UPDATE 1-Toyota to sell vehicles using common parts in 2015

Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:57am EDT

* Toyota lags rival Volkswagen in parts-sharing strategy

* Toyota declines to give name of the vehicle

* Toyota opens up to standardized parts used by other companies (Recasts, adds quote by executive vice president, information on Toyota and VW's platform strategies)

By Yoko Kubota

TOYOTA, Japan, March 27 (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp will start selling vehicles in 2015 under its new plan to ramp up the use of shared parts as it catches up with rival Volkswagen, which pioneered the strategy.

Initially, vehicles using the same platform and developed under Toyota's new strategy will share 20-30 percent of the parts in the platform, a ratio Toyota wants to expand to 70-80 percent.

"Global competition among automakers is becoming more severe, and TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture) is an effort to make more efficient and more attractive products," executive vice president Mitsuhisa Kato told reporters.

Germany's Volkswagen was the first to implement a modular development and production concept, whereby a basic design can be built in subtle variations and sold in different markets, helping the company to cut costs.

If the idea pays off, Volkswagen could snatch Toyota's crown as the world's top selling automaker as early as next year, according to analysts at Morgan Stanley.

"We may be behind in terms of the timing. But in the end, what matters is the ability to make good products," said Toyota's Kato.

Toyota, which under President Akio Toyoda has been shifting gear to longer-term growth rather than short-term gains, plans to use the money and manpower it has saved to improve vehicle design and quality.

Kato declined to give the name of the first vehicle that Toyota will launch in 2015.

Toyota has said that under TNGA, it will initially focus on developing three new platforms; one that is used in the Camry mid-sized sedan, another used in the Prius hybrid and the Corolla small sedan, and one used in the Yaris subcompact car.

These new platforms will have a lower center of gravity for better turning and stopping and a more attractive design, the company said. Toyota is also open to adopting standard parts that are widely used by other automakers, it said. (Reporting by Yoko Kubota; editing by Miral Fahmy and Louise Heavens)

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