The process starts by generating a general concept for a new product. This is done in Product Planning Division with the aid of Merchandise Planning and Sales divisions. The later undertakes market research by conducting surveys to be aware of the general public’s reaction towards recently current models. The aim of market research is to collect information which assists the company to predict the social environment and buying trends that may influence new model marketability and also get input to be used when developing the new model. Once the marketing research is done, information is fed to product planning division in order to develop, test and validate the concept.
Once the concept has been screened and validated, the stage of building the prototype starts which consists of three stages namely the initial, official and production prototype. In various cases, the people who make initial prototypes simply remodel unit parts from current car models to make them resemble the new model design. Once the initial prototype is made and approved, the official prototype starts. In case initial prototype has not been approved, reports on problems found during evaluation are sent back to designer to take corrective actions to make the initial prototype approved and then move on to the official prototype. The official prototype represents a commercially viable product and therefore it must be tested for reliability, performance, serviceability and maintainability. Also, reports on problems identified during testing are reported back to the designers who must then come up with corrective improvements to ensure that official prototype is approved.
Once the official prototype is tested and approved, the new car model prototype is sent from the Prototype Department to the Production Setup Department to determine prototype manufacturability. If prototype is found for any reason not manufacturable (costly for example), reports on problems are reported back to designers to take corrective actions or even change the entire design. The process of manufacturing valid prototypes, which can be translated into a tangible product, can involve the company in producing more than 3000 prototype cars. Toyota usually budgets around $8 million for the prototype process itself for each new car model.
Once the prototype has been approved and manufacturability is determined, the production process begins and marketing plan will also be developed. Eventually, the new model is ready and released and consequently marketing takes place.
Description of the Requirements for Toyota Cars
a) Vehicle Safety
The availability of standard safety features in Toyota cars is one of the top priorities and requirements for Toyota customers. Knowing that the car is safe enough to be driven and has for example airbags, electronic stability control and antilock brakes make customers feel more comfortable while driving.