Filed under: Plants/Manufacturing , Crossover , Toyota , Earnings/Financials , Tesla , Electric The future of the Toyota RAV4 EV appears to be in doubt. Tesla supplies the EVs battery packs, and it says that production ends later this year. ” Toyota is expected to end the current RAV4 EV model this year,” Tesla said in its quarterly financial filing obtained by Bloomberg . “Our production activities under this program are expected to end in 2014,” the company said. This timeline fits closely with the original production plans for the RAV4 EV. When the $100-million project was first announced, Tesla said that it expected to supply battery packs for the vehicle from 2012 to 2014 . Building components for the Japanese automaker continues to bring in money, though. In the company’s Q1 2014 letter to shareholders , it said: “Automotive revenue included $15 million of Toyota powertrain sales.” According to Bloomberg , Toyota has sold just 1,594 RAV4 EV models from 2012 through April 2014. Initially, the business had estimated that it would sell 2,600 units of the electrified crossover . Toyota has not officially said that it plans to end production of the RAV4 EV yet.
Filed under: Plants/Manufacturing , BMW , Chrysler , Ford , GM , Honda , Mercedes-Benz , Nissan , Toyota , Volkswagen Among automakers with a big US presence, General Motors is the worst to work for, according to a new survey from Tier 1 automotive suppliers, conducted by Planning Perspectives, Inc. The Detroit-based manufacturer, which has been under fire following the ignition switch recall and its accompanying scandal, finished behind six other automakers with big US manufacturing operations. Suppliers had issues with trust and communications, as well as intellectual property protection. GM was also the least likely to allow suppliers to raise their prices in the face of unexpected increases in material cost, all of which contributed to 55 percent of suppliers saying their relationship with GM was “poor to very poor.” GM’s cross-town competitors didn’t fare much better. Chrysler finished in fifth place, ahead of GM and behind Dearborn-based Ford , which was passed for third place this year by Nissan . Toyota took the top marks, while Honda captured second place. PPI also surveyed suppliers of Volkswagen , BMW and Mercedes-Benz , each of which has considerably smaller manufacturing presence relative to the American and Japanese brands (there are only three US factories between the three of them). Mercedes and VW were ranked behind GM, while BMW would have been just behind Toyota. According to Reuters , this survey serves to illustrate a big issue facing American manufacturers – Japanese brands aren’t just on good terms with suppliers, but their relations are actually improving. PPI boss John Henke said the popularity of Toyota and Nissan among suppliers increased considerably, indicating that we “could be entering an era in supplier relations that doesn’t bode well for the US Big Three.” Tier 1 suppliers call GM the worst OEM to work with originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 12 May 2014 16:29:00 EST.
Filed under: Hirings/Firings/Layoffs , Toyota UPDATE: It’s official, Toyota has announced it is relocating its North American headquarters in Plano, Texas. See the full story here . According to multiple sources familiar with the matter, Toyota is poised to announce Monday that it is restructuring its US operations, which may include plans to relocate some of its operations to Texas. Toyota Motor Sales has been located in California since 1957, and is responsible for North American sales, marketing, and distribution for Toyota, Lexus and Scion . According to Toyota literature, its Torrance operations presently employs 6,156 workers and represents a $2.3-billion investment. Workers in Toyota’s Torrance offices were abuzz about the possible relocation to Texas. One young offspring of a Toyota employee even posted to Twitter that her parents warned about the upcoming move, and she said she’s refusing to go. Rumors at one point had Toyota settling in Richardson, TX, just outside Plano. But Autoblog talked to Richardson Mayor Laura Maczka, who said she would be thrilled if that were true, but has not heard anything on the subject. Autoblog also emailed with Bill Sutherland, a city councilman in Torrance, CA, who said, “To date the only info I have is what I have read in the paper expecting a press release Monday.” If the automaker moves its operations to the Lone Star state, the transition is expected to take place in waves over two to three years.
Filed under: Hirings/Firings/Layoffs , Toyota It’s official, Toyota is relocating its US operations to Plano, TX . And it won’t be a symbolic ‘all ranch and no cattle’ gesture – the Japanese automaker, whose headquarters have been in California since 1957, has decided to base nearly all of its operations in the Lone Star State, including much of its engineering, finance and sales and marketing teams. The move, which will see the establishment of a new headquarters campus in the Dallas suburb will not only affect employees at the company’s current Torrance, CA Toyota Motor Sales USA campus, it will also touch the lives of thousands of employees at the company’s other operations, including 1,000 workers at Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America in Erlanger, KY and some New York-based staff as well. The Toyota Technical Center in Ann Arbor, MI is not facing relocation, however, and it actually stands to gain responsibilities as Toyota overhauls its US org chart. Toyota says that its reorganization will affect about 4,000 employees in total. According to Automotive News , while Toyota is adopting an “‘everyone is invited’ stance for the relocation,” some attrition is expected from employees who aren’t interested in relocating southward from the Golden State. For its part, the automaker is reportedly making expenses-paid visits to Plano available to full-time staffers and spouses to help them make the relocation decision, as well as a lump-sum payment if they decide to go through with the move. The move is expected to realize massive cost savings for Toyota, including in areas of taxation, real estate and employee cost of living. It is also expected to allow for consolidation in areas like human resources, information technologies, legal and accounting. Critically, the move will put the company closer to its North American manufacturing base, which has been increasingly concentrated in southern states, including Texas.
Filed under: Hirings/Firings/Layoffs , Toyota According to multiple sources familiar with the matter, Toyota is poised to announce Monday that it is restructuring its US operations, which may include plans to relocate some of its operations to Texas. Toyota Motor Sales has been located in California since 1957, and is responsible for North American sales, marketing, and distribution for Toyota, Lexus and Scion . According to Toyota literature, its Torrance operations presently employs 6,156 workers and represents a $2.3-billion investment. Workers in Toyota’s Torrance offices were abuzz about the possible relocation to Texas. One young offspring of a Toyota employee even posted to Twitter that her parents warned about the upcoming move, and she said she’s refusing to go. Rumors at one point had Toyota settling in Richardson, TX, just outside Plano. But Autoblog talked to Richardson Mayor Laura Maczka, who said she would be thrilled if that were true, but has not heard anything on the subject. Autoblog also emailed with Bill Sutherland, a city councilman in Torrance, CA, who said, “To date the only info I have is what I have read in the paper expecting a press release Monday.” If the automaker moves its operations to the Lone Star state, the transition is expected to take place in waves over two to three years. It is not immediately clear when the transition will begin, or if Toyota Financial Services also plans to relocate its operations – a division that employs a further 3,286 workers. It is also unknown how many employees will be offered assistance packages, should this move to Texas actually happen.
Filed under: Budget , Japan , Videos , Hatchback , Toyota With considerable manufacturing capacity here in the United States and even a NASCAR program, it’d be all too easy to categorize Toyota as an American automaker. Only it’s not. It’s Japanese, of course. And back in the Japanese Domestic Market, it offers a whole range of models we’ll never see in North America. Models like the Crown sedan, Noah minivan and this, the new Passo hatchback. Sold in various markets as the Daihatsu Boon, Daihatsu Sirion, Perodua Myvi and (for a time) the Subaru Justy, the Toyota Passo is a compact hatchback that slots in size-wise between the Yaris sold in America and the Aygo offered in Europe (except the Passo is taller than either). Power comes from a 1.0-liter engine with 69 horsepower that can be had in front- or all-wheel drive, or a 1.3 driving 95 horses to the front wheels alone. A continuously variable transmission is on duty regardless of engine choice. Front-drive models get a stop/start system, but even all-wheel-drive versions are eligible for government tax credits. That’s because, though the new Passo only appears to be mildly updated, the engines have been thoroughly reworked to deliver 30-percent better fuel economy than the previous model, coming in 20-percent better than the standards being enacted by the Japanese government for next year.
Filed under: New York Auto Show , Sedan , Toyota With a dozen years atop the nation’s best-selling car charts, you might think that there wouldn’t be a lot of incentive for Toyota to rework its Camry , particularly so early in the life of the current model. But despite its unassailable sales totals, the midsize sedan has come in for substantial criticism for its milquetoast dynamics, piecemeal interiors and bland design. As part of CEO Akio Toyoda’s mantra to build more exciting cars, the 2015 Camry has arrived with a fresh new look and content that goes far beyond the Japanese automaker’s typically slight mid-cycle redesigns. Featuring some 2,000 new parts, the 2015 Camry casts a 1.8-inch longer shadow and stretches across a widened track (0.4 inches). And it won’t be just the widened track that should help deliver a more dynamic performance – Toyota is citing a stiffer chassis thanks to additional spot welds along with a rejiggered suspension, retuned electric power steering and a new two-stage brake booster for improved braking feel. A new XSE trim promises the sportiest performance yet, including model-specific shock absorbers and springs, stiffer bushings, unique stability control programming and 18-inch wheels to go along with a unique front end treatment featuring mesh grille inserts and a revised fascia. But Camry sales have rarely been driven by performance – millions of the things have been purchased due to the family sedan’s ironclad reputation for attributes like reliability, strong resale value, comfort and ease of use. The latter two aspects often help secure the former, and to that end, Toyota has made a lot of changes to the Camry’s interior, both seen and unseen. Visible changes include a redesigned gauge cluster with a new 4.2-inch TFT display, richer materials, a redesigned center stack and a console tray with available wireless charging. Hidden alterations include 30-percent more sound insulation to help deliver a serene ride.
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: Concept Cars , Coupe , Performance , Videos , Toyota , Celebrities Hinting at the future of Toyota performance vehicles, the FT-1 concept was one of the stars of the Detroit Auto Show this year. It even nabbed fourth place in our Editors’ Choice list . While he’s a few months behind the car’s official reveal, Jay Leno managed to get the only existing concept of the sports coupe wheeled into his garage to take a closer look, and he’s pretty impressed. Leno speaks with Alex Shen and William Chergosky, the exterior and interior chief designers of the FT-1 respectively, to get a better idea of the inspirations behind the concept. Jay heaps high praise on it for mixing Italian and Japanese design and says he likes the look even more than the Lexus LFA . The coupe isn’t a product of either country, though. It was penned at Toyota’s CALTY Design Research center in Newport Beach, CA. The designers go into the entire history of the FT-1, and Shen even admits that Toyota design lacks an emotional factor at the moment. It’s a fascinating interview behind some of the little touches you might miss at first glance. Unfortunately, the model doesn’t have the green light for production yet and may never get made.
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.