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Posts Tagged ‘toyota iq’

Proponents Pitch Plugin Power – But at What Cost?

Tax incentives along likely to reach $7.5 billion over 7 years.

by on Sep.24, 2012

Chevrolet Volt owners plug-in their vehicles Saturday at Serra Chevrolet in Southfield, Mich. Chevrolet Volt owners celebrated National Plug In Day at nine Chevy dealerships across the country to highlight the environmental, economic and other benefits of plugin electric vehicles. (Photo by Rob Widdis)

A small but enthusiastic group of advocates marked national “Plug In Day,” over the weekend, hoping to draw more attention to fuel-efficient – if slow-selling – battery-based vehicles as the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf.

But a new study by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office raises questions about the cost of plugin power, contending that the nation is spending billions to subsidize sales of both plugin hybrids and even more advanced battery-electric vehicles.

Advocacy group Plug In America sponsored events in 60 cities from coast to coast on Sunday. In El Segundo, a Los Angeles suburb next to the city’s international airport, those interested in battery car technology were given the chance to take a test drive in a number of different electric vehicles at the Automobile Driving Museum. In New York City, battery-powered Coca-Cola and Fed Ex trucks were on display amidst the bright lights of Times Square.


Other cities marked the occasion with parades, celebrations marking the opening of new battery-car charging stations and “tailpipe-free” tailgate parties.

The fact that about 50,000 battery-based vehicles have been sold in the U.S. over the last two years should serve as “proof positive that Americans are ready to move beyond oil,” Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said. “The solution for ending high gas prices, rising oceans and Big Oil’s choke hold on our economy and democracy is using less gas. And we’re doing it. Today almost every automaker offers a car that runs on little or no oil, and Plug In Day 2012 is only the beginning of a new era of oil-free driving.”


Little 2012 Scion iQ: Small Enough to Make a Big Impression

Tiny microcar is a novelty, but does it make sense to buy?

by on Jul.26, 2012

Scion's little iQ is great for bopping around city centers in areas such as the Wayne State University campus in Detroit.

A thought came to mind while coming back from a meeting in downtown Detroit: At least this Scion iQ is better than a Smart ForTwo.

Admittedly, it’s a low bar. In a way, it’s unfair to review these little midget cars on our wide-open American roads. But if the automakers continue pitching them, we’ll keep reviewing ‘em.

At a tick over 120 inches, iQ is actually 14.5 inches longer than the Smart. With that extra length, Scion gave the iQ a tiny back seat, allowing it to claim that the iQ is the world’s smallest four-seater. Eh, OK, sure there four seats in there with four seatbelts, but, fit four actual people back there? Well, more on that later.

They Come in All Sizes!

We spent a little time running around the Wayne State University campus in the iQ. This would seem to be the perfect habitat for a micro like the iQ. It was nice being able to spin the steering wheel for a quick u-turn – the iQ would seem to have the turning radius of a zero-radius turn lawnmower – and the little car will fit in virtually anything resembling a parking spot.

With their crowded city centers, micros like the iQ make sense in Japan and Europe. But in America, the cities are generally separated by wide expanses of green and connected by smooth ribbons of asphalt. That’s a habitat where the iQ does not excel.


First Drive: 2012 Scion iQ

Is it smarter than a Smart?

by on Oct.25, 2011

Scion's iQ targets a new generation of City Car buyers.

There’s one thing you can be guaranteed will happen when driving the new Scion iQ: expect to get plenty of stares, folks routinely stopping to ask you about the little microcar.

Measuring barely five feet tall and 10 feet nose-to-tail, the 2012 Scion iQ isn’t the smallest car on U.S. roads but it comes awfully close, somehow squeezing four seats into a footprint only 14 inches longer than the 2-seat Smart fortwo.

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But this is no pedal car.  At $15,995, Scion will be commanding something of a premium considering what other makers are charging for their current subcompact offerings.  Perhaps that can be expected in the electronics world: you pay more for a smaller smartphone or MP3 player.  But getting motorists to pay more for less car is a challenge that few have so far pulled off, notably British marque Mini.

The 2012 Scion iQ hopes to take advantage of the "new urbanism," where - small - size matters.

Once you get past its miniscule size, the 2012 Scion iQ doesn’t look like a tin econobox.  A tweaked and update version of the European Toyota iQ, it has a reasonably substantial look and feel to it that comes in sharp contrast to some past small cars that made you wonder what you were risking by slipping inside.

Clearly, Toyota made a major effort to deliver a microcar that lived up to the brand’s reputation for tight fits and on-the-nail quality.  If we found a single issue after poring over our test car it was a slight misalignment in the two inside door handles – and even that appeared to be more a visual miscue than an actual defect.

Like many modern small cars, the new iQ opts for a relatively tall cabin, at least compared to its overall length.  This approach creates a much more roomy interior package than you might otherwise expect, even though the cabin is still a bit cramped, with a back seat that only barely slips into the usable category.

At 10 feet, nose-to-tail, the 2012 Scion iQ is just 14 inches longer than the Smart fortwo.

But the interior is surprisingly well-appointed, with nice details such as the sporty, flat-bottomed steering wheel.  There’s a nice mix of chrome and pewter accents completed by the piano-black finish around the center display.  Gauges and controls are well-placed and easy to reach.  The center speedo display is mated to a small digital readout that is legible but not nearly as appealing as the motorcycle-style display serving similar purpose on the new Chevrolet Sonic.

If there’s a drawback it’s the seats, which are thin and cheap feeling, almost like they were lifted out of a ‘70s-era econobox.  But they’re more comfortable than they look – at least on relatively short drives.

Another disappointment is the lack of much useful storage, with no functional glovebox, just a little tray under the passenger seat.

Under the tiny hood one finds a port-injected, 1329 cc inline-four engine making 94 horsepower and 89 pound-feet of torque.  Not exactly a rocket, but that’s reasonable for a car weighing in at just 2,150 pounds.  The specs tell you it’ll take nearly 12 seconds to get to 60, with a top speed – if you have a long enough road – to hit 100.  In practice, perhaps it’s the miniscule size of the 2012 Scion iQ but it feels a bit faster than the numbers would imply.

Scion has delivered a reasonably well-executed interior in what others might have considered a basic econobox.

It has enough oomph – okay, just barely – to let you feel comfortable in a passing maneuver on a two-lane blacktop if there’s no oncoming traffic.

The little four is mated to a Continuously Variable Transmission and under hard acceleration it seems pinned to the 4,000 rev mark, inducing that dreaded rubber-banding that is the nature of the CVT.  We’d certainly prefer the manual gearbox offered in the European Toyota iQ.

Safety is clearly an issue that a lot of folks wonder and worry about when it comes to small cars.  The recent news that the Fiat 500 has won the IIHS Top Safety Pick award (Click Here for the full story) should help potential buyers recognize that small doesn’t have to mean vulnerable.  It also helps that Scion is packing 11 airbags into the tiny confines of the 2012 iQ – including the world’s first airbag mounted behind the seats, designed to reduce injuries during a rear-end collision.

More clearly in the plus column, the Scion doesn’t just nudge into the 40 mpg club, as a number of new small cars have done but punch right past it at 50 mpg Highway and an impressive 39 mpg around town – the latter figure better than Smart’s Highway rating.

The Scion iQ during its preview at the NY Auto Show.

On the whole, Scion has done a reasonable job with the new iQ considering the severe constraints of a vehicle not much bigger than a golf cart.  It’s a hands-down improvement over the Smart fortwo, for one thing.  But is that enough to win over many American motorists?

Perhaps for those who can only park it where they used to keep a bicycle.  But other than in a few American cities does the size of the 2012 Scion iQ really offer it much of an advantage.  So, while there may be a few trend-setters who just have to have the newest, if not greatest, it’s hard to see where there’ll be much of a market.







Toyota’s youth-oriented Scion division took the wraps off the 2012 iQ, an innovative new entry in the growing segment of urban microcars.

Powered by a 1.3-liter, 4-cylinder engine, the iQ stands a mere 59 inches tall, 66 inches wide and 10 feet long. But inside there is more than ample legroom for driver and front-seat passenger. The backseat is more appropriate for one passenger, but the 50/50 fold-down back seat provides decent storage space. The iQ represents an all-new model for Scion.

The most notable feature of the iQ is its 11 standard air bags. Drivers can turn it around in a nimble steering radius of 12.9 feet, which provides maneuverability and ease of parking in narrow city streets.

The car goes on sale in early December, first on the West Coast, said Jack Hollis, Scion vice president. Dealers in the South and Southwest will begin to receive the car in January and February, with the sales launch for the East Coast and Midwest slated for March. The base price, including delivery charge is $15,995.


Scion Indefinitely Delaying iQ Minicar Launch

Toyota division blames parts shortages.

by on Apr.21, 2011

The Scion iQ, first shown at the 2010 NY Auto Show, has been delayed due to the ongoing Japanese parts shortages.

Scion has put an indefinite hold on plans to launch the new iQ minicar, putting the blame on the ongoing shortage of Japanese-made parts.

The iQ, sold in Europe under the Toyota brand, will be one of the smallest products on U.S. roads once it finally reaches production.  The Scion brand had hoped it would be able to take advantage of mounting concerns about rising fuel prices – but the launch was caught up by another major event that has shaken the global auto industry.

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Toyota’s home market plants lost a full month of production – equivalent to more than 250,000 vehicles — after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan and the subsequent nuclear crisis.  Meanwhile, with a number of key suppliers still out of action, the maker and its various divisions have only been able to resume production in Japan at half speed.  And until June 3rd, North American plants will operate at barely a third of their capacity.

So, acknowledged Scion General Manager Jack Hollis, “The iQ launch will be later than we originally planned.”


First Look: Mini Rocketman Concept

British brand goes back to its roots with 3+1 microcar.

by on Feb.22, 2011

An even mini-er Mini, the Rocketman debuts in Geneva next week.

Few automakers have undergone a more rapid brand expansion than Mini, the British marque that seems to be flooding the automotive world with new concepts and production cars.

Mini raised some eyebrows with the launch of the Countryman, last year, which was not only its largest-ever model, but its first crossover, first 4-door and first use of all-wheel-drive.  But for the upcoming Geneva Motor Show, the maker is moving in a decidedly different direction.


If anything, the Mini Rocketman Concept is a return to the brand’s classic roots.  But don’t think Mini is playing it safe.  Just 3.4 meters (about 11 feet) in total length Rocketman is a microcar that still delivers enough interior space for four passengers.


First Look: Aston Martin Cygnet

Can a commuter car also be a luxury car?

by on Jun.29, 2009

Most folks would say that luxury cars and commuter cars are mutually exclusive.  Not Aston Martin, which is developing the Cygnet concept in partnership with Toyota.

Most folks would say that luxury cars and commuter cars are mutually exclusive. Not Aston Martin, which is developing the Cygnet concept in partnership with Toyota, and using the Japanese maker's iQ as a base.

Say the name, Aston Martin, and it invariably brings up images of the most exclusive automotive products, like the DB9 or Vanquish, vehicles that can push into the $250,000 territory.

So what is Aston doing with the Cygnet, which it is billing as an “innovative commuter car concept”?  There’s a lot of interest in basic, around-town transportation, these days, but most offerings are rather basic affairs, like the Smart fortwo or the Think City electric vehicle.  Has the British maker found a way to make the terms, luxury and commuter car, synonymous rather than mutually exclusive?

It should help that Aston has turned for help to Toyota, maker of the Yaris, Venza and other forms of basic, around-town transportation.  While the British marque isn’t offering many details, it does confirm that the Cygnet concept is based on the Japanese maker’s pint-sized iQ, a 3-door hatchback that was first introduced at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show.  Measuring just 117.5 inches, nose-to-tail, iQ went on sale in Japan in late 2008, and in the U.K., this past January.

“Now is the right time for Aston Martin to take this first bold step to embark on this special project,” said Aston CEO Ulrich Bez, in a prepared release, adding “Much work is still required, but I am confident that this project could become reality in the not too distant future. This concept – akin to an exclusive tender to a luxury yacht – will allow us to apply Aston Martin design language, craftsmanship and brand values to a completely new segment of the market.”


Marty’s Marketing Minutia

Recognition, rewards and rambles.

by on May.15, 2009

Like most of you, I’m sick of the discouraging, depressing, downer news we’ve been getting all week. As much as it is possible, this is a good news edition.

GSD&M Idea City Gets Worldwide BMW Biz

There were yahoos, yippee’s, hoot’s and hollers in Austin, Texas on Thursday when word was received that GSD&M Idea City, part of the Omnicon Group, had been given the assignment as the lead global advertising agency for BMW AG in Munich Germany.

Duff Stewart, president and COO of GSD&M described the agency selection process to me in a telephone conversation this morning. Winning the account was based on a three week creative shoot-out with four other BMW agencies from around the world. 

Duff noted, “The other BMW agencies were Ireland & Davenport of South Africa, WCRS of UK, MAB from Germany and Interone of China. For GSD&M Idea City to be selected, as an agency located in Austin, Texas is wonderful. Austin has never been known as the Mecca of advertising in the U.S. It does demonstrate that ideas can come from anywhere and says a lot about the creative community in Austin, Texas. We are honored to have the opportunity to expand and grow our partnership with BMW.”

At the present time there are no plans to open offices in Germany, but Duff said team members have a monthly meeting in Germany already. The BMW team at GSD&M is headed by David Matathia, vp-idea team leader who runs the business and Jay Russell, the group creative director. No billings numbers were given, which is not unusual.  When asked about hiring additional people for the business, the response was vague – bottom line: don’t send resumes or books just yet.

BMW’s first global work via GSD&M will use the central theme “Joy,” now used in the new Z4 campaign covered below. It will be introduced this summer and in the U.S. next year.  Stay tuned for sneak previews when they become available. 

What Might Chrysler’s New Advertising Look Like?

As Chrysler’s ill conceived corporate campaign continues — I’m calling it the un-campaign – unpersuasive, unimpressive and unimaginative ads, a thought crossed my mind: what might the new Chrysler ads look like? A review of You Tube’s listing produced a variety of different creative approaches. Here are a few I liked. First is a Fiat Bravo Commercial, then a history of the Fiat 500 car and brand. Not so enjoyable is a video of a crash test between the Fiat 500 and an Audi Q5      (more…)