Filed under: Government/Legal , Recalls , Safety , Toyota , Earnings/Financials UPDATE: Just like that, Toyota has released an official statement confirming its $1.2-billion dollar settlement with the US Attorney’s Office. Our story has been updated to reflect this development and the automaker’s official statement has been added below . Toyota has reached a settlement over the criminal probe into its unintended acceleration problems, and the outcome is more expensive than first expected. The Japanese automaker has agreed to pay $1.2 billion to close the investigation among other settlement terms. The criminal inquiry focused on whether the company kept information from regulators and how it handled drivers’ complaints about the problems, according to the sources. Between 2009 and 2010, Toyota ended up recalling over 10 million vehicles worldwide over sudden acceleration fears. Fixes include modifying floor mats, gas pedals, and installing brake override software on affected models. In addition, Toyota made the latter standard on all of its new vehicles. The first rumblings of a settlement broke last month when “people familiar with the matter” revealed a possible billion-dollar agreement . That rumor suggested that the deal would also include criminal deferred prosecution arrangement that would force Toyota to accept responsibility but let it avoid federal criminal convictions.
Filed under: Hybrid , Sedan , Toyota , New Car Reviews People, us included, make a big stink about the importance of family sedans. There’s no doubt they’re critical – they represent a huge slice of the market’s annual sales and profits. However, despite accounting for far fewer transactions than the midsize sedan segment, the fullsize sedan is getting attention from manufacturers now that our market’s entire lineup of those (slightly) smaller four-doors has turned over in the last two years or so. As most of the fullsize segment’s mainstays derive a fair bit of their platform and powertrain technologies from their midsize cousins, these larger four-doors offer the potential for fatter profit margins, too. And with the newly stylish duds found on many of the industry’s most successful midsize sedans, it’s only right that automakers no longer think about fullsizers as big, squishy, vanilla family haulers with flat seats, vague steering and a thin layer of ‘luxury’ in the form of faux wood trim. As manufacturers have again started diving into large sedans feet-first, the cars themselves have become sharper. The interiors are now of a higher quality and loaded with tech, while the exteriors have become further extensions of each manufacturer’s design language. There’s perhaps no greater example of this than the Chevrolet Impala and Ford Taurus , two models that evolved from subpar offerings into market leaders. This segment-wide transformation happened quite quickly, whether because of coincidental timing or because manufacturers are trying to get more out of their big cars, recognizing they account for a small portion of overall sales (just 3.5 percent of the new-car market in the first half of 2013). The 2013 Toyota Avalon Hybrid is one such vehicle.
Filed under: Safety , Technology , Lexus , Toyota A number of automakers are working on developing fully autonomous cars , but it looks like the groundwork for such technologies will likely show up first as semi-autonomous systems for both safety and convenience. Following recent announcements from Nissan and Ford in this area, Toyota has now released information for some of its advanced semi-autonomous technologies that could be offered in production cars over the next few years. On the safety front, Toyota’s new pre-collision system with pedestrian-avoidance steering assist is aimed at protecting the folks who aren’t in the car. This system combines visual and audible alerts with automatic brake assist and automatic steering. If warnings don’t get the driver to slow down, the brake assist kicks in if a collision is very likely, but if that is still not able to avoid the impending collision (and if there is enough room to do so), the car can automatically steer itself around the pedestrian. This sounds most beneficial for last-second dangers such as a person accidently stepping out into the road in front of a car. Toyota hopes to have this technology available to customers by 2015. The Japanese automaker is also testing a suite of technologies called Automated Highway Driving Assist (AHDA). The key part of this is a new adaptive cruise control system that uses vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications rather than a radar-based system. This cooperative-adaptive cruise control allows vehicles to communicate their acceleration and deceleration data with other cars, which Toyota says this helps to improve fuel efficiency and traffic flow.
Filed under: Plants/Manufacturing , Toyota A growing number of foreign automakers have been shifting more vehicle production to the US – including recent announcement by Nissan and Honda – but Toyota could be on the verge of taking an unprecedented step by producing all of the cars it sells in the US right here in North America. According to the Detroit Free Press , Bill Fay, VP and GM of Toyota US, hinted at such a possibility, but the wording in the report makes it sound like this is far from a done deal and would not apply to Scion or Lexus models. Currently, the automaker already builds 70 percent of its US-sold cars in North America including some of its more popular models like the Camry , Corolla , Highlander , Tacoma and RAV4 . While most of the Japanese-made Toyotas that are sold in the US are slower-selling models (like Land Cruiser , FJ Cruiser and Yaris ), the Prius lineup is the glaring exception, and last we heard, Toyota still has plans to ship Prius production to the US by 2015 . This is all a part of Toyota’s plan to add 3,500 jobs in North America to go with recent investments totaling $1.6 billion. Toyota exec sees future where all cars sold in US are built here originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 20 Jan 2013 16:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Permalink
Filed under: Government/Legal , Safety , Toyota , Earnings/Financials The Toyota settlement recently submitted to US District Judge James Selna for approval will cost the company anywhere from $1 billion to $1.4 billion. All to settle the class-action suit brought against it for economic losses stemming from claims of unintended acceleration . This suit only addresses the perceived loss-of-value that Toyota owners and lessees feel they have suffered, alleging their cars were the victims of unintended depreciation even if they did not directly suffer from the alleged cases of unintended/sudden acceleration. This is a separate case than the wrongful death suits brought about by the unintended acceleration brouhaha. When the settlement was announced, this was the overview of its payouts: Toyota will install brake override systems in all 3.25 million vehicles subjected to the floor mat entrapment recall . Another fund of $250 million will compensate current owners whose vehicles are not eligible for the free brake override system. A fund of $250 million will compensate former Toyota owners who sold their cars from September 1, 2009 through December 31, 2010 for lost value. Education grants valued at $30 million will be made to independent academic institutions to further study auto safety and enhance driver education. All 16 million current Toyota owners will be eligible for a customer care plan that warrants certain parts allegedly related to unintended acceleration for three to 10 years. Car and Driver attempts to break down where all that largesse is going, and who’s going to get large off of it.
Toyota proposes economic loss settlement worth up to $1.4 billion over unintended acceleration claims
Filed under: Government/Legal , Recalls , Safety , Toyota , Earnings/Financials Toyota announced a proposal today worth over a billion dollars to settle civil claims of economic loss related to alleged cases of sudden unintended acceleration in its vehicles from 2009-2010. Estimates place the cost of the settlement between $1.1 billion and $1.4 billion, which would, according to lawyers for the plaintiffs, make it the largest of its type in US history. US District Judge James Selna, who is presiding over the case in California, will review Toyota’s settlement proposal as early as Friday. The details of the settlement, as given by Toyota in an official statement and obtained from a press release issued by lawyers for the plaintiffs, are as follows. Toyota will install brake override systems in all 3.25 million vehicles subjected to the floor mat entrapment recall . A fund of $250 million will compensate former Toyota owners who sold their cars from September 1, 2009 through December 31, 2010 for lost value. Another fund of $250 million will compensate current owners whose vehicles are not eligible for the free brake override system. All 16 million current Toyota owners will be eligible for a customer care plan that warrants certain parts allegedly related to unintended acceleration for three to 10 years. Education grants valued at $30 million will be made to independent academic institutions to further study auto safety and enhance driver education. As mentioned above, the settlement relates only to claims of economic loss, and thus does not cover wrongful death claims, the first trail for which is slated to begin in February 2013.
Filed under: Europe , Ford , Hyundai , Mercedes-Benz , Subaru , Toyota , Volkswagen , Volvo , Renault , Peugeot Electric cars may have won the European Car of the Year award two years in a row now ( Opel Ampera in 2012, and Nissan Leaf in 2011), we can say without reservation that the 2013 ECotY will be a petrol-burning, internal combustionizer. That’s because not a single electric vehicle made it to the contest’s final round. But eight other cars did. At the top of the alphabetical list is Ford’s Fiesta -based, B-Max MPV. Five doors, good ride and fuel-efficient, award-winning engine choices are some of the reasons it makes the list. Next is the Hyundai i30 , known as the Elantra GT Stateside , with either five or three doors, a roomy cabin and a 1.6-liter CRDi engine. The nominating committee commends the handsome hatch for improved exterior aesthetics and a multilink suspension that “shows in ride and handling.” Mercedes gets the next spot with its hot hatch: the turbocharged A-Class , followed by another hatch, the Peugeot 208 . The next finalist is from another marque we haven’t seen in the States for quite some time – the fourth-generation Renault Clio , followed by the Subaru / Toyota dynamic duo of BRZ and the GT86 . The last two contenders are the all-new Volkswagen Golf and the svelte Volvo V40 . The European Car of the Year will be announced in early March after the jury has tallied its votes.
Filed under: Car Buying , Toyota After dealing with flailing global economies, numerous recalls and safety allegations and then the depleted inventory from the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Experian Automotive says that Toyota is finally back on top when it comes to consumer loyalty in the US. Toyota edged out General Motors and Ford Motor Company to grab this loyalty crown for the first time since the third quarter of 2009. The metric for this title was determined by owners of a vehicle choosing from the same corporate automaker for their next vehicle purchase. For Toyota, this means that 47.3 percent of its current customers will purchase a Scion , Lexus or Toyota model as their next car compared to 46.2 percent for GM and 46 percent for Ford. Honda and Hyundai rounded out the top five in this list. In terms of individual brand loyalty – when buyers come back to the same brand – Ford took the spot in this category with 44.7 percent of buyers returning to the Ford showroom for their next purchase, including six cars in the top 10 for overall loyalty. Ford Fusion customers are the most loyal with 59.9 percent buying another Ford, but Flex , Edge , Five Hundred, Escape and Fiesta are all in the top 10. Oddly enough, the top vehicle among brand loyalty was the Chevrolet Sonic (which has only been on the market for less than a year – we’re not sure what to make of that…) with 60.3 percent of its buyers trading in for another Chevy product. Other interesting facts to note from Experian Automotive’s study include the median age of vehicles has increased from 9.8 years up to 10.8 years since 2008, indicating that people are keeping their cars for an extra year before trading them in. Besides Toyota, Chrysler was the only automaker listed as having increased its market share and vehicle purchases in the second quarter of this year.
Filed under: Hatchback , Toyota , Electric 2012 was supposed to be the year the all-electric version of the Toyota / Scion iQ made a splash. Instead, it appears that while it remains technically true that the iQ EV will launch this year, it will be a much, much smaller splash than previously anticipated. According to Reuters , the iQ will have an “extremely limited release.” That’s a kind way to say that the 100 iQ EVs that Reuters says Toyota will now sell in the U.S. and Japan is a much smaller figure than was anticipated. The writing has been on the wall for a while. All the way back in 2009, Toyota hinted that the EV, which can only go 50 miles on a charge, might be destined for car-sharing services , and in 2011, a Toyota spokesperson confirmed the iQ EV would be a ” low-volume vehicle .” Now, the official Toyota line (see below ) is that: Toyota has seen that many customers are not yet willing to compromise on range, and they don’t like the time needed to re-charge the batteries. Moreover, the infrastructure for recharging has not become as widespread as originally anticipated. So, even though Toyota is ready with the iQ EV, we believe a plug-in hybrid solution offers a better way than pure electric for most customer needs in the short- to medium-term, and that is where we will concentrate our commercial activities . Toyota vice chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada tells Reuters , “The current capabilities of electric vehicles do not meet society’s needs, whether it may be the distance the cars can run, or the costs, or how it takes a long time to charge.” Compare this attitude to the one displayed by Daimler , which today has hundreds of Smart Electric Drive vehicles functioning as car-sharing rides through its Car2go program in places like San Diego, CA and Austin, TX. Toyota will still move forward with the launch of the RAV4 EV, and expects to sell around 2,600 of them in the next three years .
Filed under: Car Buying , BMW , Honda , Lexus , Mercedes-Benz , Toyota , Volkswagen , Luxury Perhaps the most frustrating thing about being mired in the 99% is that due to the prevalence of reality-distorting TV and the booming personal security business, we really have no idea what it’s like to be Mitt Romney , Donald Trump or one of the Koch brothers. At least in the olden days, we plebs could point and stare, mouths agape as the robber barons rode through city streets in their jewel-encrusted carriages. But today? Good luck catching a glimpse of Trump’s platinum-dipped Maybach or the plutonium-burning hovercrafts that the Koch’s use to fly to their secret Tea Party Illuminati meetings. What’s that? Rich people buy their cars at dealerships just like we do? Yep, and according to a new study from TrueCar , Mr. and Mrs. Moneybags don’t go in for luxury models nearly as completely as you’d think. TrueCar has released a list of the top 10 most popular cars in the wealthiest zip codes in the U.S.