Mediocre designs from one of automotive greats may soon be a thing of the past - that is if Toyota head designer Wahei Hirai gets his way.

Mediocre designs from one of automotive greats may soon be a thing of the past - that is if Toyota head designer Wahei Hirai gets his way.

Toyota's product reliability is legendary, but with designs intent on capturing the broader appeal, the brand may be starting to lose some ground to the more emotional designs of its competitors.

Talking to , Hirai admitted that design had been an afterthought at Toyota for years.

"Marketing people did the research, product planning did the packaging and then design was asked to cover it," Hirai said.

When he was named managing officer in charge of design last year, it was made clear that more was expected of the design division. Reporting to Kazuo Okamoto, senior marketing director responsible for design and product development, Hirai was told not to "do the same thing as before". The commitment was made then to improving the appeal of the Toyota and Lexus brands.

Many may argue that by addressing its designs, the Japanese automotive giant would be addressing one of its primary weaknesses. Under Hirai's control, designers are encouraged to develop their own proposals for production and concept cars.

"Now we're more involved in brand- and design strategy," said Hirai. "That's very important regarding decisions for Toyota's future direction."

"Making a dramatic change in the Corolla will be difficult, and maybe the Camry will be more difficult than the Corolla. But we'd like to take on that challenge."

Hirai said the first results of Toyota's new design in direction would soon be visible in production form.

Original article from Car