GT Academy returns, and why Gran Turismo 6 demands a pedal/wheel setup

GT Academy returns, and why Gran Turismo 6 demands a pedal/wheel setup

April 19, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

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

Toyota retires robots in favor of humans to improve automaking process

Toyota retires robots in favor of humans to improve automaking process

April 13, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

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

Total auto recalls already on record pace in 2014

Total auto recalls already on record pace in 2014

April 9, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

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.

Toyota plans biggest stock buyback in over a decade

Toyota plans biggest stock buyback in over a decade

April 1, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Filed under: Toyota , Earnings/Financials At the end of December, 2013 Toyota had a cash stockpile of 1.8 trillion yen ($17.5B US). As of March 31, at the end of its current financial year, company coffers are expected to swallow another 1.9 trillion yen ($18.4B US) in net profit – said to be a record sum for the Japanese automaker. In a gesture signaling a turnaround from the horrors of the global recession, Bloomberg reports that Toyota will buy back 60 million shares of its stock, as much as 1.89 percent of the company, for something like 360 billion yen ($3.5B US). It’s the first buyback since 2009 and the largest buyback since 2003, when it spent roughly 390 billion yen ($3.8B US) repurchasing shares. Company president Akio Toyoda founded the Toyota Mobility Foundation (TMF), a non-profit that will support international groups working on transportation issues in emerging markets. Half of the stock that Toyota buys, 30 million shares, will be sold to the foundation via the Japanese Trustee Services Bank for one yen per share, the dividend providing the foundation’s initial funding. The other 30 million shares will be canceled, a company spokesman telling Reuters that the company wants to reward shareholders. Industry analysts have been asking Toyota to either return money to shareholders or invest in new factories, but Toyota has ruled out the latter. After getting burned with excess capacity when the financial crisis came, the company is focused on extracting efficiencies from the plants it already has. Toyota has said it plans to complete the buyback by June of this year.

Japan dominates Consumer Reports Annual Auto Reliability Rankings, US and Europe gaining [UPDATE]

Japan dominates Consumer Reports Annual Auto Reliability Rankings, US and Europe gaining [UPDATE]

October 29, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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.

Japan dominates Consumer Reports Annual Auto Reliability Rankings, US and Europe gaining

Japan dominates Consumer Reports Annual Auto Reliability Rankings, US and Europe gaining

October 28, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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.

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