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
Filed under: Etc. , Marketing/Advertising , Toyota Ever wonder where automakers get the names for their cars? You’re not alone. The sitcom Seinfeld opened Episode 94 – the one where George Costanza buys a Chrysler LeBaron instead of a Volvo – with a bit about nameplates like Integra, Supra and Impreza. Toyota , clearly, is not exempt from choosing evocative but enigmatic names for its models, and now the Japanese automaker is taking us through the etymology of some of its nameplates. Names like Supra may require no clarification, but what about Camry ? That comes from the Japanese word kanmuri for Crown (which is, incidentally, the name of another Toyota sedan). Yaris ? According to the company, it’s “an amalgamation of words from Greek mythology and German. In Greek mythology, ‘Charis’ was a symbol of beauty and elegance.
Filed under: Recalls , Safety , Acura , BMW , Buick , Cadillac , Chevrolet , GM , GMC , Honda , Infiniti , Lexus , Mazda , Nissan , Pontiac , Toyota The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Department of Transportation are taking the unusual step of issuing a followup press release urging owners of certain recalled vehicles “to act immediately” to fix their cars and trucks. The problem in question concerns the repair campaigns for rupturing Takata airbag inflators issued in June and covers a long list of models from Toyota , Lexus , Honda , Acura , Mazda , BMW , Nissan , Infiniti , Buick , Cadillac , Chevrolet , GMC , Oldsmobile and Pontiac . While NHSTA doesn’t specifically say why the recall is vital in the new release, Toyota’s own explanation in its newly announced renotification campaign earlier today sheds some new light on the topic. According to the Japanese automaker, in testing, Takata found a possible link between the rupturing airbag inflators and high humidity. NHTSA is advocating that all owners pursue repairs immediately if they haven’t already done so already. This is especially crucial for those drivers especially in Florida, Puerto Rico, Guam, Saipan, American Samoa, Virgin Islands and Hawaii because of the humid conditions there. We don’t need to tell you how dangerous an inadvertent airbag deployment could be – even in a stationary vehicle – but adding to the Takata issue is fears that the deployment could lead to s hrapnel being sprayed into the cabin . If you’re unsure whether your vehicle is covered under this campaign, NHTSA has a new VIN lookup tool for all recalls recently that could be handy in this situation. Scroll down for the full list of potentially affected models and the agency’s statement – there are upwards of nearly five million vehicles that could be affected. Continue reading NHTSA urges owners of recalled Takata airbag vehicles to take immediate action NHTSA urges owners of recalled Takata airbag vehicles to take immediate action originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 20 Oct 2014 13:30:00 EST.
Filed under: Hybrid , Sedan , Recalls , Safety , Toyota UPDATE : The limited service campaign issued by Toyota, and reported on by Consumer Reports, is actually unchanged from our earlier report in July . New reports led us to believe that there was further action regarding the Camry Hybrid brake fluid reservoir issue, but ultimately the same campaign was at the root of it. We apologize for indicating otherwise. It looks like Consumer Reports might be getting part of what it wants regarding the Toyota Camry Hybrid and its braking system. Toyota is issuing what it calls a limited service campaign, rather than a full recall, covering about 177,500 of the hybrid sedans from the 2007 through 2011 model years because of an issue with the cars’ brake fluid reservoirs. The models have a filter separating two chambers of the brake fluid reservoir, and the part can get clogged over time. If this happens, the fluid level in one of the chambers can get too low and eventually cause the power assist to fail. There are multiple warning lights on the dashboard that illuminate over time if the filter gets obstructed, though. The company is replacing the entire reservoir with an improved unit, and the fix takes about two hours to perform. Consumer Reports recently began asking for a recall on these models for the potentially clogged filters.
Filed under: Hybrid , Sedan , Recalls , Safety , Toyota It looks like Consumer Reports might be getting part of what it wants regarding the Toyota Camry Hybrid and its braking system. Toyota is issuing what it calls a limited service campaign, rather than a full recall, covering about 177,500 of the hybrid sedans from the 2007 through 2011 model years because of an issue with the cars’ brake fluid reservoirs. The models have a filter separating two chambers of the brake fluid reservoir, and the part can get clogged over time. If this happens, the fluid level in one of the chambers can get too low and eventually cause the power assist to fail. There are multiple warning lights on the dashboard that illuminate over time if the filter gets obstructed, though. The company is replacing the entire reservoir with an improved unit, and the fix takes about two hours to perform. Consumer Reports recently began asking for a recall on these models for the potentially clogged filters. The magazine also reported a second issue with the ABS brake actuator that could lead to a difficult to depress brake, but Toyota has increased the warranty on the part to 10 years or 150,000 miles. Toyota spokesperson Cindy Knight explained why this isn’t a full recall to Autoblog via email. “If Toyota determines that an issue presents an ‘unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety,’ per the Safety Act, the company will conduct a safety recall,” she said.
Filed under: Car Buying , Minivan/Van , Chrysler , Ford , GM , Honda , Hyundai , Kia , Toyota , Earnings/Financials Residual values for last year’s minivans are higher than they were in 2000. Much like the station wagon was the shuttle of Baby Boomer generation, the minivan has been the primary means of transport for Generations X and Y. Just as the boomers abandoned the Country Squire, though, those kids that were toted around in Grand Caravans and Windstars are adults, and they certainly don’t want to be seen in the cars their parents drove. So why, then, are there still some brands holding out in the minivan market? Chrysler has already announced that a new Town & Country will arrive in the next few years, the Kia Sedona has just been given a massive redesign and both the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey remain strong products despite being in the middle of crossover-heavy lineups. The simple answer? It’s all about the money. “They’re good moneymakers,” George Girjel, owner of Toyota of Cool Springs in Tennessee, told Automotive News . “And the more loaded they are, the faster they sell. The Sienna Limited retails for about $49,000, and we can’t keep any in stock.
Filed under: Hirings/Firings/Layoffs , Plants/Manufacturing , Toyota Toyota’s North American CEO Jim Lentz has already given us a rough idea of what prompted the company’s surprise move to the Dallas suburb of Plano, TX from its longstanding headquarters in Torrance, CA. A new story from The Los Angeles Times , though, delivers even more detail from Lentz on the reasoning for the move, what other cities were considered and why the company’s current host city wasn’t even in the running. Of course, one of the more popular reasons being bandied about includes the $40 million Texas was set to give the company for the move, as well as the state’s generous tax rates. According to Lentz, though, the reason Toyota chose Plano over a group of finalists made up of Atlanta, Charlotte and Denver, was far simpler than that – it was about consolidating its marketing, sales, engineering and production teams in a region that’s closer to the company’s seat of manufacturing in the south. “It doesn’t make sense to have oversight of manufacturing 2,000 miles away from where the cars were made,” Lentz told The Times. “Geography is the reason not to have our headquarters in California.” Geography isn’t the only reason, though. Toyota is aiming for a more harmonious coming together of its far-flung and disparate divisions, which is something that couldn’t be provided by moving everyone to Torrance. “We needed a neutral site,” Lentz said, pointing out that moving engineering employees based in Kentucky to Torrance could give the impression that “sales was taking over.” Lentz said a conversation with Global President Akio Toyoda kick started the idea of moving, as the company sought to organize its North American business “for the next 50 years.” As for why Plano won, there are a number of reasons, one of which was the area’s cost of living. According to The Times , the average house in the LA area costs $515,000 – in Dallas, it’s less than half that, at $217,500. Toyota also considered the climate, access to direct flights to Japan (Plano is served by the sprawling Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport) and the quality of the area’s schools as factors behind Plano’s victory.
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.