Filed under: Car Buying , Hybrid , Wagon , Hatchback , Toyota Think you’re seeing more Toyota Prius models on the road these days? Well, you are. Automotive News is reporting that all those increased Prius sales in the U.S. and Japan (see here and here and here and here etc.) have turned the Prius into the world’s third-best-selling car model for the first three months of 2012. During the first quarter, the Prius sold 247,230 copies around the world. The only cars that sold more during that time were the Toyota Corolla (300,800) and the Ford Focus (277,000). There’s an asterisk on the Prius’ figures: much of that new success is due to the fact that there are a brace of new Prius models, namely the C , V and Plug-in – that have expanded the line, with the C being the “car of the moment in Japan,” according to Automotive News . Sales in the U.S. were up 42 percent in the first quarter. The new models and the increased sales make up what AN calls a “Prius surge,” one that could be capacity constrained in the States.
Filed under: Hybrid , Etc. , Safety , Technology , Hatchback , Toyota Nevada has officially granted Google a license to test autonomous vehicles on public streets. The tech giant underwent demonstrations in both Las Vegas and Carson City to prove its vehicles are as safe or safer than those piloted by mere humans. The state requires two people to be in the test vehicles at all times, including at one occupant in the driver’s seat and another monitoring the vehicle via an onboard computer. If anything goes wrong, the human “driver” can take over by simply applying the brakes or taking hold of the steering wheel. As of right now, Google has only applied to license three vehicles. Each one will carry a red license plate with an infinity symbol. According to Bruce Breslow, Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles director, vehicles with autonomous capability could be on the road within three to five years. When that happens, the machines will wear green plates. Google allowed to test self-driving car on Nevada public streets originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 09 May 2012 18:00:00 EST.
Filed under: Hybrid , Plants/Manufacturing , Toyota Rumors that Toyota would some day build the Prius in the U.S. have bounced around for years, with a location in Mississippi often being cited as the most likely candidate. After that plan was officially scrapped in 2008 , a new version of the same story returned in 2010 when a Toyota executive vice president said Mississippi Prius production could start up in 2016 . Given the on-again, off-again history of the story, we weren’t surprised when not much was officially said about the matter in the last two years. That changed today. Koei Saga, senior managing officer in charge of drivetrain R&D at Toyota, has informed Automotive News that Toyota is now thinking of making the Prius in the U.S. by 2015 and wants to get hybrid drivetrain components – motors, inverters, batteries (likely lithium-ion packs) – from North American suppliers. The base fourth-gen Prius will probably still use nickel-metal hydride batteries, but the batteries made in the U.S. might be li-ion. A 2015 timetable means it is likely that America would make the fourth-gen Prius model, which is due around that time.
Filed under: Hybrid , Wagon , Recalls , Toyota Toyota engineers have worked hard to get the emissions that come out of the tailpipe of the Prius V down to a low level, but that doesn’t mean everything is copacetic with the car’s exhaust system. To fix a known problem, Toyota has announced a service campaign for the Prius V, both in the U.S. and Japan. The Wall Street Journal reports that the problem is with “weak actuators-control mechanisms” in the exhaust-heat-recovery systems that can end up leaking engine coolant, which will then force the car into a “safe” mode. Some second-gen, 2004-07 standard Prius models were affected by a similar problem in the past. The new issue affects about 8,000 vehicles in Japan and 20,000 in North America. Prius V owners will get the problem fixed for free. Toyota announces service campaign to fix exhaust on 28,000 Prius V hybrids originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 16 Apr 2012 08:28:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Permalink
Filed under: Car Buying , Hybrid , Etc. , Toyota How much do hybrid drivers really, truly like their cars? According to R.L. Polk, not all that much – at least not in 2011. Polk has released a new hybrid loyalty analysis that concludes that only 35 percent of people who bought a hybrid bought another one last year. The data comes from car purchases made in 2011, and Polk found that Toyota Prius drivers are the most loyal, both to the gas-electric technology and to Toyota itself. Sixty percent of Toyota hybrid owners bought another vehicle from the automaker, even if it wasn’t a hybrid. A recent J.D. Power Customer Retention Study found that the average brand loyalty was 49 percent, but that doesn’t take powertrains into account. According to Polk, forty-one percent of Toyota hybrid drivers choose to buy another hybrid (from any brand).
Filed under: Hybrid , Marketing/Advertising , Videos , Hatchback , Toyota The curtain’s been lifted on the ad campaign for the Toyota Prius C , and it’s all about the game of life via the boardgame The Game of Life. The first spot is called Malti-poo and in it’s ad-speaky way it targets “city-dwelling millennials” as it “demonstrates key vehicle attributes in a fun and approachable way.” It “embodies the youthful spirit of the vehicle and offers creative content that integrates this iconic childhood game” while it also “offers visual tools and easy ways to share digestible information and collect opinions.” In English: it’s trying to hook first-time car buyers on the notable features of the Prius C in inventive ways. Case in point: the Malti-poo spot will be followed by one called “Dolphin Tattoo,” and platforms will include broadcast television, print, consumer experience and a YouTube channel that provides car buying and financial advice. See below for the ad and the press release describing the campaign. Continue reading Toyota Prius C ad campaign begins with “Malti-poo” spot Toyota Prius C ad campaign begins with “Malti-poo” spot originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 12 Mar 2012 18:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Permalink
Filed under: Car Buying , Hybrid , Hatchback , Toyota You can now build and price a little Toyota Prius C of your own, all of which can be done in a configurator that appears to have been designed by Max Headroom and Pixar. The latest and littlest memeber of the Prius family comes in four stock grades, conveniently numbered One, Two, Three and Four. To get the game started you’ll need $19,710 in configurator money for the Prius C One – that’s an $18,950 base price and $760 for destination charges. Even the least of the four comes with options like Bluetooth and remote keyless entry, the only conspicuous base-model giveaway being the 15-inch steel wheels. Head for the Prius C Four, as we did, and you’ll start at $23,990 and get all the trimmings. The single most substantive option at this height is a $1,150 set of premium, bladed alloy wheels to replace the standard alloys. They aren’t even an option on the One. The other exterior and interior options are mainly cosmetic, like protective film and side moldings, or convenience, like an ashtray cup and a cargo tray. Checking every box will set you back $26,287. It’s pretty straightforward – for instance, there are nine exterior colors, one is black, then there are two variations on white, red and blue.
Filed under: Hybrid , Toyota During the Detroit Auto Show , Toyota said the new Prius C would start at under $19,000 . Today, we learn that this is like a lesson from Obi-Wan: what Toyota told us was true, from a certain point of view. The base level Prius C One’s MSRP is indeed $18,950, but that doesn’t include a $760 destination charge, and you can easily spend north of $23,000 for the top-of-the-line Prius C Four. Still, that’s a raging deal for a car estimated to get a fuel economy rating of 53/46/50 miles per gallon (city/highway/combined) from the EPA. As Toyota is quick to point out, those numbers make the C the, “highest rated city fuel economy of any vehicle without a plug.” As you might have surmised, there will be four trim levels for the Prius C and, unsurprisingly, some of the best features are only available on the upper ends. The Four, for example, is the only version that has fog lights and that can be optioned with 16-inch, eight-spoke alloy wheels (all others make due with 15-inchers). Also, neither the One, Two or Three can be equipped with an important cold-weather feature: heated front seats. At least things like automatic climate control, Bluetooth phone controls and remote keyless entry all come standard. The Prius C goes on sale in March. Full details in the press release after the break .
Filed under: Hybrid , Etc. , Hatchback , Toyota , Tokyo Auto Salon , Specialty , Design/Style Love it or hate it, Toyota has done an impressive job with the Prius . What started as a single model has grown to a whole family, including the versatile new Prius V minivan. But for some even that won’t prove enough space, so Japanese conversion outfit Campinn has developed this rather bizarre appendage for the standard Prius hatchback. Unveiled this weekend at the Tokyo Auto Salon , this conversion turns the current Prius into a camping van of sorts, complete with convertible sofa-bed and overhead sleeping area. It’s made of fiber-reinforced plastic and boosts the car’s length to 196 inches and its height to 81.1, and comes complete with a skylight and a back door for slipping out un-noticed when people are gathered around the front gawking and laughing at what looks like a hybrid with a tumor. Toyota Prius camper conversion has us charging for the woods originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 17 Jan 2012 09:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds . Permalink
Filed under: Motorsports , Hybrid , Japan , Toyota Drivers in Japan have once again taken to the track in an effort to wring maximum mileage from their Toyota hybrids. According to AutoWeek , the Prius Cup resumed this year after a two-year hiatus. Toyota officials said they have no plans to bring the hybrid competition to the U.S., but played up their promises to compete and win at Le Mans next June with a hybrid . Dealerships fielded teams at Fuji Speedway in Oyama, Japan, for a national championship race held on December 7. Puttering around the Formula 1 track at Fuji, at least one team managed an astounding 80 miles per gallon in their hypermiling efforts, according to the report. But is it really racing when the drivers are attempting to maintain an average speed of 37 miles per hour and coasting up hills? We will give them credit though – at least they do turn both left and right. Is Japan’s Prius Cup the world’s most boring form of motorsports? originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 27 Dec 2011 17:44:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds .