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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.


Scion Gets Your Drift

by on Jan.10, 2012

Scion will field a 600-hp version of the new FR-S in the Formula Drift series.

When Scion decided it wanted to take its new FR-S sports car out racing it decided it might not a few extra horsepower.  About 400 more to be exact, which is what it’s likely to take to  make the little FR-S competitive in the Formula Drift series later this year.

“Now we don’t expect that too many owners will take their FR-S to this level of extreme,” suggested Scion General Manager Jack Hollis, during a Detroit Auto Show press conference, “but we do know that like all Scion vehicles, it will be pretty hard to find one that is left stock.”

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Meant to honor the classic Corolla GT-S, which Hollis says was “known by its true fans as the AE86 or “hachi-roku,” which means 8-6 in Japanese, the new FR-S is the product of a joint venture between Subaru and Scion’s parent,Toyota – which will market the roadster in other parts of the world as the Toyota GT86.


First Look: Toyota 86

Americans will see the results of new alliance with Subaru marketed as the Scion FR-S.

by on Nov.30, 2011

Toyota finally reveals the production version of its new sports car - to be called 86 in Japan and Scion FR-S in the States.

Nearly four years in the making, Toyota has finally pulled the wraps off the 2-seat sports car it has developed as part of a joint venture with the smaller Japanese automaker Subaru.

Targeted at the small, affordable sports car niche now dominated by the long-lived Mazda Miata, Toyota will call the new model the Toyota 86, a reference to the maker’s legendary AE86 Corolla of the 1980s.  The sports car will actually go by a variety of different names.  The Japanese will also know it as the Hachiroku, while it will go with the moniker Toyota GT-86 in Europe — and appear under the Scion FR-S badge in the States.

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Whatever you prefer, the 2-seater is a low-slung design that was developed as part of a tandem effort that appears to have put the emphasis on Toyota design and Subaru technology – such as the so-called 2.0-liter boxer inline-four engine both manufacturers will share.  But the lines are a bit blurry, insiders stress, Toyota, for example, reportedly kicking in its fuel delivery system.


Subaru Releases BRZ Photos Ahead of Official Debut

The much-anticipated sports coupe is expected to go on sale in the spring.

by on Nov.29, 2011

The production version of the Subaru BRZ will differ from its Toyota siblings in trim only.

A day after learning the names for the Toyota version of its joint sports coupe project, Subaru is has released photos of its version ahead of its official reveal at the Tokyo Auto Show.

The 2013 Subaru BRZ was co-developed with the Toyota sport coupe – which will be known as the 86 in Japan, GT 86 in Europe and Scion FR-S in the states – and has been teased repeatedly, most recently at the Los Angeles Auto Show, where Subaru displayed the BRZ Concept STI. Earlier, a version called the BRZ Prologue was shown in Geneva. The bizarre “technology concept,” which showed the car’s internal workings, was on display in September at the Frankfurt Auto Show.

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Subaru didn’t release any new details about the car, but Toyota has released technical specifications, which are listed below. The two cars will differ in trim only, so the specs should stay the same.


Details on Toyota Sports Coupe Trickle Out

The name comes from the beloved AE86 Corolla from the '80s.

by on Nov.29, 2011

Toyota will sell its rear-wheel-drive sports coupe as the 86 in Japan and GT 86 in Europe. It will be known as the Scion FR-S in the U.S.

With enthusiasts looking for anything to sate their appetite for the latest details on the Toyobaru (Subayota?), Toyota has devilishly allowed a mere trickle of details to come out about its version of the much-anticipated sport coupe it has developed with Subaru.

The current dish? While the car will be sold in the States as the Scion FR-S, it will be called the GT 86 in Europe and simply 86 in Japan, paying homage the revered AE86 Corolla from the ’80s.

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Even more will be released next week when the car makes its official debut at the Toyota Motor Show. Toyota is calling the car a “production prototype,” but it will likely differ from the production version in details only.