Filed under: Minivan/Van , Japan , Videos , Toyota , Luxury A few months back we reported on a dealership owner in Japan who was petitioning Toyota to make a luxury van. The problem, he reasoned, was that he couldn’t take as many friends, colleagues and clients around with him in his Lexus LS , and his Toyota Alphard van wasn’t luxurious enough. Well, it seems like he wasn’t alone, and Toyota has listened. The Japanese auto giant has just revealed the Esquire, a new luxury van designed with just such customers in mind. It’s significantly smaller than the Sienna we get in America, smaller than the aforementioned Alphard and about the same size as (this writer’s favorite) the JDM Noah van (on which we gather it’s based). But what sets the Esquire apart is its upscale appearance. The boxy van is distinguished by its dominant T-shaped chrome grille with a unique emblem that encompasses a shield, sword, “the collar of a gentleman’s suit” and the letters Esq. The flank is characterized by a strong beltline with chrome lower window frame and an expansive greenhouse with tinted rear glass. Inside the flexible cabin you’ll find accommodation for seven or eight passengers (depending on specification), synthetic leather upholstery and wood and metallic trim. There are even wheelchair-enabled models on offer as well.
Filed under: Europe , Japan , Recalls , Safety , Toyota UPDATE: The text below has been amended to include new details provided by Toyota. It looks like 2014 may go down as the year of recalls. We were already at a record pace , and now it seems Toyota is recalling 6.39 million vehicles worldwide, including about 30 of its models for a variety of problems. None of the faults have caused any injuries or fatalities, but there have been two reports of fires caused by a defective engine starter motor. Toyota’s numbers show 1.772 million vehicles being recalled in the US, but that includes some overlap because the Yaris is being repaired for multiple faults. According to The Detroit News , there are 2.36 million affected models in all of north North America, 1.09 million in Japan and 810,000 in Europe, plus smaller numbers in other regions. Toyota tells us that there are 6.76-million faults to repair in total, with those problems spread out over the aforementioned 6.39-million units. Among the vehicles recalled in the US are 1.3 million units of the 2009-2010 Corolla , Matrix and Tacoma , the 2008-2010 Highlander , the 2006-2008 RAV4 and 2006-2010 Yaris . The problem is that the driver’s airbag module is attached via a spiral electrical cable. The connections on the cable can be damaged when the steering wheel is turned, which could deactivate the airbag and cause the airbag warning light to come on.
Filed under: Technology , Toyota Turbocharging isn’t really Toyota’s specialty, and the Japanese automaker isn’t being shy about acknowledging it. Koei Saga, a senior managing officer in charge of drivetrain research and development, says that eschewing turbos and increasing displacement of engines using the Atkinson cycle can produce better power gains without sacrificing fuel economy, Automotive News reports . Toyota is investing heavily in larger-displacement Atkinson-cycle engines in addition to turbocharged engines, but Saga doesn’t think the automaker will use turbocharging across many product lines. He apparently remains unconvinced that the technology “makes the world better.” In Toyota’s eyes then, Atkinson cycle engines do make the world better, and here’s how . Their pistons complete four processes – intake, compression, power and exhaust – in one revolution of the crankshaft, and the power stroke is longer than the compression stroke. Traditional Otto cycle engines require two crankshaft revolutions to accomplish those same four operations and have equal-length compression and power strokes. Atkinson cycle engines are more efficient, but less power dense, though increasing displacement can offset that shortfall. In addition to the aforementioned technologies, Toyota is also investing more in continuously variable and fixed-gear automatic transmissions, as well as its fuel-cell vehicle program. As for electric vehicles? Saga is skeptical of them, stating that Toyota wouldn’t have developed the RAV4 EV if it weren’t forced to comply with California Air Resource Board regulations.
Filed under: Hybrid , Technology , BMW , Toyota , Electric Back in June , Toyota and BMW announced a “memorandum of understanding” outlining plans for the two companies to join forces on future products and technology development. On Thursday, they signed a more formal and binding agreement that goes further into detail about the partnership, and it all sounds pretty exciting. The two announced they will work together in four main areas: Joint development of a fuel cell system “Set up a feasibility study to define a joint platform concept for a mid-size sports vehicle” Focus on lightweight technology – the agreement mentions reinforced composites that could be used in the aforementioned sports vehicle Better batteries – the companies will work to develop a lithium-air battery with a much greater energy density than today’s cells. The most intriguing item is the mention of a “mid-size sports vehicle.” The vague term had us wondering what, exactly, is meant by “sports vehicle,” but we’re being assured this feasibility study is centered on a sports car. Is this the first step toward a Supra revival? Despite our fervor for all things sports car, however, fuel cell research could prove to be the pact’s most important point. Both companies have built advanced fuel research vehicles, with Toyota favoring fuel cells and BMW leaning toward hydrogen-powered , internal combustion. The press release specifically lists fuel cell stacks, hydrogen tanks, motors and batteries as areas of interest. If the two can eventually bring a fuel-cell vehicle to market at an affordable price point, it would be huge news, although there’s always the problem of infrastructure to support such cars. BMW and Toyota’s new deal can’t solve everything though, right?
Filed under: Concept Cars , Coupe , Performance , Etc. , Technology , Videos , Toyota , Toys/Games Toyota just launched a new iPhone app that lets users position computer-generated renderings of the upcoming FT-86 sports car against real-world backdrops and then share them with other users. Judging from the video Toyota released to promote the app, Instagram shouldn’t feel threatened; the renderings aren’t exactly stellar, and the novelty of positioning a CGI FT-86 on your iPhone screen is likely to wear off quickly. Fortunately, the app is free. Just remember, kids, you get what you pay for. Hit the jump for a look at the aforementioned promo video. Continue reading Toyota launches new FT-86… app Toyota launches new FT-86… app originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 22 Oct 2011 14:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds .
Filed under: Government/Legal , Marketing/Advertising , Toyota Anyone out there interested in having a crazy stalker? How about if that stalker had personal information such as your home address, email and phone number? Nope, doesn’t sound like much fun to us, either. T hat’s exactly what happened to Amber Duick , a woman from California who claims she was duped into signing up for a five-day stalking, courtesy of the marketing team at Saatchi & Saatchi, on behalf of Toyota . One of Amber’s so-called friends decided it would be funny if she had an online stalker, so he forwarded her an email for a “personality test” that was actually an application to be punked. It was all part of a campaign in 2009 for the Toyota Matrix called “Your Other You.” Duick’s made-up “stalker” was named Sebastian Bowler, a 25-year-old soccer fanatic from England with a drinking problem and a pit bull named Trigger. According to a series of emails sent to Duick, Bowler was on his way to her home and planned to sleep on her couch for a few nights after running into problems with the law. Eventually, Duick was informed via an emailed video link that she was being pranked. Haha, very funny. Duick sued.