Filed under: Concept Cars , Hybrid , Paris Motor Show , Crossover , Toyota Last week, Toyota previewed an upcoming concept called the C-HR and promised it would debut at the upcoming Paris Motor Show . It didn’t say much more or give us anything beyond a silhouette and the shape of the lights, but here we have the first images of the finalized form. The C-HR envisions a hybrid crossover coupe with angular styling that looks ready to take on the Nissan Juke . It’s far sportier than a RAV4 , and looks closer to how we’d imagine the next-generation Scion FR-S would look like if it were riding on a jacked-up suspension – with some show car elements thrown in for good measure, like a gloating roof, radical lighting and the usual absence of door handles and usable wing mirrors. Of course, this being a Toyota concept, it packs a hybrid powertrain, although specifications did not leak out along with the images. Overall the form looks pretty striking, if decidedly unsubtle. We’ll look forward to bringing you more as the Paris show rapidly approaches. Toyota C-HR hybrid crossover coupe concept leak ahead of Paris originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 21 Sep 2014 12:43:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Permalink
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: 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: Toyota , Earnings/Financials Depending on how you want to look at things, the US Attorney’s Office $1.2-billion dollar settlement with Toyota in March over its unintended acceleration recall was either a big blow to the company or completely inconsequential. From January to March, net income fell five percent to 297 billion yen ($2.89 billion), compared to 313.9 billion yen ($3.05 billion) a year ago. However, the automaker still posted record full-year profits worldwide. Operating profit also fell in the US by 9 percent to $498.1 million for the quarter, but sales were up by 6 percent to 581,261 vehicles. According to Automotive News , global revenue was still up from January to March by about 13 percent and vehicle sales were up 6 percent to 2.58 million units. However, the payment to the feds did little to hold the company back last year. For the fiscal year ending March 31, 2014, Toyota had net income of 1.82 trillion yen ($17.7 billion), compared to 962.1 billion yen ($9.5 billion) in the last fiscal year. Total vehicle sales were also up. The settlement certainly seemed to stagger Toyota for the quarter, especially in the US. But it didn’t do much overall.
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: Recalls , Safety , Chrysler , Ford , GM , Honda , Nissan , Toyota , Volkswagen If you’ve noticed that there have been more recalls than usual this year, you may be on to something. According to a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration , the US market is on pace to break a record for recalls. In 2013, 22 million cars were recalled. We’re only a third of the way through 2014, though, and we’ve already halved that figure, with 11 million units recalled. That’s wild. Considering the past few months, it shouldn’t be a surprise that General Motors is leading the charge, with six million of the 11 million units recalled coming from one of the General’s four brands. Between truck recalls , CUV recalls and the ignition switch recall , 2014 hasn’t been a great year for GM. Other recall leaders include Nissan ( one million Sentra and Altima sedans), Honda ( 900,000 Odyssey minivans), Toyota ( over one million units in a few recalls), Volkswagen ( 150,000 Passat sedans), Chrysler ( 644,000 Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs) and most recently, Ford ( 434,000 units , the bulk of which were early Ford Escape CUVs). So while it’s been a bad year for GM so far, its competitors aren’t doing too well, either. It’s not the end of the world, though.
Filed under: Acura , Audi , BMW , Buick , Chrysler , Dodge , Ford , GMC , Honda , Infiniti , Jeep , Lexus , Lincoln , Mazda , Mercedes-Benz , Mini , Nissan , Scion , Subaru , Toyota , Volvo , Ram Consumer Reports has released its annual Auto Reliability Rankings, and surprise of surprises, Japan is dominant. Among brands in 2014, Lexus , Toyota and Acura make up the top three marques, while Mazda , Infiniti , Honda and Subaru sit fifth, sixth, eighth, and tenth, respectively. For those keeping track at home, Japan’s dominance wasn’t complete, though. Audi’s 2014 models helped the German brand jump from eighth to fourth, while Volvo saw a massive, 13-spot improvement, to seventh overall. Even GMC got in on the action, jumping three places, to ninth. Outside of the top 10, America, Europe and Japan saw more mixed results. Scion took the biggest tumble of any brand, falling ten positions to number 11, while Subaru , though still in the top ten, dropped five spots (coincidentally, CR had nothing good to say about Subaru and Toyota’s joint venture, calling the BRZ and Scion FR-S each brand’s least reliable vehicle). Nissan fell nine places to number 22 overall. BMW and Mercedes-Benz each climbed one place, to fifteenth and thirteenth, respectively. The big earners, though, besides Volvo, included Buick , which jumped nine places to number 12.