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Toyota Confirms Lexus ES Production Moving to the U.S.

Maker investing $500 Mil to expand Georgetown plant by 2015.

by on Apr.19, 2013

Akio Toyoda with a Lexus ES at the New York news conference Friday morning.

Toyota Motor Co. President Akio Toyota confirmed today the maker will invest more than $500 million in its Georgetown, Kentucky plant to move production of one of its Lexus luxury vehicles to the U.S. for the first time.

The recently updated Lexus ES sedan will begin rolling off the line at the maker’s Georgetown plant by 2015, said Toyota, grandson of the automaker’s founder. The move, he noted, reflects the fact that the U.S. is the largest market for the luxury brand – while also sidestepping the negative impact of lopsided exchange rates that have made it increasingly difficult to continue producing vehicles in Japan.

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“It is fitting the first country to build the ES outside Japan is the United States because this is home for the Lexus brand,” said Toyoda, a reference to the fact that the luxury marque was, for many years, sold almost exclusively in the U.S. It has, however, begun an aggressive global roll-out in recent years.

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First Drive: 2013 Scion FR-S

Toyota CEO says he wants more passion and this new sports car delivers.

by on Nov.08, 2012

The Scion FR-S fills a noticeable void in the market - the affordable rear-wheel drive sports car with somewhat useful interior space..

In recent years, if you wanted a true sports car, your only choices were to accept a car based a front-wheel drive econobox or cash in your 401(k) to buy a real sports car putting its power to the rear wheels.

No more. Subaru and Toyota – a seemingly unlikely pair to create this car – got together to develop what is essentially the Holy Grail of fun cars – the affordable sports car.

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Think about it. Subaru, known for its variety of sensible all-wheel drive cars with just one performance-oriented model, the WRX, wants to build a car that is completely out of its element, a RWD sports car. Knowing it couldn’t justify the investment without a partner, the small Japanese automaker approached giant Toyota, known recently more for its fuel-sipping hybrids, but with a somewhat forgotten history of performance machines.

Together, they created a masterpiece, a car to be celebrated by everyone who enjoys driving, but wasn’t born with a trust fund in his mouth.

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A New Face for the Lexus RX

A sportier look for a soccer-mom standby.

by on Mar.08, 2012

The new F-Sport version of the Lexus RX450h hybrid made its debut in Geneva this week.

Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda has given a mandate to the Japanese maker’s Lexus brand.  While it may have a reputation for bullet-proof reliability he also wants it to deliver more passionate design, as last year’s launch of the 2013 Lexus GS illustrated.

The real test comes with the Geneva Motor Show launch of the luxury brand’s soccer mom mainstay, the RX crossover – which rolled onto the floor at Geneva’s PALExpo Convention Center revealing a decidedly new look, its face clearly lifted from the GS blueprints – notably starting with the sport sedan’s distinctive double spindle grille and LED running lamps.

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To emphasize its passion play, Lexus officials revealed the new RX F-Sport model, which adds a sporty front fascia, smoked head and taillamps and darker wheels.

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Lexus Concept to Reveal New Design Direction

Pumping passion into the brand?

by on Dec.12, 2011

Lexus offers a tease of the new styling concept it plans to unveil in Detroit next month.

The folks at Lexus (and parent Toyota) seem to be making it a requirement to use the word, “passion” whenever possible.  It certainly has been a hallmark of comments made by CEO Akio Toyoda in recent months, especially when he has turned the topic to the maker’s high-line Lexus brand.

According to the grandson of Toyota Motor Co.’s founder, the goal is to dial up the emotional factor for a marque that has tended to be staid and solid but decidedly not passionate in its first two decades.  We got a hint of the more expressive Lexus with the recent launch of the 2013 GS sedan.  (Click Here for more on the Lexus GS.)

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Toyota’s Profits Tumble By 99%

Hit hard by Japan’s March disaster, as well as weak U.S. dollar.

by on Aug.02, 2011

CEO Akio Toyoda says Toyota faces serious headwinds even after recovering from Japan's March disaster.

Toyota Motor Co. pointed its corporate finger at the March 11 Japanese earthquake and tsunami for the 99% decline in its earnings for the first-quarter of its latest fiscal year – but longer-term concerns about the strong yen pose problems that could extend well into the future, the automaker warned.

The maker raised a previously bleak earnings forecast for the full 2012 fiscal year, but the increase still fell below the general consensus of industry analysts who have been observing the maker’s ongoing recovery from the March disaster, which cost Toyota 599,000 units of last production for the April – June quarter.

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“In Japan and North America where the effects of the earthquake were particularly serious, vehicle sales declined substantially,” noted TMC Senior Managing Officer Takahiko Ijichi.

For the quarter ending June 30, Toyota’s net income plunged to just 1.1 billion yen, or $14 million, down from 190 billion yen, or $2.5 billion, a year earlier.  Sales and revenues fell by 30%, to 3.44 billion yen, or $44.5 million.

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Toyota Takes Hit as Debt Downgraded

Moody’s makes note of maker’s mounting problems, challenges.

by on Jun.29, 2011

Another setback for Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda.

Not long ago seen as the auto industry’s invincible 800-pound gorilla, the problems keep piling up for Toyota, and that’s worrying the folks who have to put a rating on the maker’s debt – Moody’s downgrading Toyota and warning it could cut the debt rating again in the months ahead.

The Japanese giant still commands the investment-grade rating its Detroit rivals can only dream of, but the latest move by the powerful ratings service underscores growing concerns about Toyota’s ability to cope with problems ranging from quality to new competitors, as well as the setbacks it has suffered in the wake of the March 11 disaster in Japan that will likely reduce its production this year by close to 500,000 vehicles.

It will “take some time,” a statement from Moody’s Investor Services said, for Toyota to “recover its previous strong profitability.”

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As a result, the agency lowered from Aa2 to Aa3 – which is still its fourth-highest credit ranking.  But it follows a downgrade earlier this year by Standard and Poors, and Moody’s warned that yet another downgrade could come soon because Toyota’s ratings “incorporate one notch of support from the country’s banks and government, which are themselves under review for possible downgrade.”

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