Filed under: Acura , BMW , Cadillac , Chevrolet , Chrysler , Infiniti , Lamborghini , Lexus , Mazda , Mercedes-Benz , Nissan , Scion , Toyota , Volkswagen , Volvo Every year in the fast-paced automotive industry brings new models, but it also spells the end for some that have been less successful. This year will be no exception. Japan’s automakers make up the bulk of the list of discontinued models for the 2015 model year: Acura is replacing the TL and TSX with the new TLX sedan, Honda is bidding farewell to the Fit EV as the new Fit hatchback takes its place, and Nissan is saying goodbye to both the Cube and Murano CrossCabriolet . Both the Nissan Maxima and Mazda2 exit stage left before their upcoming replacements arrive, while Toyota is terminating the RAV4 EV and FJ Cruiser as well as the Scion xD , and Lexus IS C and IS F that are being effectively replaced by the new RC . From our own domestic automakers, Cadillac discontinues the CTS-V sedan and wagon as the new CTS rolls in, Chevy is canceling the mild-hybrid Eco versions of the Malibu and Impala sedans, and Chrysler is killing off the 200 convertible as the new 200 sedan arrives. German automakers are also well represented on the list, with BMW splitting the 1 Series coupe and convertible into the new 2 Series line, Mercedes reintegrates the CL-Class coupe into the S-Class family, and Volkswagen is finally killing off the Chrysler -made Routan . Elsewhere in Europe, the long-serving Gallardo is being replaced by the Hurac
Filed under: Minivan/Van , Toyota Toyota found huge success with its “Swagger Wagon” rap video for the 2011 Sienna SE . It showed that a minivan could actually sort of maybe be fun and didn’t have to be a lame vehicle for people who long ago lost their sense of humor. Now that there is a slight refresh for the 2015 model, the company is trying to capture that effervescent image again with a bunch of videos aimed at families. For the latest launch, Toyota is partnering with some family-friendly online video stars and having them show off the Sienna’s features. It’s releasing YouTube videos from the creators of Action Movie Kid and Convos with My 2-Year-Old and a Vine from Eh Bee Family, and they all hope to show that it’s cool to be a family with a minivan. In terms of actual changes, though, the update is pretty light aesthetically, but the new tech inside seems aimed directly at mom and dad. However, unless you’ve got a sharp eye, spotting the exterior refresh might be tough. Toyota is tweaking the front end slightly by adding a dark mesh grille and trim. The headlights are also slightly reshaped to incorporate a new strip of available LED running lights. As they say, it’s what’s on the inside that counts, and there are two, new features that parents with precocious kids are really going to love.
Filed under: Plants/Manufacturing , Toyota , UAW/Unions , Canada Union tactics apparently translate across borders, as Canada’s Unifor may take inspiration from the United Auto Workers’ recent move at the Volkswagen factory in Chattanooga, TN , and establish a local for the Toyota factories in Cambridge and Woodstock. Unifor last attempted to organize the workers at the two factories , which are responsible for production of the Toyota Corolla (above), RAV4 and Lexus RX back in April, but that vote was eventually delayed . According to that report, 3,000 of the two plants’ 7,500 employees signed union cards, but that apparently wasn’t enough for Unifor to force a vote. Because of this, the union is looking at the local approach, like what the UAW is attempting with VW. “We have union halls in Woodstock and Kitchener-Waterloo; they could elect an executive and run monthly membership meetings,” union president Jerry Dias told The Windsor Star. Dias added that the union ” continues to sign up new members on a regular basis .” So what would the benefit to employees be if they sign up with the local? According to The Star, while Unifor couldn’t act as a bargaining agent for the workers, employees would still be able to take part in other union activities. It’s not entirely clear what these include, though, and as the primary mission of a union is to act as a bargaining agent for employees, the idea of a local would appear to leave something on the table. As for when this plan could come to fruition, Dias says a final decision isn’t expected until fall. Unifor may establish local union for Toyota’s Canadian plants originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 17 Jul 2014 13:59:00 EST.
Filed under: Hirings/Firings/Layoffs , Toyota , Design/Style If you want to know who’s been responsible for injecting some attitude into Toyota’s designs in recent years, look to Akihiro Nagaya. As a design executive and as a freelance consultant, the rockstar designer known as Dezi has styled more concept and production cars for Toyota and its Lexus brand than we would dare to count. But now he’s moving to Yamaha . According to Automotive News , Dezi Nagaya moved on July 1 to the Yamaha Motor Company as its general manager of design – a role it had never filled before, choosing to outsource most of its design work. Nagaya’s Facebook page indicates he’s been at Yamaha since January. We don’t know at this point whether Nagaya will be responsible for the design of all of Yamaha’s motor vehicles – including its motorcycles, scooters, ATVs and marine products – or just its automotive operations, but the hire comes at a time when the company has been exploring further involvement in four-wheeled transportation. In the past Yamaha has provided engines for vehicles like the Lexus LFA , Volvo XC90 and Ford Taurus SHO , and toyed with the idea of a supercar with the oddball OX99-11 concept in the early 1990s, but more recently embarked on a partnership with Gordon Murray Design to build the Motiv.e city car. Because Yamaha and Toyota each own a small piece of each other and collaborate on a range of projects, Nagaya’s move is being characterized as a “transfer” between partners instead of a poaching of one company’s employee by another. Toyota design leader Dezi Nagaya moving to Yamaha originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 14 Jul 2014 08:44:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds .
Filed under: Truck , Toyota , Off-Road , Quick Spins Introduced at the end of 2006, this is the last year for the Toyota FJ Cruiser , the reincarnated FJ40-series Land Cruiser that will shortly journey to Takama-ga-hara , the Plain of High Heaven. In its first model year, we drove it to SEMA and found it, shall we say, coarse. It bobbled on the freeway and droned in the cabin, its boxy interior providing four bounce-boards for unpleasant frequencies. Tall mirrors helped one work around the eclipse of vision aft of the B-pillars, but navigating traffic required forethought and technique. Its turning circle was measured in kilometers. For the first two years of its life, it needed premium gas. It may have been fun to look at, but we couldn’t wait to get out of it. That’s not the case anymore, and now the FJ Cruiser is poised to join a long list of vehicles that got better and better, then got axed. Driving Notes The current FJ is rugged, and surprisingly it’s not really all that coarse dynamically. We drove into the California desert, spent nearly a week playing around off-road, drove it back and then did a lazy Sunday drive to Santa Barbara, all in amiable comfort.
Filed under: Sedan , Technology , Toyota , Electric Toyota is requesting an exemption from federal safety regulations that govern electric cars as it prepares to launch a small-scale hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle fleet. The Japanese automaker is targeting Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 305 , which covers the packaging of high-voltage parts in electric cars. According to Uncle Sam, these systems need to be isolated so that passengers and first responders aren’t electrocuted in the event of a crash. That seems pretty smart, but it’s become a problem for Toyota’s upcoming production fuel cell vehicle, as the mechanism that prevents electric shocks in low-speed crashes will apparently simply keep Toyota’s car from even functioning. Instead of the federally approved system, Bloomberg reports that Toyota plans to insulate the high-voltage wires and cables in the car, along with shielding electrical components like the fuel cells, electric motor and batteries with (presumably non-conductive) metal barriers. It’s unclear if the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will bow to Toyota’s request, but the government safety watchdog might be swayed in light of the fact that the company is targeting a very small number of sales – 2,500 per year – and it still has a plan in place to protect first responders and vehicle occupants. Toyota asking NHTSA for fuel cell car safety exemption regarding electric shocks originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 30 Jun 2014 16:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Permalink
Filed under: Plants/Manufacturing , Chevrolet , Chrysler , Dodge , GM , Honda , Toyota , SRT Once again, the most American car on the market is from an American brand. The Ford F-150 retained its number one spot in Cars.com ‘s annual survey of the most American vehicles, trumping the Toyota Camry , which remains at number two. Ford taking the top spot is small consolation, though, as the Detroit Three aren’t too well represented here. General Motors scored a win at number seven, with the Chevrolet Corvette , while Chrysler squeaked in at number ten, with the Dodge Viper . Outside of those three vehicles, Toyota and Honda dominate the top ten. What’s most remarkable, though, is that there were so few cars available for this year’s list. “Only ten cars were eligible for the American-Made Index this year. That’s the fewest in the study’s nine-year history. In 2013, 14 cars met the threshold, 20 in 2012 and 30 cars the year before that,” said Patrick Olsen, Editor-In-Chief of Cars.com . “This consistent decline points to global nature of cars these days.
Filed under: Concept Cars , Convertible , Japan , Videos , Toyota , Toys/Games It’s been two years since Toyota first revealed its Camatte show car at the Tokyo Toy Show. Though sadly never destined for production, Toyota brought the concept back the following year as the Camatte 57s roadster, and is now returning to the same show with yet another take on the kid-friendly, configurable 1+2 with interchangeable body panels – this time with a slew of features that are fresh not only to the concept itself, but to the industry altogether. This year the Camatte is being showcased in two forms: a bare chassis in the Tech Lab that lets kids see the inner workings of a modern automobile, and another in the Design Lab that lets kids draw their own motif for the concept that is then displayed on an LED hood. The overall approach reminds us of the way Toyota’s budget brand Daihatsu unveiled the Kopen roadster concept at the Tokyo Motor Show late last year, only even more kid-focused and decidedly more light-hearted than you might otherwise expect from one of the largest industrial giants in the world, and could only have been made for a toy exposition. In Japan. Which would explain the ridiculously upbeat videos below , where you’ll also find the brief press release. Continue reading Camatte concept puts the Toy back in Toyota [w/videos] Camatte concept puts the Toy back in Toyota [w/videos] originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 16 Jun 2014 10:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Permalink
Filed under: Recalls , Safety , Chrysler , Honda , Mazda , Nissan , Toyota It seems Toyota won’t be the only one recalling the faulty Takata airbag inflators for long. Honda insiders in Japan claim that the company is getting close to announcing its own worldwide campaign that would begin before the end of June. Unnamed sources close to Honda in Japan tell Automotive News that the company is pursuing an internal investigation into possibly affected models and is working with Takata to gather more information. They claim that it could involve even more than the 1.14 million cars worldwide that the automaker covered under the first recall for the problem in April 2013, including 561,000 vehicles in the US. Toyota jumpstarted this process last week when it recalled over 2 million cars worldwide , including 844,277 in the US . Soon after, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began a preliminary evaluation into the issue following six reported incidents, and started assembling data about potentially affected models from Toyota, Honda, Mazda , Nissan , Chrysler . NHTSA also began investigating Takata itself. The safety hazard comes into play because it’s possible that the inflators contain an improper propellant that could cause it to burst in an accident. Not only does this affect airbag deployment, in some cases the shrapnel hits occupants too. So far, all six reported incidents to NHTSA have occurred in high humidity areas like Florida and Puerto Rico.
Filed under: Budget , Marketing/Advertising , Videos , Hatchback , Toyota , Humor We love a good automotive-themed prank. R