The Toyota Prius has always been a bit of an oddball – at least outside its home market’s borders, that is. The Japanese used its weird design wisely to make the car’s (at the time) revolutionary powertrain stand out even more.
This chief designer is called Shunsaku Kodama, and he was given the difficult task of regaining that futuristic, ahead-of-its-time look it once had, but without scaring off people who don’t make technology their way of life. The new car had to be sexy, it had to transmit emotion, but it had to still be immediately identifiable as a “green car.”
When he set out to draw the future Prius, Shunsaku Kodama first needed a mood board to help him come up with a concept. And on that pastiche of elements that would sum up the identity of the 2016 Toyota Prius, Kodama placed a very unlikely figure: Lady Gaga.
“As a concept, we were thinking Lady Gaga. We wanted to be more extreme in our design,”he said, quoted by Automotive News.
That’s a pretty dangerous path to take, considering how the Prius customers aren’t just Hollywood stars or young trendsetters but also people who have owned all or some of the previous generations and are thinking about an upgrade.
The new design definitely stands out, but it’s also under the risk of polarizing the customers’ reactions. It is also extremely Japanese, something some people might not feel that comfortable with. But besides Lady Gaga, there was something else shaping up the 2016 Prius.
Aerodynamics. If sports cars do their best to beat the air in order to increase downforce or go faster, the Prius had a different goal: to go further. Air drag is a big concern for cars that pride themselves on their fuel efficiency, and the new Prius was going for the top spot.
To do that, it had to let go of its triangular shape, something the designers weren’t ready to do, not to mention the heads of the company. In the end, a solution was found that helped everyone, including the heads of those who will be sitting in the second row of seats, rear headroom being one of the main problems the designers had to overcome.
As the decision-making time got closer, Kodama’s team came up with two final proposals: one was a more organic design, the other a more technological one. They recommended the former, but a company’s exec chose the latter, and we’ll never know what the Prius with more Lady Gaga cues could have looked like.
Mr Shunsaku Kodama sums up his effort on the new Prius: “We have to create a new value, something completely different from our competitors and other environmental vehicles. Being emotional and creating excitement is something I strived for as the designer of the fourth-generation Prius.” By: autoevolution