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Posts Tagged ‘toyota hybrids’

Ford Gaining Traction in Hybrid, Electric Market.

Maker claims it’s chipping away at arch-rival Toyota.

by on Feb.01, 2013

Ford is offering both a conventional hybrid and a plug-in version of its new C-Max people mover line.

With a significant surge in recent months as it rolls out new product, Ford Motor Co. is betting it has begun to close the gap with the long-time leader in the hybrid market, Toyota Motor Co.

Ford is reporting a more than threefold increase in sales of its various gas-electric offerings for January, following strong gains during the latter months of 2012. Some of that has come from updated offerings like the latest-generation Ford Fusion Hybrid, but the maker is also claiming preliminary success with the all-new C-Max, a dedicated line of hybrid people-movers directly targeting Toyota’s familiar Prius “family.”

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Even so, few expect Toyota to readily relinquish its lead. And analysts caution that Ford’s aggressive push into battery power hasn’t been without its problems.

“We’re bringing new hybrid buyers into the market, many of whom wouldn’t be considered traditional hybrid buyers,” said Amy Marentic, Ford’s marketing manager for small and medium Cars, a list that includes a number of the maker’s new gas-electric models.

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Toyota Looking at New Supra – But Will it Be Electric?

MR2 Successor also reportedly in the works.

by on Nov.12, 2012

Toyota's FT-86 Concept II could serve as the platform for the long-lamented Supra. But might Toyota turn to Tesla to help develop a battery drivetrain?.

“Passion” is a word one hears a lot in conversations with Toyota executives these days, up to and including President Akio Toyoda, who points to recent introductions like the Scion FR-S and Lexus GS to underscore his intentions.

But it’s beginning to look like that’s just the beginning of Toyota’s performance aspirations, with new reports suggesting there could be at least a couple more performance machines on the Japanese giant’s horizons – notably in the form of all-new versions of the long-lamented Supra and MR-2 models.

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But, as the new FR-S demonstrates, Toyota may take a very different approach in bringing those – or other – performance models back to life. One very strong possibility is that it could turn outside for help, perhaps to the likes of California-based Tesla Motors to provide a battery-based drivetrain for a new Supra.

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Toyota Adds 2nd Battery-Electric Vehicle

But Scion iQ EV will skip retail, target car-sharing programs.

by on Oct.17, 2012

Toyota has modest plans for its small battery-car.

Toyota is adding a second battery-electric vehicle to its U.S. line-up, a lithium-ion-powered version of its Scion iQ microcar. But plans for the new green machine underscore the Japanese giant’s continued skepticism about the near to mid-term potential of battery-electric propulsion.

As with the Toyota RAV4-EV introduced earlier this year, the Scion iQ will be produced in relatively low numbers – and it will be targeted at campus and urban car-sharing programs rather than being sold directly to consumers, the maker reveals.

Just 90 of the electric microcars will be delivered to the U.S. initially. Toyota plans to reveal further details of who will get the iQ, and where, in the coming weeks.

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“Toyota believes battery-electric vehicles have the potential to play a role in future mobility strategies,” says Chris Hostetter, TMS group vice president of strategic planning. “Up to now, cost and convenience issues have limited BEV’s appeal with a broad consumer market. Toyota developed the iQ EV specifically as a city commuter, for use in an urban environment, where driving distances are likely to be short, charging opportunities numerous, and its compact proportions beneficial.”

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New Ads Position Ford C-Max as Prius Alternative

Ford takes on the 800-lb gorilla of the hybrid world.

by on Oct.04, 2012

Ford wants to go head-to-head with the Toyota Prius in new ad campaign.

Expect to see a lot about C-Max.  That’s the Ford C-Max, to be more precise, the maker’s all-new people-mover and the first domestic hybrid that lifts a page from the Toyota Prius handbook by adopting a unique body style that won’t be shared with a standard gas powertrain.

Like the ever-popular Prius, meanwhile, Ford will offer both a “conventional” hybrid model as well as a plug-in version dubbed the Ford C-Max Energi.  The maker will produce them at an upgraded plant in suburban Detroit alongside the new battery-electric version of the compact Focus.

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Ford has been one of the most aggressive makers in challenging Toyota’s persistent lead in the hybrid segment but – like Honda which actually launched the first hybrid in the U.S. market, the original Insight – Ford has so far been unable to crack Toyota’s lead. The Prius currently accounts for more than half of all U.S. gas-electric vehicle sales, a lead that has grown with the creation of a so-called “Prius family” of hybrids.

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Sales Strong, Toyota Ramping Up Prius C Production

Maker moves 1,200 of the new hybrids in first 5 days.

by on Mar.21, 2012

Buoyed by near-record fuel prices, the new Toyota Prius C is exceeding initial sales expectations.

Toyota’s new Prius C is proving to be the little hybrid that could – and that’s leading the automaker to ramp up production of the newest member of its Prius “family.”

The C is a compact gas-electric model that went on sale earlier this month, joining the original Prius hatchback and the larger Prius V introduced last year – with a plug-in version of the original Prius to follow later this year.

With a base price of $19,710, the Prius C is the least-expensive full hybrid on the market and the only compact to share the familiar Prius badge.  That’s significant in a market that has – despite near-record fuel prices – so far been reluctant to embrace hybrids, the technology last year accounting for less than 3% of total U.S. new vehicle sales, but the Prius badge emblazoned on one of every two hybrids purchased in the country.

(Click Here for our Toyota Prius C  review.)

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The timing of the Prius C launch could not have been better, analysts say, and the new model generated 1,200 sales in just its first five days on the market – albeit many of those customers had placed orders some time back and were simply waiting for delivery.  While it remains to be seen if the momentum will be maintained, Toyota appears to be quite optimistic.

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Toyota Ready to Fight Back With Downsized Turbo Engines

Some help from the Great Gazoo.

by on Jan.19, 2012

The turbocharged, GRMN-tuned Toyota Yaris (sold as the Vitz in Japan).

Toyota is hoping to take a giant leap into the future with the help of the Great Gazoo.  That’s Gazoo Racing Masters of Nurburgring, or GRMN, which partnered with the giant automaker to pull together a turbocharged version of the Toyota Vitz for the recent Tokyo Auto Salon.

The 178-horsepower subcompact – known in much of the rest of the world as the Yaris – is more than a one-off show car, however.  Industry sources say it’s a sign of things to come from Toyota, which has been focusing the major portion of its engineering resources on gas-electric hybrids while most of its key competitors are racing to market with downsized, direct injection turbo engines.

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Turbos may not yield quite the urban fuel economy of a hybrid but they deliver more customer-pleasing performance than the typically anemic hybrid, along with improved highway mileage.  They’re also, typically, a lot cheaper than hybrid systems that depend on more complex driveline components, including expensive battery packs.

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Toyota Rolls Out new Prius C Hybrid and Reveals NS4 Concept Plug-In

The next three years critical to win consumer support for battery power.

by on Jan.10, 2012

The next few years will be critical if the auto industry hopes to win popular support for new battery-based powertrain technology – rather than just having it mandated by government fiat, said Jim Lentz, Toyota’s top U.S. executive.

Lentz spoke during a well-attended news conference where the Japanese automaker outlined its electrification strategy while also rolling out a pair of new battery-based vehicles.

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The new Toyota Prius C is the latest member of a growing family of conventional gas-electric models sharing the nameplate of the world’s most popular hybrid.  But Lentz also revealed a more advanced plug-in hybrid, the Toyota NS4 Concept, that could reach market later in the decade.

The new subcompact Prius C will come to market about a year after Toyota launched a midsize spin-off dubbed the Prius V.  “If the larger Prius V stands for versatility, the Prius C stands for City,” the executive explained.

Toyota reveals the new NS4 Concept, a dedicated plug-in hybrid prototype.

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Toyota Plug-in Concept Debuting in Detroit

Will accompany debut of Prius c.

by on Dec.20, 2011

Toyota offers a tease of a new plug-in hybrid model debuting at the Detroit Auto Showw next month.

Toyota will pull the wraps off an advanced plug-in concept vehicle during next month’s Detroit auto show – along with the production version of the maker’s new Prius c hybrid.

The Japanese giant isn’t saying much about the advanced plug-in but it is expected to offer significant technological improvements over Toyota’s first plug-in, a version of the conventional Prius hybrid that is just going on sale in the U.S. market.

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The Prius c, meanwhile, is set to become the newest – and smallest – member of an expanding “family” of gas-electric models sharing the Prius badge.  Both vehicles debuting in Detroit will be part of a push by Toyota to prove it remains a leader in the emerging market for “green”vehicles.

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BMW, Toyota To Swap Hybrid Engines for Diesels

Makers would share some of their strongest assets.

by on Nov.29, 2011

Toyota will swap hybrid technology used in models like the 2012 Prius v for BMW's diesel technology.

BMW and Toyota have reportedly agreed to swap diesel and hybrid powertrains in an effort to improve their fleet fuel economy.

Such partnerships are becoming increasingly popular as automakers face the rapid increase in government-mandated mileage standards in key markets such as the U.S., Europe, Japan and China.  The challenge for even the best manufacturers is to ensure they can not only meet new regulations but do it in a way that lives up to customer expectations.

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As part of their new alliance BMW would supply some of its advanced diesel technology to Toyota in return for some of the Japanese maker’s Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrains.  Toyota is the world’s biggest seller of hybrid-electric vehicles, its Prius model accounting for roughly half of global hybrid demand.

According to Automotive News a formal announcement of the partnership would likely be made this week at the Tokyo Motor Show.

BMW was a latecomer to hybrid power and has been struggling to play catch-up, with a gas-electric version of its 5-Series line to be announced at the biennial Tokyo event.  While Toyota has dominated the hybrid field it, in turn, has been slow to embrace diesel technology.

So have its key Japanese rivals – but that appears to be changing.  Mazda plans to offer a diesel version of its new high-mileage Skyactiv system and a senior Honda official told TheDetroitBureau.com that the maker is also working to expand its diesel line-up.  Significantly, as the Tokyo debut of the 5-Series “oil-burner” suggests, there are signs that diesel demand is expected to grow out of its traditional European stronghold, with sales on the rise in both the U.S. and Japan.

It’s not the first time the two makers have turned to partnerships to expand their powertrain and vehicle options.

BMW previously joined a hybrid consortium that also included General Motors, Chrysler and Daimler AG.  That helped it develop the Bavarian maker’s first hybrid offering though BMW has since walked away from that alliance.

Toyota, meanwhile, will unveil its new GT86 sports car at the Tokyo Motor Show, a vehicle it has developed in partnership with Japan’s smaller automaker Subaru – which will market its own version of the two-seater as the Subaru BRZ.  Toyota is also allied with Silicon Valley-based Tesla Motors.  The start-up battery car maker will, among other things, handle the development of the Toyota RAV-4 EV, due out in less than two years.

Toyota also announced a partnership with Ford, in August, to jointly develop new hybrid SUVs and trucks.  The U.S. maker, for its part, pays a licensing fee to Toyota for patents covering the gas-electric technologies it uses in models such as the Ford Fusion Hybrid.

Fuel Prices Up, Hybrid Sales Down

Blame the March 11 disaster. But rising hybrid prices also a factor.

by on Jun.06, 2011

Prius sales fell 51% in May and shortages were only part of the problem for Toyota.

Fuel prices are up and closing on record levels, but U.S. hybrid sales have slumped to their lowest level s in 16 months, with few signs of any imminent improvement.

Put much of the blame on the March 11 disaster in Japan that has led to a massive drop in production of key models like the Toyota Prius, the world’s best-selling hybrid, industry analysts suggest.  But soaring prices may have also been a factor.

That’s one reason why, even with a more normal supply, hybrids could continue losing ground.  There are now plenty of high-mileage alternatives on the market using diesel as well as more conventional gasoline powertrains, the latter not saddled with the hefty premium typical of hybrid vehicles.

“For those selling hybrids, it is incredibly bad luck that the Japanese earthquake and associated production disruptions occurred as gas prices were reaching their highest levels in three years,” said Lacey Plache, the chief economist at Edmunds.com.

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The March 11 earthquake and tsunami virtually shut down the Japanese auto industry for a month.  Since then, however, production has been running well below normal, especially in the home market, the only source of many key hybrids, like the Prius.  “Real and imagined supply constraints” appear to have been a key factor in the May hybrid sales slump, according to Plache.

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