Filed under: Car Buying , China , Ford , GM , Toyota , Volkswagen As of the end of November, Volkswagen had sold 70,000 more cars than General Motors in China in 2013, making it appear inevitable that VW will outsell GM there. The feat would return the German brand to the top of chart in China for the first time in nine years, but even the second-place getter won’t be complaining too loudly: both automakers sold more than three million vehicles in a market pegged to hit 16 million sales this year. Volkswagen said it could have sold more cars if it had had more production capacity in China. The arrival of a new-to-China Audi A4 , a China-built A3 sedan , the VW Bora and Skoda Octavia , as well as an $18.2-billion-euro investment in the country to construct new factories , means VW should see its numbers grow in 2014. GM’s lineup is expanding next year, too, adding four Chevrolet nameplates and two vehicles to its Baojun brand as it tries to get to five million in sales by 2015. Among other automakers, Ford benefited from good product and woes for Japanese automakers over a territorial dispute with China, outselling Toyota by almost 32,000 units through the end of November. The Ford Focus is China’s best-selling vehicle so far this year. Analysts predict that the Chinese market will grow in 2014 thanks to untapped demand in smaller cities, and that should make for more record numbers; counting buses and trucks, China should surpass the 20-million sales mark. The biggest headwind foreseen at the moment is pollution. Larger cities are already capping the number of new vehicle sales and how often people are allowed to drive, as the effects of industrialization obscure entire cities and long-term forecasts.
Filed under: Japan , Technology , Toyota We knew this moment would come. Partly because Toyota told us it would back in July, but also because we’ve been watching too many sci-fi movies. The moment in question is when a robot would hold a conversation with a human in outer space. Which may not seem that cataclysmic, but we’re here to point out that a) this is the first time it has ever happened, and b) it could mark the beginning of the apocalypse, wrought on us by robots from outer space. The conversation took place on board the International Space Station between Commander Koichi Wakata of the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency and Kirobo , a foot-tall robot that encompasses the latest advancements in voice-recognition software achieved by Toyota. We can only (but would rather not) imagine what practical applications this might have in the future, but for now, you can watch the landmark event unfold in the video below . Continue reading Kirobo speaks in space with Toyota voice tech Kirobo speaks in space with Toyota voice tech originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 21 Dec 2013 18:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Permalink
Filed under: Budget , Sedan , Safety , Toyota All is right again in the Toyota kingdom. The Japanese manufacturer’s bread-and-butter sedan, the Camry , has been put back on Consumer Reports’ “Recommended” vehicle list, following improved performance in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s crash testing. You’ll recall that the 2012 and 2013 Camry were infamously booted from the list due to “Poor” ratings in IIHS’ notoriously tough small-overlap crash testing. Toyota vowed – just last week actually – to fix the ratings. As the Toyota brand’s head, Bill Fay, said last week, “It’s still a five-star car. It still does very well in all the IIHS tests. It did not in [the small overlap frontal crash test], and we’re busy making the necessary adjustments so that we can address that.” Now, though, those redesigned cars have been tested, earning an “Acceptable” rating in the overlap testing. According to Consumer Reports , Camrys built from November 2013 on feature new internal structures that improve the car’s crash test scores enough to make it a “Recommended” buy. IIHS has also elevated the car back to a position in its Top Safety Pick category, although it falls short of the new gold standard, the Top Safety Pick + rating. Toyota also made changes to the structure of the Prius , another model that failed to score well on small-overlap testing.
Filed under: Truck , Plants/Manufacturing , Toyota , Off-Road Toyota may be expanding its pickup truck production at its San Antonio, TX factory following calls from dealers for more Tacoma and Tundra models, according to a new report from Automotive News . The San Antonio plant is currently able to produce 250,000 trucks on two shifts with overtime, while a secondary facility in Tijuana, Mexico can build an extra 50,000 Tacomas. Despite this capacity, and the fact that Tundra is a slow seller relative to the full-size trucks from Ford , Ram and Chevrolet / GMC (not to mention the Tacoma being part of a segment with diminishing sales), Toyota franchisees apparently can’t get enough of the trucks. “Dealers are telling us they could sell more Tacomas and Tundras,” said Bill Fay , the general manager of the Toyota Division. “We are evaluating our footprint and capacity.” According to AN, Toyota has moved over 248,000 trucks through November. Whether the Japanese brand will expand, though, remains an open question. “We have 2008 and 2009 fresh in our minds, when the pickup market dropped from 2.5 million to 1.1 million,” Fay told AN. “But we also need to be flexible for three years down the road from now.” With the launch of the restyled Tundra resulting in 101,744 units sold so far in 2013 and Fay predicting 137,000 Tundras finding a home in 2014, Toyota faces a difficult decision – short dealers who are aching for more trucks or make a big investment and risk a low return. Toyota mulling more Tundra, Tacoma capacity in TX originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 17 Dec 2013 11:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds .
Filed under: Concept Cars , Detroit Auto Show , Coupe , Hybrid , Performance , Toyota We’ve written about approximately 187,000 rumors about a return of the Toyota Supra to the land of living cars. There are a couple of good reasons for this: first, Toyota won’t stop dropping hints about a new halo sports car. Late this summer, Toyota sales guru Kazuo Ohara called a Supra successor “one of the options we have” – a comment followed by a hint that there would be “better news” on the subject in the future. The second reason for all the Toyota tales is, of course, that we all have missed the Supra since its departure from the US market in 1998. So, when a member of the Autoblog team is party to a nudge-and-wink-filled conversation about a new Supra concept headed to January’s Detroit Auto Show , we tend to listen up. A 400+ horsepower hybrid sports car would match up pretty well with the upcoming NSX. Recently, a few very well-placed members of the Toyota team indicated to us, in not-so-cryptic terms, that the Japanese automaker is ready to shock the world with a Supra concept car for this year’s shindig in the Motor City. Further, the indications we’ve been given are that this “concept car” will signal broadly about a production version still to follow. In 2007, the FT-HS concept (pictured) seemed like a perfectly promising Supra replacement, right before the economy fell off a cliff and everyone in the business shelved all non-essential product plans. This year, however, there’ll be about 16 million cars sold in the US and a 400+ horsepower hybrid sports car would match up pretty well with the upcoming Acura NSX from rival Honda , not to mention president Akio Toyoda’s mandate to shed his company’s staid image.
Filed under: Minivan/Van , Europe , BMW , Toyota , Diesel BMW makes some sweet-revving engines, but its own vehicles aren’t the only ones running BMW engines. So do the latest from Rolls-Royce and Mini , of course, as well as a handful of Peugeots and Citro
Filed under: Classics , Coupe , Performance , Videos , Toyota Was there a better time for Japanese performance than the 1980s and 1990s? It seems like looking back, Japan was on a roll, producing cars that were affordable, economical, reliable, fast and lightweight. And while all the attention is – thanks to a certain film series – focused on cars like Toyota Supra and Mazda RX-7 , there is a lesser-known model that’s establishing its own enduring legacy without the help of Paul Walker and Vin Diesel . The MR2 , affectionately known as the “Mister Two” to fanboys, first arrived in 1984 as a lightweight, mid-engined sports car that proceeded to eat the lunch of the Pontiac Fiero in terms of performance. That car was replaced in 1989 with the more familiar, rounded-out MR2, which is the subject of this latest video from the team at Petrolicious . The video takes a look at a group of MR2 drivers, and attempts to explain what it is about the car that is destined to make it a future classic. Scroll down to see Petrolicious examine the MR2 Connection. Continue reading Toyota MR2 shows why we still love the 1990s Toyota MR2 shows why we still love the 1990s originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 27 Nov 2013 20:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Permalink
Filed under: Hybrid , Toyota , Quick Spins We don’t often come into contact with the Toyota Crown Hybrid , especially in colors other than pink . But when Toyota offered us the keys and a half-hour window to test out the Japanese version of the Lexus GS on US soil not long ago, we had to accept. Driving Notes: We’ll start with the start. The Crown Hybrid makes the friendliest, Japanese-iest sound when you turn it on. It’s like a high-fructose THX movie is starting. Considering this is a premium car, we were surprised the first time we turned it on, but then had to do it again and again. Purely for journalistic video-capturing reasons, of course, so you can watch and hear it below . We wish we had better-than-cellphone microphones to capture it. Compared to the Lexus GS 300h , which we drove immediately afterword along with the exact same route, it is clear the Crown is an executive’s car. The seats and suspension somehow made us feel privileged, not a feeling we’re used to in most hybrid cars.
Filed under: Car Buying , Budget , Sedan , Plants/Manufacturing , Honda , Toyota , Earnings/Financials The battle to claim October’s best-selling compact sedan title has been won by the Honda Civic . The Japanese four-door sold 27,328 units, leaving the Toyota Corolla – September’s title holder – in its wake with 23,637 units sold. In terms of year-to-date sales, the Civic sits at 280,899 units, with the Corolla trailing at 257,184 vehicles. Sitting in third place, separated by a significant gap from the leaders, is the Chevrolet Cruze with 16,087 units sold. The Ford Focus earned fourth, with 15,108 units moved out of showrooms. (It is interesting to note that while the Civic and Corolla have both enjoyed double-digit sales increases year-over-year, the Cruze and Focus have seen significant decreases during the same period.) Sales of the Hyundai Elantra hit 14,876 units, putting it in fifth place, with the Volkswagen Jetta earning sixth place with 11,710 units. Rounding out the ten top sellers were the Nissan Sentra (8,399 units), Mazda3 (7,647 units), Dodge Dart (5,617 units) and Subaru Impreza / WRX (4,923 units). The Kia Forte (4,706 units) and Volkswagen Golf (2,249 units), eleventh and twelfth respectively, have fallen behind. For complete US auto sales coverage, be sure to check out our By the Numbers articles, which we run at the end of every month. Honda Civic overtakes Toyota Corolla as America’s best-selling compact originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 04 Nov 2013 08:43:00 EST.
Filed under: Concept Cars , Hybrid , Performance , Japan , Tokyo Motor Show , Toyota , Specialty , Design/Style , Electric Toyota is getting ready for the Tokyo Motor Show later this month, and to tease us, the Japanese automaker has released photos and information about the concept vehicles it’ll be bringing to the show. In all, there’ll be five world premieres from Toyota (six if you split the Voxy and Noah minivan concepts), including some vehicles that’ll be released in the near future, and others that need more time to incubate. Let’s get the world premieres out first. Toyota is a pioneer of gasoline-electric hybrids, but it’s also pursuing hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicles. The clearest indication of this is the FCV concept , a hydrogen-powered sedan in the same vein as the the FCV-R that will bow at the auto show. (Read more about the FCV, here .) Other world debuts include the FV2 concept (pictured), a unique, one-seat future vehicle that emphasizes the “Fun to Drive” philosophy; the JPN TAXI concept , a next-generation taxi concept designed with Japanese hospitality in mind; and the Voxy and Noah concepts, next-generation minivans that differ most in exterior design cues and are scheduled to launch in the Japanese market in early 2014. The Aqua G Sports concept , based on the Prius C , will debut at the show and is a hybrid sports car that’s scheduled to launch in the Japanese market later this month. The i-Road , an electric trike that’s already been confirmed for production (check out our recent test, here ) will also be on display. We’ve been waiting for this next concept since the Toyota GT-86/Scion FR-S was launched, and we’ve already seen it in person , but Toyota will debut the FT-86 Open Concept again, calling it a “world premiere.” Toyota says it “was created to explore future sports car variations,” and while it hasn’t changed since our last viewing, the car now wears a new paint color: Flash Red. Since the paint was created specifically for the auto show, we can only guess that this is why Toyota considers it a world premiere, unless we find out otherwise.