With Toyota’s new minivans, a new management strategy is revealed

Alphard launch 1 - Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt

Toyota’s new Alphard and Vellfire minivans, revealed today in Tokyo, are laden with new technology, like the impression to the driver that the car is transparent, or a computer, that parks the car nearly by itself. The minivans also come with Naoya Ukaku, a Toyota designer, and the trailblazer of a new, design-driven management concept.

Ukaku’s title is “Project Chief Designer.” Beginning with the Alphard and Vellfire, all new Toyota models will have one. “The PCD is like a chief engineer for design development,” Toyota’s Dion Corbett told me this afternoon. “He remains the car’s chief designer from idea development, through commercialization design all the way to sales preparations.” Until now at Toyota, these functions were handled by three different departments. The departments remain, but in the future, the Project Chief Designer stays with the car, and transitions with it from department through department while it gestates from the rough scribble on a napkin to final launched product.

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