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.
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.
Filed under: Concept Cars , Coupe , Performance , Toyota , Design/Style Enthusiasts have been begging for a new Supra practically since Toyota stopped selling its fourth generation in the US way back in 1998. We’ve been hearing rumors about a successor for years, but the Toyota FT-1 Concept from the 2014 Detroit Auto Show is the first tangible sign from the automaker that a new generation may be on the table. To temp us even more, the Japanese company reportedly filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office last week to renew its 2010 trademark for the name “Supra.” Granted, these kinds of trademark updates aren’t uncommon, as automakers don’t want to lose their rights to nameplates (even if they have no immediate plans to use them). However, Toyota briefly abandoned its rights to the Supra name entirely. According to The Motor Report , the original trademark was continually renewed until 2006, but the Japanese automaker let it lapse in the US until applying for it again in 2010. The FT-1 Concept in Detroit was created at Toyota’s Calty Design Research center in California and carries cues from the 2000GT , Celica and Supra in an ultra-curvy body. Officials did not disclose anything about its powertrain. Toyota is also co-developing a future sports car platform with BMW that will underpin models from both companies, but few other details are konwn, and it isn’t yet clear that the joint venture has anything to do with a future Supra. Hope springs eternal. Toyota renews Supra trademark, we renew frothing at the mouth originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 18 Feb 2014 10:01:00 EST.
Filed under: China , Japan , Plants/Manufacturing , Toyota , Earnings/Financials With the April 15 tax deadline just a few months away, our US readers will be faced with a decision should they get a refund: save or spend? It seems this issue is one many of us face whenever there’s a windfall, trying to decide whether we should set the money aside in an account of some sort or use it as a down payment on a new car or a trip to the Apple store. Unsurprisingly, major corporations face a similar, albeit more complex, issue. Take Toyota , for example. With President Akio Toyoda at the helm, the Japanese manufacturer has gracefully weathered recalls and natural disasters, all while turning beaucoup profits. Last quarter, profits quintupled to 434.4-billion yen ($4.3-billion USD), according to Bloomberg . Toyota also upped its forecast for the end of fiscal year 2013 (which ends on March 31 for Japan), to a record 1.9-trillion yen (about $18.8 billion). Now, the Japanese brand is reportedly sitting on a cash pile of nearly $40 billion, leaving Toyoda-san in an envious predicament – what should the company do with all that money? Some think Toyota should be doing something, anything with that big stack of cash. Some think Toyota (and Toyoda) should be doing something, anything with that big stack of cash.