Filed under: Technology , Toyota Toyota executives say the company’s primary focus is on safety. At least for the time being, that means the company won’t pursue development of a driverless car. Speaking at the company’s advanced safety seminar in Ypsilanti, MI, Thursday morning, Seigo Kuzumaki, Toyota’s deputy chief safety technology officer, said that Toyota envisions a future driving environment that optimizes the best of both humans and computers, not choosing one over the other. “Toyota’s main objective is safety, so it will not be developing a driverless car.” – Seigo Kuzumaki “Toyota’s main objective is safety, so it will not be developing a driverless car,” he said. While other companies like, say, Google , anticipate a driverless car future , Kuzumaki and other Toyota executives said they’re not sold on the fact driverless cars will be a marketable product to a wide base of consumers. Even if motorists were eager to accept such a hands-off driving approach, they’re not sure the technology is ready. “At this moment, it is difficult to realize the driverless car safely,” said Ken Koibuchi, head of Toyota’s intelligent vehicle division. “To realize driverless car at this moment, we need a very rich infrastructure.” The company said it is involved in 34 different projects with 17 partners, some of which are examining development of vehicle-to-infrastructure communication. At least for now, they believe the future holds a collaborative driving experience between humans and computers, one that means drivers won’t necessarily be tending to other tasks in their vehicles anytime soon. “I think Toyota’s approach is opposite of that,” said Kristen Tabar, a vice president at Toyota’s Technical Center.
Filed under: Car Buying , Japan , Toyota Don’t you just hate when your neighbors’ mess becomes your problem? Toyota certainly has good reason to be upset, after an dirty mishap at a steel mill delayed thousands of vehicle exports from its nearby port in Nagoya, Japan, (pictured above) by as much as a month. The messy situation occurred on June 22 when the mill near the port lost power and had to burn off an excess buildup of coke oven gas – which isn’t exactly a situation friendly to living beings or the environment . According to Automotive News , it caused a massive amount of smoke to emit from the plant that fell as soot and tar on about 23,000 vehicles that were waiting to be shipped out. Getting the models properly cleaned off has been quite a task. A team of 5,000 workers were at the port until this week getting them gleaming again. Potential Toyota buyers in North America have no need to fret about getting a sullied car, though. A Toyota spokesperson told Automotive News that none of the vehicles were bound for this continent. The automaker is reportedly considering asking the mill’s owners for reimbursement for the cost of the weeks of cleanup. Paying for the mistake is, after all, the neighborly thing to do.
Filed under: Motorsports , Audi , Porsche , Toyota , Racing As is so often the case, the 2014 Le Mans was a war of attrition, and Audi managed to prevail once again after all 24 hours had been recorded in the history books, with its Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro claiming first and second places, followed by Toyota in third. Drivers Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer inherited the lead in their No. 2 Audi after the No. 7 Toyota, driven by pole-sitter Kazuki Nakajima, was forced to retire with electrical problems in the 15th hour. The No. 2 Audi led the race until it was forced to the pits to replace a turbocharger in the 17th hour, allowing the No. 1 Audi, driven by Lucas di Grassi, Marc Gene (who was a last-minute replacement for Loic Duval, who crashed hard during practice) and defending champion Tom Kristensen, led the race until the 21st hour, when it too had to pit with turbocharger issues. This gave the No. 20 Porsche of Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley, and Mark Webber the lead until it was forced off the track with gearbox problems, eventually finishing in 38th position. In LMP2, the Jota Sport Zytek Z11SN-Nissan driven by Simon Dolan, Harry Tincknell and Oliver Turvey claimed victory, the first five LMP2 finishers all powered by Nissan .
Filed under: Recalls , Safety , Hatchback , Pontiac , Toyota The repairs needed for the faulty airbag inflators supplied by Takata continue to expand. Toyota initially announced a recall of 766,300 vehicles equipped with the bad part on June 11 as a followup to a campaign from 2013 . Soon after, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened a preliminary evaluation into five automakers who also used the component in their models. Now, NHTSA has released the official announcement of the latest Toyota recall listing 844,277 affected cars, including the newly added 2003-2004 Pontiac Vibe . While NHTSA’s document didn’t include a model-by-model breakdown, General Motors spokesperson Alan Adler estimated to Autoblog that roughly 85,000 Vibes in the US would be covered under the latest recall. Like the rest of the affected models, the airbag inflator could rupture in a crash causing the bag not to work correctly, possibly spraying metal fragments at the occupant. Toyota spokesperson Cindy Knight told Autoblog that the reason for the disparity between the earlier press release and NHTSA document was that Toyota was continuing to comb through VINs to create a list of affected vehicles. The original number was an estimate of that process at the time. Scroll down to the recall report from NHTSA. Continue reading Airbag recall adds 85k Pontiac Vibes to tally Airbag recall adds 85k Pontiac Vibes to tally originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 13 Jun 2014 15:44:00 EST.
Filed under: Concept Cars , Motorsports , Coupe , Toyota , Toys/Games The path to become a racing driver is a difficult one. It requires starting early, with karts, and then building up through the years and if you’re really, really good (and really, really lucky), a team will notice you and sign you up. Or, you know, you could just become really good at Gran Turismo , and beat out other like-minded fanatics for a seat in the GT Academy . The racing school, which culls its students from the ranks of Gran Turismo players has already pumped out successful racers, most notably, Lucas Ordo
Filed under: Japan , Plants/Manufacturing , Toyota Mitsuru Kawai is overseeing a return to the old ways at Toyota factories throughout Japan. Having spent 50 years at the Japanese automaker, Kawai remembers when manual skills were prized at the company and “experienced masters used to be called gods, and they could make anything.” Company CEO Akio Toyoda personally chose Kawai to develop programs to teach workers metalcraft such as how to forge a crankshaft from scratch, and 100 workstations that formerly housed machines have been set aside for human training. The idea is that when employees personally understand the fabrication of components, they will understand how to make better machines. Said Kawai, “To be the master of the machine, you have to have the knowledge and the skills to teach the machine.” Lessons learned by the newly skilled workers have led to shorter production lines – in one case, 96percent shorter – improved parts production and less scrap. Taking time to give workers the knowledge to solve problems instead of merely having them “feed parts into a machine and call somebody for help when it breaks down,” Kawai’s initiative is akin to that of Toyota’s Operations Management Consulting Division, where new managers are given a length of time to finish a project but not given any help – they have to learn on their own. It’s not a step back from Toyota’s quest to build more than ten million cars a year; it’s an effort to make sure that this time they don’t sacrifice quality while making the effort. Said Kawai, “We need to become more solid and get back to basics.” Toyota retires robots in favor of humans to improve automaking process originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 12 Apr 2014 15:05:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Permalink
Filed under: Toyota , UAW/Unions , Canada Volkswagen isn’t the only automaker with high-profile unionization efforts afoot at one of its North American factories. Unifor, Canada’s largest private-sector union, is attempting to organize Toyota’s factories in Ontario, reports Reuters . A vote was originally set for next week, but Unifor has apparently found more workers eligible to vote, delaying the proceedings. It hasn’t rescheduled the ballot yet, but claims there are 7,500 employees with the right to vote, with over 3,000 having already signed union cards. Toyota is pushing against organizing, saying that workers already have a payment and benefits near the top of the industry, and noting that it has never laid off a permanent employee in Canada. Unifor has reportedly countered by saying that about a quarter of the workforce is operating under a temporary contract, which receives lower benefits. The automaker has three factories in Ontario – two in Cambridge and one in Woodstock. To form a union, a majority of eligible employees must vote to join Unifor. If successful, they would be the first wholly owned Toyota plants in North America to be organized. Previous attempts to unionize the Japanese automaker’s Canadian factories in 2001 and 2008 failed due to lack of support.
Filed under: Car Buying , Europe , BMW , Ford , GM , Mercedes-Benz , Toyota , Volkswagen , Renault , Peugeot , Citro
Filed under: Budget , Plants/Manufacturing , Toyota , UAW/Unions , India The Detroit News reported today that Toyota will restart production at two Indian plants, following a shutdown on Monday. Factory labor, management and police in Asia engage in the kind of violent altercations that we’re not used to, having almost entirely walked away from the overtly brutal relations epitomized by the Pinkerton Detective Agency and the Flint Sit-Down Strike . In India, a plant owned by a Ford transmission supplier plant was shut down in 2009 after incidents between workers and armed men around the same time as Ssangyong workers occupied a factory in South Korea , in 2012 Suzuki Maruti workers rioted over wages around the same time upset employees beat a ceramics factory president to death in retaliation for a labor leader’s killing. Toyota is the latest to company trying to avoid that road. The Detroit Free Press reported earlier this week that it shut down two plants in India after 11 months of acrimonious wage negotiations and arbitration have gone nowhere. Toyota said the plant workers in Bidadi, near Bangalore, had deliberately stopped production at times over the past 45 days and threatened management. The workers said they wanted their wages raised by an amount already agreed to by management, but that management had reneged; news reports weren’t clear on the amount, some saying nearly 10,000 rupees ($165 US) more per month, another saying 4,000 rupees ($65 US), but reports agree that Toyota has said it will only go as high as 3,050 rupees ($50 US). Terms of today’s resolution have not been released, but we do know that production will begin again on Monday, March 24. Toyota temporarily idles pair of Indian plants due to labor unrest originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 20 Mar 2014 18:03:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds .
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.