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Archive for the ‘Toyota’ Category

EVs Aren’t Ready to “Take Over the World,” Says Toyota’s Lentz

North American CEO warns “It’s going to be a battle” are models flood market but sales lag.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jan.16, 2019

Toyota's Jim Lentz believes the auto industry is putting too much stock – and money – into electric vehicles.

By various estimates, there should be as many as 100 all-electric vehicles on the market by the end of 2020, with scores more plug-ins and conventional hybrids already available. And that could pose a major challenge for automakers who are investing billions into the market to build battery-based vehicles. That includes Toyota which is investing about $1 billion to open up a new plant in U.S. in a partnership with Mazda that will, among other products, produce a new line-up of battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs.

The question is whether all that money could be going down a rathole. For the moment, at least, Tesla appears to be the only automaker making any money on battery vehicles, as a number of industry leaders pointed out during a series of events in Detroit this week.

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That included Jim Lentz, the CEO of Toyota North America, who warned that, “It’s going to be a battle,” as manufacturers struggle to grab customers in a market where “There’s not much growth.” (more…)

Long-Awaited Toyota Supra Finally Set to Break Cover at NAIAS

The icon is back after nearly two decades away.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jan.14, 2019

Toyota chief Akio Toyota welcomed back an "old friend," the new Toyota Supra at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

At a generally quiet 2019 North American International Auto Show one thing seems certain: there’ll be plenty of buzz as Toyota lifts the covers off the reborn Supra.

Though the automaker did tease us last year with a track version of the sports car, as well as a heavily disguised version of the street model during the summer at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, this is the first time most of the world will see it, sans camouflage, as the Toyota Supra makes its return after a 17-year global absence and a 21-year deficit in the U.S. market.

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(We did get a sneak peek over the weekend, however, thanks to Toyota Mexico which issued a tweet declaring, “Our new #Supra arrived in Japan!, and this is the story that #AkioToyoda tells us about its return”, with an accompanying video profiling the sports car.) (more…)

Downsized Detroit Auto Show Still Has Some Big Debuts

SUVs, CUVs, even a few sedans and coupes.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jan.13, 2019

The North American International Auto Show will host scads of new vehicle debuts in January for the last time as it moves to June for 2020.

The North American International Auto Show is set to make its last winter run. No, NAIAS isn’t going away. It’s just moving to June in 2020, a definite relief for those who’ve had to trudge down to the Detroit riverfront for the annual event since it went “international” 30 years ago.

The show is a fair bit downsized from its glory days when as many as 70 new products debuted during three packed days of press previews. That said, this year’s event still has some significant, headline-making vehicles set to make a first appearance.

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And TheDetroitBureau.com has a list of the most important products set to show up in Detroit this year. Check out this preview of the upcoming week’s highlights: (more…)

Toyota Teaming Up With Paccar to Build a Test Fleet of Clean Hydrogen Semis

Project will focus on heavily polluted Port of Los Angeles.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jan.09, 2019

Toyota is teaming up with Paccar to develop a next-generation fuel-cell powered semi-truck to be used at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Toyota is teaming up with Paccar, one of the world’s largest producers of heavy-duty trucks, to build 10 hydrogen-powered Class 8 prototypes.

The rigs will go into operation at the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California, where the thousands of diesel trucks currently in use catch blame for a disproportionate share of the region’s air pollution. The project comes as environmental regulators are putting into place plans to completely eliminate conventional diesel trucks at the two ports by 2035.

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“This is not just a science experiment,” said Bob Carter, executive vice president, Toyota Motor North America. “The goal is to make a difference in society, to remove pollution and improve the air quality in and around the Port of Los Angeles.” (more…)

Toyota Wants to Share Potentially Breakthrough Safety Technology

Guardian system designed to catch, correct mistakes made by human drivers.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jan.08, 2019

Toyota's tech chief Gil Pratt is talking with other automakers about using the company's Guardian technology.

While tires may blow out and steering systems might fail, drivers are responsible for at least 90% of all motor vehicle accidents, according to federal data. But what if a vehicle can be equipped with a digital safety system that is constantly watching what the human driver does, ready to step in to correct a potentially dangerous mistake?

That’s the idea behind the Guardian technology Toyota aims to have ready for production by early in the coming decade. Unlike autonomous, or even semi-autonomous driving systems, Guardian isn’t meant to replace the driver but simply wait on vigilant standby, ready to step in and reduce the risk of a crash.

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Toyota is so confident about the strategy it has been meeting with competitors to see if they might be interested in using Guardian on their own vehicles, Gil Pratt, head of the Toyota Research Institute, announced during an appearance at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. (more…)

Toyota Introducing New Automated Test Vehicle in Las Vegas

New vehicle based on fifth-gen Lexus LS flagship.

by Joseph Szczesny on Jan.04, 2019

Toyota's new automated vehicle, the TRI-P4, is based off the Lexus LS sedan and debuts at CES.

Toyota has offered a glimpse of an automated driving test vehicle it plans to show off next week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Toyota Research Institute plans to reveal the TRI-P4, which is based on the fifth-generation Lexus LS flagship sedan and which Toyota plans to use TRI’s development of the two-track Guardian and Chauffeur automated driving system.

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“Our Chauffeur development is focused on full autonomy, where the human is essentially removed from the driving equation, either completely in all environments, or within a restricted driving domain,” said Ryan Eustice, senior vice president of automated driving at TRI.  (more…)

Toyota Using Carma to Get Takata Airbag Recall Done

A simple phone app and a financial reward help with recall rate.

by Michael Strong on Dec.19, 2018

Toyota is partnering with the Carma Project to accelerate the rate of repair of vehicles with Takata airbags.

The ongoing struggle to get car owners with potentially deadly Takata airbags in their vehicles to bring them in for repair is taking a new turn: social media.

Toyota Motor North America and the Carma Project are working together to get more of the vehicles repaired using the internet and rewards to improve the repair rate for vehicles in the largest automotive recall in history.

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The 70 million airbags, used by nearly 20 automakers, including Toyota, can explode with too much force sending pieces of plastic and metal into the vehicle’s cabin. It’s responsible for 24 deaths and hundreds of injuries. (more…)

First Drive: 2018 Ford Ranger

Reborn midsize picking aims to make a big splash.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Dec.18, 2018

Making a splash: the 2019 Ford Ranger FX4 wraps up an off-road run with a mud bath.

(Midsize truck wars heat up with arrival of Ranger, Jeep Gladiator. Click Here for more.)

It’s been more than six years since the last truck rolled out of Ford’s ancient assembly line near Minneapolis, bringing to a seeming end production of the automaker’s archaic Ranger pickup. While Ford was getting ready to launch a new model for international markets, however, it decided to let the venerable Ranger name die in the U.S.

It apparently seemed a good idea at the time. The midsize market was all but dead and even Detroit rivals General Motors and Fiat Chrysler were quitting the segment. Ford execs, all the way up to then-CEO Mark Fields, insisted they could move Ranger buyers up to the larger – and far more profitable – F-150. But a funny thing happened that threw Ford’s strategy into disarray. For the 2015 model-year, GM launched two all-new trucks, the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, triggering a rapid rebound to the seemingly moribund midsize pickup segment.

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After hemming and hawing, Ford finally acknowledged its error and raced to bring the Ranger back to life, heavily modifying the model already on sale in markets as diverse as Abu Dhabi and Thailand. Finally, the 2019 Ranger is getting ready to roll into U.S. showrooms and we had a chance to test its mettle during an extensive on- and off-road drive event in and around San Diego last week.

(more…)

First Drive: 2019 Toyota Prius AWD

Less quirkiness, more practicality.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Dec.13, 2018

The 2019 Toyota Prius comes in an all-wheel drive model that should stimulate sales in cold-weather environs.

When the original Toyota Prius first rolled into U.S. showrooms nearly 20 years ago it promised to transform the auto industry, delivering the sort of fuel economy numbers that seemed all but impossible at the time. Never mind the hatchback’s quirky styling – or perhaps because of it – the Prius quickly developed a broad and loyal following, at its peak becoming the best-selling nameplate in the huge California market.

Sales have been in a slump for several years, however, and a variety of factors, including cheap gas and some odd design choices on the fourth-generation Prius deserve much of the blame, along with the fact that the Toyota hybrid now has lots more competition.

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Yet, even as some of its key competitors are walking away from the passenger car market, Toyota is doubling down and betting it can breathe new life back into Prius. The 2019 model-year brings some modest, if much-needed design tweaks, as well as the introduction of a new electric all-wheel-drive system that, the automaker expects will account for about a quarter of the nameplate’s sales going forward by enhancing the hatchback’s appeal in Snowbelt climes. (more…)

Asian Car Brands: Least Expensive to Repair and Most Reliable

Mazda leads in lowest repair costs for a brand.

by Michael Strong on Dec.13, 2018

Mazda is the automotive brand that is likely to cost the least to repair, averaging less than $300.

With automakers everywhere throwing big red ribbons on top of their cars, trucks and utes telling us ‘tis the season to get a new vehicle, perhaps its best to know which of these new vehicles, or at least the brands, will cost you the least to repair.

That would be Mazda and Kia, according to CarMD, which recently released its annual analysis of 2018 Vehicle Health Index Make and Model Reliability Rankings.

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Mazda’s cost an average of $286 to repair while Kia’s jump to $320. Following those are Dodge, Hyundai and Chrysler. (more…)