TOKYO — Is Toyota taking a tip from Tata, the Indian budget car maker?
Like Tata's pint-sized Nano, the next-generation Toyota Yaris gets a single windshield wiper.
The redesigned Yaris, which could arrive in the States as early as this year, will be Toyota's first car in North America sporting one wiper, not two, says Yoshinari Toyomura, deputy chief engineer of the popular small car. But that's where the Tata similarities end.
Whereas Tata resorted to one wiper, partly to shave costs, Toyota did it to shave weight.
By eliminating a second mount, wiper blade and internal actuators, Toyota cut about 1.1 pounds from the car's weight. And every ounce helps fuel efficiency.
And unlike Tata's wiper, which remains fixed to the arm at a constant angle, Toyota's employs a two-armed link system that allows the wiper to pivot independently and cover more glass.
In fact, the overall wiped area is larger than in the current Yaris, Toyomura said.
“We weren't influenced by Tata at all,” Toyomura says.
The new Yaris, called the Vitz in Japan, where it went on sale in December, isn't the first Toyota model to get one wiper. The Aygo small car sold in Europe uses similar technology.
Another change on the overhauled Yaris: The meter cluster migrates back in front of the driver and behind the wheel. The current vehicle has center-mounted meters.
The repositioning is supposed to make the Yaris more of a driver's car, Toyomura said. It was also in response to U.S. and European tastes that favor the more traditional placement, he said.
The updated Yaris, which is about 4 inches longer than the current incarnation, also gets more masculine, angular front fascia akin to Toyota's iQ minicar.
Yaris sales fell 37 percent in the United States last year to 40,076 units.