How Toyota Does R&D

From a thread on Reddit:

“Former Toyota employee here.

“Firstly, they are very conservative in implementing new tech. Their R&D have pretty advance tech, but for production, everything is validated (probably) twice as much compared to other carmakers, thus by the time it’s green lit for mass production, it’s old tech.

“New tech adoption is so slow and difficult, it often frustrate even Toyota employees.

“Another thing about Toyota R&D, they have regional design houses, with the aim to “localized” parts design as much as possible, even the smallest design (engineering) details.

“For example, the inside ribs of a Hilux’s wheels in Brazil is about 5mm thicker than the ones in Thailand, so they can withstand 12G, instead 10G, because they did a survey of Brazil potholes, found out they are 20% bigger compared to a Thailand pothole.

“Vietnam tires have tickers sidewalls, because people on Hanoi like to climb over curbs. South Africa’s absorbers are 2mm thicker, because people less likely to brake when they see a rock. Air intakes for tropical countries are placed 15mm higher, because there have more floods. Tiny changes which are easily managed at parts manufacturing level, but have significant impact in reducing failure rate.

“For comparison, a German 3-series’s Transmission Oil cooler may be good enough for German weather, but they are same size for a UAE 3-series, which will kill the transmission.

“A Golf’s Dual-clutch is nice in Autobahns, it won’t lost long in Indonesia’s stop-go 20km/h traffic jams,

“And that’s why North American Toyota’s a rarely exported, or Euro/Asia model imported, not only because of regulations and tax, but NA’s usage condition is so much different from other countries, the cars wont be as reliable as intended.

“Another thing, not all country has the same situation regarding car service. And Toyota is very knowledgeable about this.

“Missed the Civic Type-R turbo oil change schedule because that single Honda dealer in your island is full? You just slash 2 years out of the turbo’s life..

“But do you know a Toyota Etios in India have water proof Volume knobs, because they did a 6 month in survey 10 different states and concluded most dealers use soap to clean the interior, seriously.

“And don’t let me start on materials, so many version, variation, caveats for standards, sometimes it feels like they are exporting to a different planet.

“So, this is why most Toyota ends up with a 4 AT, 50hp/liter engine, with boring hard plastic interior, numb steering, and goofy tiny wheels with huge wheel arc gaps.

​”And there’s Toyota procurement and manufacturing practice, which I’ll probably write more about later.”

Full thread in context.

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About Andy Wibbels

Andy is an award-winning blogger and author of the book Blogwild! A Guide for Small Business Blogging. His work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Entrepreneur, Wired, Business Week, Forbes, and other national and international media. He was worked at several San Francisco startups including Typepad, Get Satisfaction, SInMobi, Keas, and Mindjet. Currently, Andy is Director of Marketing at Lucidworks. Tw · Fb · G+ · Li

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