Weekly Recap: BMW rolls out ambitious plug-in hybrid electric plan

Weekly Recap: BMW rolls out ambitious plug-in hybrid electric plan

December 7, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Filed under: Hybrid , Performance , Truck , Technology , Aston Martin , BMW , Chevrolet , Toyota , Electric , Luxury , Emissions “We believe that for the United States, this is going to be very important.” – Julian Arguelles Let there be no doubt, BMW is serious about electric vehicles. The German automaker said this week it will make plug-in hybrid versions of all of its core models, an aggressive move that demonstrates its commitment to electric propulsion systems. BMW did not specify which vehicles will get the plug-in systems or provide a timeline for when they will arrive. But the announcement is clearly more than blustering, and the company revealed a 3 Series plug-in prototype this week at an event in France. BMW said the 3 Series uses a version of its 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine (240 horsepower, 300 pound feet of torque) with an electric motor sandwiched between the engine and transmission in place of the torque converter. It has an all-electric range of 22 miles. A plug-in X5 with the same powertrain was also displayed alongside the 3 Series, though the X5 has been on the auto-show circuit for more than a year, including a recent stop in Los Angeles . Continue reading Weekly Recap: BMW rolls out ambitious plug-in hybrid electric plan Weekly Recap: BMW rolls out ambitious plug-in hybrid electric plan originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 06 Dec 2014 11:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Permalink

Next-gen Toyota Tacoma to debut at Detroit Auto Show

Next-gen Toyota Tacoma to debut at Detroit Auto Show

December 5, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Filed under: Detroit Auto Show , Performance , Truck , Lexus , Toyota , Luxury Toyota’s confirmation comes on the heels of General Motors’ successful launch of its own midsize pickups. The next generation of the Toyota Tacoma pickup truck will be revealed in January at the Detroit Auto Show , a top executive confirmed Thursday. Bob Carter, senior vice president of automotive operations for Toyota , offered no other details, but the new version of the pickup is expected to have significant upgrades compared with the aging model on sale now. Our spy shooters caught a prototype testing this summer, and rumors of the new generation have been swirling for months. We’ve also previously reported that Toyota is planning to ramp up production next April at a factory in Mexico that builds the Tacoma. Toyota’s confirmation comes on the heels of General Motors ‘ successful launch of its own midsize pickups, the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon , which have garnered awards, positive reviews and solid sales since they arrived in showrooms this fall. It’s unclear how large the new Tacoma will be, especially considering that the Canyon and Colorado flirt with fullsize territory. The Tacoma was last updated in 2012, and the segment has changed dramatically since then with the addition of the GM trucks. Another Tacoma competitor, Honda’s aging Ridgeline , is also expected to re-launch in 2015 , which would leave the Nissan Frontier as the oldest truck in the field. Tacoma sales have slipped 4.1 percent to 140,757 units this year, though they posted a 3.3-percent gain in November.

Toyota calling for independent, industry-wide Takata airbag testing

Toyota calling for independent, industry-wide Takata airbag testing

December 3, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Filed under: Safety , Toyota The initiative is still very new, and there’s no set timeframe for this third-party testing to begin. With Takata’s airbag inflator recall expanding nationwide soon , the scope of this safety campaign is only growing, and is set to affect millions of additional vehicles. Toyota thinks that it can help, though. The Japanese automaker has announced an initiative to get all of the affected companies to band together to fund independent, third-party testing of the faulty components. The goal of this work is to “ensure the inflators that require replacement are accurately identified and promptly fixed,” according to Toyota. All of the data would be shared among the participating automakers to better understand the causes of these problems, which still aren’t entirely known , and come up with the best way to repair the affected vehicles. “By combining our collective efforts behind a coordinated, comprehensive testing program, we believe we can achieve greater results. Together we will be better equipped to address this issue more rapidly for all customers,” said Simon Nagata, President and CEO, Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America, in the company’s release. According to Toyota spokesperson Cindy Knight speaking to Autoblog , the initiative is still very new, and there’s no set timeframe for this third-party testing to begin. The automaker’s first step is simply getting the word out that it’s looking for partners.

Owner reflects on his $20.91 Toyota unintended acceleration settlement check

Owner reflects on his $20.91 Toyota unintended acceleration settlement check

November 29, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Filed under: Government/Legal , Toyota , Ownership Where General Motors and Takata have grabbed many auto safety-related headlines this year with their problems with ignition switches and airbag inflators, a few years ago, a similar sort of scrutiny fell on Toyota for unintended acceleration. After multiple settlements with various parties totaling billions of dollars , the issues seem largely behind the Japanese automaker now. Owners are actually starting to receive their money, but it isn’t exactly breaking the bank. Payouts are expected to be between $37 and $125 per person. Computer science student Jonathan Sourbeer received a check for just $20.91, and he considers what that money actually means in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal . Sourbeer’s biggest gripe is that the roughly 85 lawyers in the case are receiving $227 million in attorneys’ fees and expenses, while the 25 primary plaintiffs and class representatives receive a total of just $395,270. According to the Frequently Asked Questions about the settlement, Toyota set up a $250 million fund to pay affected owners, as well . The money isn’t for injuries or damages but for alleged economic loss to the vehicles. However, Sourbeer says he feels no personal suffering and still has the same car. In addition to the settlement, the automaker obviously has its own legal fees to deal with, as well.

Watch this dude paint his Toyota pickup like Eddie Van Halen’s guitar

Watch this dude paint his Toyota pickup like Eddie Van Halen’s guitar

November 28, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Filed under: Truck , Videos , Toyota , Design/Style Eddie van Halen is one of the greatest rock musicians around, and his Eruption guitar solo alone puts him in the pantheon with the best of the best. Artist Ryan Humphrey was looking for a design to repaint his ratty Toyota pickup, and as a Van Halen super fan, he set on the classic scheme of Eddie’s guitar for the look. The paint job is made up of a crisscrossing geometric pattern of black and white stripes with a red body. The eye-catching, rock-inspired design should give Humphrey no problems finding his pickup in a parking lot. In a video hosted by Plutonium Paint, he shows you how to get the look using the company’s product. Even if you’re not interested in watching a guy paint his old truck, the video is still enjoyable just for the chance to listen to some Van Halen tunes. Continue reading Watch this dude paint his Toyota pickup like Eddie Van Halen’s guitar Watch this dude paint his Toyota pickup like Eddie Van Halen’s guitar originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 27 Nov 2014 19:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Permalink

Translogic 164: Driving the fuel cell vehicles of the 2014 LA Auto Show

Translogic 164: Driving the fuel cell vehicles of the 2014 LA Auto Show

November 27, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Filed under: LA Auto Show , Videos , Audi , Toyota , Volkswagen , Electric , Translogic , Technology The LA Auto Show is known for its environmentally friendly vehicle debuts. At last year’s show , hydrogen fuel cell concepts from Honda and Toyota joined a lease-ready Hyundai Tuscan FCEV to cast a green hue over the convention center. This year, automakers took us a step closer to a fuel cell future by offering drives of their hydrogen-electric hybrids. Translogic host Jonathon Buckley takes a ride in the Toyota Mirai , which is headed for production in 2016. He follows that with a spin in the Volkswagen Passat HyMotion and the Audi A7 Sportback h-tron quattro concept. Which of these fuel cell vehicles holds the most promise? Tune in to find out. Continue reading Translogic 164: Driving the fuel cell vehicles of the 2014 LA Auto Show Translogic 164: Driving the fuel cell vehicles of the 2014 LA Auto Show originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 26 Nov 2014 12:45:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Permalink

Scion rules out roadster, turbo versions of FR-S

Scion rules out roadster, turbo versions of FR-S

November 26, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Filed under: Convertible , Coupe , Performance , Scion , Toyota Ever since Toyota and Subaru released the sports car alternatively known as the GT86, 86, BRZ and Scion FR-S a couple of years ago, rumors have circulated that even more exciting variants could be in store. But at least as far as Scion is concerned, those rumors are apparently nothing more than wishful thinking. Speaking with WardsAuto at the LA Auto Show last week, Scion chief Doug Murtha said that the prospect of an FR-S roadster has been taken off the table entirely. Apparently Scion lobbied parent company Toyota to produce just such a model, but after failing to find other markets interested enough in the model to put it into production, corporate HQ said no. “I think we were pretty aggressive on our (submitted plan), but we looked at what we would have conceivably lost on the product and said, ‘We’re not going to even push it further,'” Murtha said, going on to note, “Nobody was more disappointed than we were.” Murtha further shot down the idea of a turbo version of the FR-S, dismissing it as a prospect the blogosphere (that’s us) wanted to happen but “that’s not something that’s coming.” Either variant might have helped Scion and Toyota boost sales of the model (which are predictably dropping after their first two years on the market), but the investment also might not have paid off their development, tooling and marketing costs. Of course, Murtha can only speak for Toyota, but we’d be surprised to see Subaru go it alone on either model, as costs would be that much more prohibitive without a partner. Bummer. Scion rules out roadster, turbo versions of FR-S originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 25 Nov 2014 11:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Permalink

Weekly Recap: Racing legend Jim Hall explains Chevy’s futuristic Chaparral concept

Weekly Recap: Racing legend Jim Hall explains Chevy’s futuristic Chaparral concept

November 22, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Filed under: Concept Cars , LA Auto Show , Motorsports , Performance , Chevrolet , Lincoln , Toyota , Ferrari , Design/Style “I said our cars are built to be winners.” – Jim Hall Racing legend Jim Hall never thought he’d be a video game consultant, but when Chevrolet asked for his advice to create a futuristic Chaparral for the Vision Gran Turismo series, he was eager to help. He reviewed early sketches and suggested some changes that made it onto the concept, including the addition of a camera that’s mounted onto a mast over the cabin to aid the driver. The Chevy Chaparral 2X Vision Gran Turismo concept was revealed this week at the Los Angeles Auto Show and will be part of a downloadable update for PlayStation 3’s Gran Turismo 6 in December. Theoretically, at least, it uses a laser-beam propulsion system and an air-powered generator to produce 900 horsepower in the video game. It’s capable of sprinting to 60 miles per hour in 1.5 seconds en route to a top speed of 240 mph. Continue reading Weekly Recap: Racing legend Jim Hall explains Chevy’s futuristic Chaparral concept Weekly Recap: Racing legend Jim Hall explains Chevy’s futuristic Chaparral concept originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 22 Nov 2014 11:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Permalink

Chrysler, Nissan minivans earn ‘dire’ crash test results, says IIHS [w/video]

Chrysler, Nissan minivans earn ‘dire’ crash test results, says IIHS [w/video]

November 22, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Filed under: Minivan/Van , Safety , Videos , Chrysler , Dodge , Nissan , Toyota First introduced in 2012, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s small-overlap frontal crash test has become the bane of many auto engineers’ existence. It’s a particularly steep design challenge because it forces just 25 percent of a vehicle’s front end to take the brunt of a 40-mile-per-hour impact. The newly released results of four family-minded minivans underscore just how difficult the crash test is: only one scored an Acceptable rating, and the other three did very poorly. The 2008-2015 Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan , plus the 2011-2015 Nissan Quest , all received Poor ratings in the test, the IIHS’ lowest possible score. The three of them showed significant crash intrusion into the driver’s area. The dummy in the Nissan actually had to be cut out of the vehicle, with an IIHS spokesperson remarking, “the structure collapsed like a house of cards.” In the Fiat Chrysler Automobile vans, the steering wheels moved out of the way, making the airbag less effective and letting the driver’s head hit the dashboard. While it was not actually crashed, the agency is also giving the 2009-12 Volkswagen Routan a Poor score because it shares a structure with the FCA models. The newly released results of four minivans underscore just how difficult the small-offset crash test is. The refreshed 2015 Toyota Sienna (shown), conversely, earned an Acceptable rating and is also a Top Safety Pick+ because of its optional forward collision warning and automatic braking system. While the crash test dummy moved around during the impact more than the agency would have liked, sensors showed a low risk of injuries.

Retro review of the twin-turbo Toyota Supra you missed in the ’90s

Retro review of the twin-turbo Toyota Supra you missed in the ’90s

November 22, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Filed under: Classics , Coupe , Performance , Videos , Toyota The twin-turbo fourth-generation Toyota Supra has slowly built up a reputation as one of the premiere sports coupes of the 1990s. The image was partially helped by its inclusion in the original The Fast and the Furious in 2001, but even before that it was part of the quartet of Japanese performance machines along with the Acura NSX , Mazda RX-7 and Nissan 300ZX Twin-Turbo that defined speed for a generation of enthusiasts. Thanks to Motorweek ‘s Retro Review series, now we get a chance to hear opinions on the Toyota from its original release. Two things strike the viewer in the review. First, it shows what a performance standout the Supra TT is. A run to 60 miles per hour in 5.1 seconds and 14 seconds in the quarter mile is strong against its contemporaries and makes it hardly a slouch today. The second surprising thing is just how flabbergasted the reviewers seem at the coupe. The price is up about $8,000 from the previous year, and MotorWeek isn’t entirely impressed with the Toyota’s weight saving measures that make the fourth-generation Supra a bit more raw than the last model. The great thing about these retro takes is that there’s no nostalgia in the way to cloud the reviewers’ judgment. Check out the video to find out how the twin-turbo Supra was received before it became part of the performance pantheon.

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