If you want to know who's been responsible for injecting some attitude into Toyota's designs in recent years, look to Akihiro Nagaya. As a design executive and as a freelance consultant, the rockstar designer known as Dezi has styled more concept and production cars for Toyota and its Lexus brand than we would dare to count. But now he's moving to Yamaha.
According to Automotive News, Dezi Nagaya moved on July 1 to the Yamaha Motor Company as its general manager of design – a role it had never filled before, choosing to outsource most of its design work. Nagaya's Facebook page indicates he's been at Yamaha since January. We don't know at this point whether Nagaya will be responsible for the design of all of Yamaha's motor vehicles – including its motorcycles, scooters, ATVs and marine products – or just its automotive operations, but the hire comes at a time when the company has been exploring further involvement in four-wheeled transportation.
In the past Yamaha has provided engines for vehicles like the Lexus LFA, Volvo XC90 and Ford Taurus SHO, and toyed with the idea of a supercar with the oddball OX99-11 concept in the early 1990s, but more recently embarked on a partnership with Gordon Murray Design to build the Motiv.e city car.
Because Yamaha and Toyota each own a small piece of each other and collaborate on a range of projects, Nagaya's move is being characterized as a "transfer" between partners instead of a poaching of one company's employee by another.