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Toyota Supra May be Headed for Resurrection

Maker’s new chairman makes it a high priority.

by on Jun.12, 2013

The 1998 Toyota Supra was the last version of the sports car sold in the U.S.

Toyota’s long-lamented sports car, the Supra, could be headed for a revival, at least if the maker’s new chairman gets his way.

Produced from 1978 to 2002, the Toyota Supra once represented the pinnacle of the maker’s design and engineering capabilities, but it was pulled from production due to a variety of factors – leaving long-time fans calling for its return ever since.

A Supra Choice for News!

The loss of the Supra was, to critics, one more step backward for Toyota as it morphed into a plain vanilla brand best known for quality, reliability and boring green machines like the Prius. As the recent unveiling of a more stylish Corolla, as well as the introduction of the Scion FR-S sports car, demonstrate, Toyota is finally recognizing the need to put more passion into its products.

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BMW-Toyota Sports Car to Debut in Tokyo

The goal is to “exceed all expectations.”

by on May.21, 2013

Senior officials, including Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda and BMW Chairman Nobert Reithofer, celebrate their expanding alliance.

What do you get when BMW and Toyota set down to develop a sports car? We’re apparently about to find out, their joint effort reportedly set to make its eagerly awaited debut at this year’s Tokyo Motor Show.

The midsize sports car is one of several projects that the German and Japanese automaker have announced as part of a growing alliance first announced in 2011. Among other things, the two makers plan to work on fuel cells, lithium-ion batteries and hybrid technology, while BMW is now providing diesel engines for Toyota to use in its European line-up.

Your Best Ally!

“I get so excited thinking about the cars that will result from this relationship,” Toyota chief Akio Toyoda said in January.

So do a lot of industry observers waiting to find out precisely what the two partners have in store.

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Toyota, BMW Expand Their Alliance

New efforts will include fuel cells, electric powertrains and a future sports car.

by on Jun.29, 2012

Toyota and BMW officials during a news conference announcing their original alliance last December.

Toyota and BMW have confirmed they will substantially expand the nascent partnership they first launched late last year – signing a memorandum of understanding that will cover work in four key areas including high-tech fuel cells as well as the foundational “architecture” of a future sports car.

The two makers had first agreed to a limited alliance last December – echoing steps taken by a number of their key competitors, such as Daimler AG and the Renault-Nissan Alliance.  Those three brands have been rapidly expanding their own partnership in a bid to expand global economies of scale and to bring new technologies to market faster than might otherwise be possible working individually.

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“It is one way of securing long-term access to customers and technologies,” said Toyota Motor Co. President Akio Toyoda, during a news conference at BMW headquarters in Munich.

For his part, Bayerische Motoren Werke CEO Norbert Reithofer emphasized that, “For the BMW Group, strategic partnerships are an essential part of our strategy.”

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Toyota and BMW Discuss Expanded Alliance

Looking at fuel cells, lithium batteries and other projects.

by on Jun.25, 2012

Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda. is soon expected to announce an expanded alliance with BMW.

It’s the era of the automotive alliance and it appears that Toyota and BMW are looking to expand the unlikely partnership they first announced last December.

At that time, BMW announced it would supply diesel engines to the Japanese automaker. Toyota, meanwhile, revealed plans to work with its German counterpart on advanced lithium-ion battery technology.  Now, the German magazine Der Spiegel reports, the two makers will announce a much larger range of ventures that could include hybrid technology, fuel cells and vehicle electronics.

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That’s a significant shift for both companies, BMW and Toyota traditionally preferring to go it alone rather than team up with erstwhile competitors.  But Yoshi Inaba, president and COO of Toyota Motor North America, told TheDetroitBureau.com that a change in strategy was urgently needed because, “No one can handle it all by themselves.”

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New RAV4-EV Shows Toyota No Longer Willing to Go it Alone

Japanese giant increasingly dependent upon alliances.

by on May.07, 2012

Toyota will build the RAV4 EV on the same Ontario assembly line producing the conventional version of the crossover.

Toyota today launched its all-new battery-electric vehicle, the RAV4-EV, at the annual International Electric Vehicle Symposium, in Los Angeles.  Based on the maker’s conventionally powered compact ute, the vehicle is intended to test the U.S. market’s interest in electric propulsion.

But it will also be a test of the budding relationship between the Japanese giant and the small California start-up Tesla Motors.  The guts of the RAV4-EV, its lithium-ion driveline, will come from Tesla, a company in which Toyota has so far invested more than $50 million and dangled millions more in contracts like the new electric vehicle.

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More broadly, it’s a test of a significant shift in strategy by the Japanese maker.  For most of its existence, the company – currently the world’s fourth-largest automaker – steadfastly did things on its own.  While other manufacturers frequently partnered with erstwhile rivals to fill gaps in their product and powertrain line-ups, Toyota reached into its vast treasury to fund its own programs or worked with a very small and select group of suppliers – known as a keiretsu — in which it usually held a significant financial stake.

No longer.  Toyota is rapidly lining up an assortment of alliances with not only some of the world’s most prestigious auto manufacturers but also some of its fiercest competitors.

“No one can handle it all by themselves,” acknowledged Yoshi Inaba, president and COO of Toyota Motor North America.

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Slipping Behind, Toyota Racing to Line Up Partners

Maker shifts strategy as it seeks outside help.

by on Feb.10, 2012

Toyota is working with Tesla to bring the RAV4 EV to market later this year.

With what one jealous competitor once described as “more money than god” in its treasury, Toyota has traditionally been a company that liked to keep things in-house.  Even when it worked with outside suppliers it focused on those within its extended family, or keiretsu.

“Toyota was one of the companies that liked to do things its own way,” noted Yoshi Inaba, President and COO of Toyota Motor North America.

But that strategy is shifting fast, the senior executive acknowledged during an appearance at the Chicago Auto Show.  In a subsequent conversation with TheDetroitBureau.com, Inaba hinted there could be a “lot more” joint ventures to come in the near future.

Insight!

The maker has already lined up a number of high-profile partners – ranging from Microsoft to Intel, as well as traditional competitors, such as Ford and BMW.  In many cases, this reflects the changing nature of the auto industry, which is facing a need to ramp up its focus on high technology.  But it also suggests that Toyota might be paying the price for past hubris, thinking it could do everything on its own.

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