Toyota Powers-Up First of its Kind Stationary Fuel Cell

October 20, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

TORRANCE, Calif., Oct. 17, 2012 – Furthering its commitment to alternative energy and the environment, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. (TMS) activated today a new 1.1-megawatt hydrogen fuel cell generator on the Torrance headquarters campus. The fuel cell will supply approximately half of the electricity for six headquarters buildings during peak demand, while producing zero emissions. Designed and built by Ballard Power Systems, the proprietary Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) stationary fuel cell is the largest PEM fuel cell of its kind. The fuel cell is powered by hydrogen gas fed directly from a pre-existing industrial hydrogen pipeline, also a first for this technology. This direct power source allows Toyota to reduce utility grid electricity usage during peak power demand. The same hydrogen pipeline also supplies a hydrogen filling station adjacent to the TMS campus used to fuel Toyota’s and other manufacturers fuel cell hybrid vehicle fleets.

Toyota Smart INSECT city car concept makes the connection

Toyota Smart INSECT city car concept makes the connection

October 5, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Filed under: Etc. , Japan , Technology , Toyota , Electric , Infotainment Just like automakers have started invading the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the same trend might be starting at the CEATEC show in Japan. Last week, we showed you a rendering of the Toyota Smart INSECT , but now we’re getting our first live look at the single-seat electric vehicle. Although its design is very bug-like, the Smart INSECT’s name is actually an acronym that stands for “Information Network Social Electric City Transporter,” and it is a smart vehicle in that it allows users to stay connected in the same manner they can with a smartphone. That isn’t to say this car doesn’t look the part of its INSECT name with a bug-eyed face and wing-like doors, but this concept is all about showing of the technology. Some of the tech gadgetry found inside the car includes motion sensors, voice recognition and even Toyota’s cloud-based “Smart Center.” Using Microsoft Kinect, the car can recognize when the driver is approaching the vehicle and open the corresponding door depending on which side of the car they are on. Once inside, the driver can connect to a virtual operator to control systems like navigation and audio, and it can also connect to the driver’s home via a smartphone to control systems like door locks and air conditioning. In what seems to be more of an exercise of what kind of connectivity can be delivered in cars rather than showing off an actual car, Toyota says it has no plans to make production version of the Smart INSECT. Madoka Isojima of Autoblog Japan contributed to this story. Toyota Smart INSECT city car concept makes the connection originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 04 Oct 2012 17:31:00 EST.

CVTs expected to more than double in popularity

CVTs expected to more than double in popularity

July 31, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Filed under: Sedan , Honda , Nissan , Toyota Belts and pulleys will continue to replace traditional gears in the coming years as more carmakers turn to Continuously Variable Transmissions to suck the fun out of future machines increase fuel economy. According to a new Automotive News report, by the numbers, about one percent of new vehicles were equipped with a CVT in 2005. By 2010, that number of new vehicles in the U.S. grew to seven percent, thanks largely to Nissan , not to mention an increase in the number of hybrid models sold in America (most of which are fitted with the technology). Experts at IHS Automotive now predict that percentage will more than double by 2016 to 16 percent. The belt-and-pulley transmission can adjust to an engine’s torque in an infinite number of ways, making it more efficient than traditional gearboxes. But CVTs have become the bane of many enthusiasts and critics because of a number of undesirable characteristics – namely the unpleasant ‘rubber band’ sound they emit under hard acceleration. According to Automotive News , Japanese carmakers appear especially interested in adding CVTs to their lineups. Honda is widely expected to offer a CVT on its next-generation four-cylinder Accord , Toyota may include a CVT on its future Corolla , and the CVT stalwarts at Nissan introduced its 2013 Altima earlier this year with an upgraded CVT that helps it achieve 38 miles per gallon on the highway. While CVTs continue to improve, some providing faux programed “shift points” through sport programs or paddle shifters, they remain a non-starter with most enthusiasts we talk to.

Did Apple forget to tell automakers about the new Siri button? [UPDATE]

Did Apple forget to tell automakers about the new Siri button? [UPDATE]

June 16, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Filed under: Technology , Audi , Chrysler , Toyota Apple expects nine different carmakers to begin including a “Siri button” on their steering wheels within the next 12 months, the company announced this week. Of course, the news came as a surprise to some of the carmakers, according to Business Insider . After Apple announced plans to further integrate it’s Siri voice recognition software to a button on the steering wheel, some carmakers said they were unaware of those plans. Audi told Fast Company , which contacted all nine carmakers mentioned by Apple, that it was not sure if the project could be completed in a year. A Chrysler spokesman said the company did not have any plans to announce anything. Toyota was equally as vague: “(T)here are no particular applications planned at this time.” Building a Siri button certainly makes sense and, no doubt, will happen in the coming years. It’s also smart business. Instead of an automaker spending money developing voice recognition software, let Apple do it and integrate that system into a vehicle. Already, carmakers have moved to integrate smartphones into cars, putting apps on phones onto center console screens and finding ways to piggyback services from a phone into the car. USB ports on a car are simply expected nowadays.

National Academy of Sciences: Electronic glitches in cars untraceable, more oversight needed

National Academy of Sciences: Electronic glitches in cars untraceable, more oversight needed

January 20, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Filed under: Government/Legal , Safety , Technology , Toyota “We couldn’t find anything, but we’re still blaming the car.” That’s the gist of the statement from a National Academy of Sciences panel headed by New Jersey Institute of Technology physics professor Louis Lanzerotti. The NAS supports U.S. regulators shutting down investigation of Toyota unintended acceleration incidents without finding electronic faults that would cause the behavior. However, at the same time, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is planning to call for further oversight and more study to attempt to rule out electronic causes. About the only thing that’s concrete is that crashes happened. To be fair, electronic faults can be tricky to pin down, even with far simpler systems than the networked-computing setups that modern cars universally employ. That’s why event data recording is already part of many automotive systems, along with a high degree of redundancy and fault tolerance. Many carmakers also already program engine management to douse the throttle with brake application in certain situations. Few are more interested in catching intermittent, potentially catastrophic problems than the companies building the cars, and most have already implemented the systems these organs of the state are calling for. Even so, the NAS and NHTSA appear keen to write these tendencies into law.

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