Toyota car designer, Rob McConnell, explains how the company creates its bold new vehicles

Photo credit: Steed Media Service
Photo credit: Steed Media Service

The 2016 North American International Auto Show featured several new vehicles with bold designs and exciting technology. Held Jan 11-24 in Detroit, Toyota was among the premier automakers showcasing groundbreaking cars at the event. On display were eco-friendly fuel cell cars such as the Toyota FCV Plus and Mirai; the i-Road, which gives the driver a sensation similar to skiing; and the Camry, America’s best-selling passenger vehicle.

During the excitement at the show, rolling out caught up with Rob McConnell, a Toyota design engineer and assistant manager at the Toyota Technical Center. We asked him about his experience with helping design some of the company’s most popular vehicles and what advice he has for aspiring car designers.

Tell us about Toyota’s goals when designing vehicles.
One of the challenges we have is achieving our style and look while still maintaining our performance. I worked on Avalon, and some of the little things that you don’t even pay attention to, a lot of work goes into it to make it happen. And that is to be able to accommodate all of our performance requirements, whether it’s aerodynamics, lighting, [or] fuel economy. That’s where some of the innovation and ideology come from; [the goal] is to maintain all of our performance standards so we can meet the needs of the customer.

What inspired you to get into design?
As an adult, when you grow up, you look back and reflect on the things your parents told you to do and not to do, and when you become an adult, you realize that they were right. I’ve played with a lot of Matchbox [cars] and Hot Wheels and Micro Machines and Legos and always looked at them a bit differently and looked to come up with different designs. As a kid, it’s something that excites you to do. As I got a little older and I got into high school and college, I started to realize that I was onto something and that it was a passion of mine that I wanted to do more of. I connected that with my academic interests in math and science, and the marriage of those two things is when I discovered my passion. So, I put the two together and realized that was the direction I needed to go in.

What advice do you give someone who’s trying to go into design?
For the kids that are really young, I would say to look into things that will expand your mind. Like I said, come up with different ways to put your toys together. When you get into high school, or even middle school, think about college, and think about your career as early as you can. There are a lot of programs that exist at universities that start very young. I went to the University of Michigan and participated in some of those activities. DAPCEP (Detroit Area Pre-College and Engineering Program) was one. Get involved in STEM activities. Showcase your desire to be involved, and then those opportunities will arise for you. Open your mind to what’s out there.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Join our Newsletter

Sign up for Rolling Out news straight to your inbox.

Read more about:
Also read
Watch this video
What's new
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x