’s one of the guiding principles at Toyota’s Product Centre in Melbourne’s West. We sat down with two of the Centre’s senior managers, Stephen and Harisch, to find out how this commitment to continuous improvement comes to life in Toyota Genuine Parts and Accessories.


Most people wouldn’t know this but the distinctive, honeycomb-shaped grille that’s helped the HiLux Rugged X become such a hit with tradies and travelers was originally sketched by a design intern.

“The process we follow is, the design is first done as a sketch,” explains Harisch Karki, one of the Group Managers who oversaw the grille’s production from start to finish. “Then turning that sketch into an actual product is always going to be a challenge. For us, the next step is to use Computer-Aided Design and look at what needs to be delivered. Being Toyota, the quality, reliability and durability are always key priorities.”

Local pride for the honeycomb grille HiLux
Local pride for the honeycomb grille HiLux

Local pride for the honeycomb grille HiLux.

Harisch says they needed to be certain the grille’s chunkier new shape won’t have a negative impact on air intake. Everything, down to the matte paint finish needed to meet Toyota’s stringent durability standards. “As a development engineer, I ask: does the part meet the function, while never compromising the overall design of the vehicle?” he explains. This takes continuous collaboration with Toyota’s suppliers, testing and more testing.

When the Centre opened last year it brought together Toyota’s local planning, design, engineering and evaluation teams for the first time. They converted the old powertrain manufacturing building in Altona into a 55,000m2, state-of-the-art facility that’s capable of delivering 26,000 parts a day to dealerships.

“Being Toyota, the quality, reliability and durability are always key priorities.”



– Harisch Karki, Group Manager

First-class design facilities in action
First-class design facilities in action

First-class design facilities in action.

Designers have top clay and digital modeling facilities to work with and a bespoke indoor viewing area for perfectly diffused lighting. Evaluators can run simulations in autodome test tracks, use environmental chambers that mimic Australia’s extreme weather conditions and conduct vibration tests that simulate more than a decade’s worth of outback travel.

Senior Manager for Conversions and Accessories Stephen Castles has been working in Toyota product development for 32 years. He says there’s always been great collaboration across the company but, at the Product Centre, the closer proximity between teams translates into natural day-to-day efficiencies. ​​“It’s about having that informal communication, the watercooler discussions, when you hear about what particular groups are working on, and then you tap into it,” he says.

Stephen Castles overseeing Toyota Genuine Bull Bars
Stephen Castles overseeing Toyota Genuine Bull Bars

Stephen Castles overseeing Toyota Genuine Bull Bars.

Just like the Rugged X grille, each new accessory is developed with the entire vehicle-as-system in mind. A new Toyota Genuine Bull Bar needs to complement Toyota Safety Sense, airbag deployment or cooling performance. The bull bar’s extra weight is aerodynamically designed to limit excess fuel consumption while helping optimise cargo distribution. It means Toyota Genuine Bull Bars can end up being up to 30kgs lighter than those of competitors, while sacrificing nothing when it comes to safety.

“Aftermarket options generally have to wait until a vehicle is available, and reverse-engineer accessories from there,” Stephen says. “We can get access to early data between five and three years out. So early access to data is our key advantage. As is access to other tighter standards.” It means they can produce each accessory with the entire vehicle architecture in mind.

Local innovation on display
Local innovation on display

Local innovation on display.

Stephen tells us one of the proudest innovations he’s helped usher through is a seemingly simple one: Toyota Genuine Load Distribution Hitch. “So many aftermarket load distribution hitches transfer too much stress into the vehicle frames, which can potentially lead to cracking,” he explains. “What we've done is ensure that our spring bars actually become the mode of any potential failure.” It means if anything is going to wear out first, it’s the spring bar which is a comparatively simple part to replace.

Harisch says he particularly loves seeing that Rugged X grille out on the road. It’s a great example of the local designers and engineers, of all levels of experience, working with the suppliers to build something distinctively Toyota. Adding, “the main thing I pride myself in the role is the collaborative environment that we're in, and the support we get from our global headquarters in Japan. Especially when it comes to Genuine accessories. They’re not an afterthought, they’re designed to flow the vehicle and enhance it. They're the best in class.”


Learn More

CONTINUE READING

Toyota Warranty Advantage, accessories explained article
Toyota Warranty Advantage, accessories explained article

Toyota Warranty Advantage, accessories explained

Read Article
BACK TO ALL ARTICLES

{{ disclaimer.title }}