OYAMA, Japan — Toyota Motor Corp. has a problem to fix on one of the most successful vehicles in its history.
The worldwide popularity of the Corolla pulled Toyota into creating different architectures for different markets in recent years. And now, as it prepares to launch the car's 12th generation, Toyota needs to bring all variances back into a single global architecture.
The outgoing 11th-generation is actually three different cars on three different platforms.
That finally changes with the introduction of the Corolla hatchback that hits U.S. showrooms this summer. It is the lead model for a new family of Corollas, including an upcoming sedan and wagon, that will all be based off the same completely re-engineered global platform.
"The concept is now 'Global One Corolla,' " Corolla Chief Engineer Yoshiki Konishi said during a test drive of the hatchback here at Fuji Speedway west of Tokyo.
Migrating all versions of the Corolla to the Toyota New Global Architecture platform is an important evolution for the compact. It will help build brand value and marketing power and simplify product engineering as well as help achieve better economies of scale.
But it also is testing Toyota's manufacturing acumen by requiring the company to quickly convert all 16 of its Corolla plants worldwide to the TNGA production setup.
Toyota will have to overhaul lines at the plants within two years, Konishi said. It's believed to be the first time Toyota has undertaken such a swift and expansive upgrade.
Toyota didn't offer a price tag for the global campaign. But a look at U.S. preparation offers a peek. In April, Toyota said it would invest $170 million at its Blue Springs, Miss., assembly plant to build the 12th-generation Corolla sedan, creating 400 jobs over the following 12 months.
Multiply that outlay by 16, and the expense could easily exceed $1 billion.