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Toyota Shifting Bet from Conventional Hybrids to Plug-Ins

Japanese giant recalls all of its new Mirai hydrogen cars.

by on Feb.15, 2017

The Toyota Prius Prime added a plug this time around, helping the automaker take advantage of the growing trend toward plug-ins.

Toyota, the company that gave the world its first mainstream gasoline-electric vehicle, says it now expects plug-ins to gain traction faster than conventional hybrids.

The revelation by the man known as the “father of the Prius” is the latest in a series of ongoing shifts in Toyota’s approach to green technologies. Long wary of lithium-ion technology, the Japanese maker is putting more emphasis on more advanced battery vehicles, including both plug-ins and pure battery-electric models. It also appears to be growing more cautious about hydrogen power.

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“Mr. Toyoda himself is leading the charge toward more electrification for the company,” said Brian Bolain, U.S. Lexus brand chief. (more…)

Three New Toyota Models Let “Families on the Go Rough it in Style”

Chicago Auto Show debut for RAV4 Adventure, Tundra and Sequoia TRD

by on Feb.09, 2017

Toyota's picked up on the idea that truck and ute buyers like to customize their vehicles a bit. The new Sequoia TRD offers that chance.

This story includes updated information.

This year’s Chicago Auto Show is all about new niche products, and Toyota has a gaggle of them to show off: rugged yet lavishly equipped versions of three of its popular light truck lines.

The RAV4 Adventure and TRD versions of the Sequoia sport-utility vehicle and Tundra pickup are all aimed at families who want to “rough it in style,” the automaker explains. They all feature improvements in off-road capabilities and performance, as well as design tweaks meant to give them a sportier and more rugged appearance.

In the Know!

That’s in keeping with what other manufacturers are bringing to this year’s Chicago Auto Show. There are more products than ever for American car buyers to choose from, but automakers also are offering more niche variants, whether sporty, upscale or just distinctive in styling. (more…)

Toyota, Suzuki Teaming Up

Will partner on R&D, parts; and target emerging markets.

by on Feb.06, 2017

Suzuki underwent a major management shake-up in 2016 after it admitted rigging mpg numbers.

Japan’s largest automaker is teaming up with one of the country’s smaller car manufacturers as part of a plan to develop new technologies, cut parts costs and boost sales in emerging markets.

Toyota Motor Corp. and Suzuki Motor Corp. on Monday confirmed widespread expectations that they would form a new alliance. But, at least for now, there are no plans for a capital tie-up between the two manufacturers.

Global News!

“Toyota and Suzuki have agreed to work toward the early realization of a business partnership,” the two said in a joint statement, issued on the same day Toyota reported a sharp decline in earnings during its fiscal third quarter.

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Toyota Earnings Tumble on Weak Yen

“No immediate plan” to shift production from Japan to U.S.

by on Feb.06, 2017

Strong demand for light trucks like the RAV4 propped up Toyota's sales in the U.S.

A strong yen translated into weaker earnings for Toyota Motor Corp. during the fiscal third quarter, with the impact likely to continue in the months to come, the company anticipating a 26% decline in its net profit for the year ending March 31.

Separately, Toyota officials told reporters that despite comments by CEO Akio Toyoda last month that the automaker will add more jobs in the U.S., there are “no immediate plans” to curb production at Toyota’s factories in Japan which produce about 3 million vehicles annually, many of them bound for America.

Breaking News!

Toyota’s earnings could have slipped even further had it not engaged in aggressive cost-cutting, Managing Officer Tetsuya Otake told reporters during a conference call. Nonetheless, the problem will continue, he said, noting, “We’ve revised our full-year yen forecast to 107 yen to the U.S. dollar from 103 yen, which is the biggest contributing factor to our profit forecast revision.”

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Toyota Cedes Global Sales Crown to VW

VW sold 10.31 mil vehicles in 2016, a 3.8% gain.

by on Jan.30, 2017

Despite the sales hit it took due to the diesel scandal, Volkswagen overtook Toyota for the global sales crown.

It’s official: Volkswagen Group became the world’s best-selling automaker in 2016, toppling king-of-the-hill Toyota by more than 150,000 vehicles worldwide.

If anything, analysts suggested, the German maker’s lead would have been even larger were it not for VW ongoing diesel emissions scandal. Demand in the key U.S. market took a double-digit dip last year, but the “people’s car” company still managed to deliver a 3.8% global increase, buyers around the world taking delivery of 10.31 million products sold under a range of marques, from entry-level Seat to ultra-luxurious Bentley, as well as the flagship Volkswagen brand.

Global Auto News!

By comparison, Toyota delivered 10.18 million vehicles last year, a more modest 0.2% year-over-year increase. The Japanese giant had snatched the sales crown from long-time leader General Motors in 2009, ceding the title only once during the past eight years. (more…)

Automakers Look for Options, Weigh Costs Under Trump

Carmakers, car buyers, car workers might all feel the impact.

by on Jan.27, 2017

Pres. Donald Trump signing an Executive Order. He plans to enact a 20% Mexican tariff.

The increasingly contentious battle between the Trump Administration and Mexico could lead to some significant collateral damage, notably including both carmakers and car buyers.

With the Mexican government rejecting a White House demand to pay for a border wall, President Donald Trump now wants to not only negotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement but impose a 20% tariff on good imported from south of the border. After making extensive use of NAFTA to set up a network of manufacturing operations in Mexico, automakers could be among the hardest hit.

Beyond the Headlines!

But there is, for now, widespread disagreement about how to respond to the Trump plan. Japanese automakers Nissan and Toyota say they are looking for ways to increase U.S. production. Ford’s CEO, after meeting with the new president this week, is rejecting the idea of building any new U.S. factories. Meanwhile, Fiat Chrysler’s chief executive says it may be time to rethink the possibility of a merger with domestic giant General Motors.

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Toyota Adding 400 Jobs at Indiana Plant

Japanese maker investing $600 million to increase SUV output.

by on Jan.25, 2017

The continued rise in popularity of the Toyota Highlander in the U.S. pushed Toyota to invest in the Indiana plant that makes it.

Toyota Motor Corp. plans add 400 jobs and spend $600 million to build more utility vehicles at its assembly plant in Indiana.

The decision tracks the steady growth of SUV sales in the U.S. during the past couple of years, which has left carmakers scrambling to add truck and utility capacity. The expansion also comes, conveniently, at a time when at President Donald Trump is asking manufacturers to build more vehicle in the U.S.

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Toyota said the jobs were part of a $600 million overhaul of its plant in Princeton, Indiana, and were included in its plans announced earlier this month to invest $10 billion in its U.S. operations during the next five years. (more…)

Fuel-Cell Vehicles Need More Time, Says Toyota Chairman

Infrastructure needs more time.

by on Jan.20, 2017

A Toyota Mirai fuel-cell vehicle.

Fuel-cell vehicles will take longer to popularize than other recent green car technologies, such as hybrids, the chairman of Toyota Motor Corp. said during a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The Japanese automaker has been an active proponent of hydrogen power, last year launching in the U.S. its first retail fuel-cell vehicle, the Toyota Mirai. There are now two other FCVs on the market, including the Honda Clarity and a version of the Hyundai Tucson, with several other automakers expected to bring their own models to market over the next several years.

The Last Word!

But while public acceptance of the original hybrid-electric vehicle, the Toyota Prius, was “much faster than we had anticipated,” Takeshi Uchiyamada told a reporter for Bloomberg news, that’s not likely to happen with vehicles like the Mirai, the chairman said, because “the infrastructure needs to be prepared before it becomes major in the market.”

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Scrubbing NAFTA Could Cost More Than 30,000 U.S. Auto Jobs

Workers, consumers could lose, not win, say experts, new study.

by on Jan.12, 2017

President-elect Donald Trump's opposition to NAFTA could have unexpected consequences.

If President-elect Donald J. Trump moves ahead with plans to derail the North American Free Trade Agreement, it could significantly impact the U.S. auto industry, but not in the way the incoming Commander-in-Chief had promised, according to a new study by the Center for Automotive Research.

After entering the presidential race in 2015, then-candidate Trump began targeting NAFTA as a major factor behind the loss of American manufacturing jobs. He has repeatedly called out automakers, including Ford, General Motors and Toyota, for importing Mexican-made vehicles, and threatened to either end or modify the trade deal or, alternatively, to enact a 35% tariff on goods brought in from the country.

News Now!

“Counter to the incoming Trump Administration’s goal of creating manufacturing jobs the withdrawal from NAFTA or the implementation of punitive tariffs could result in the loss of 31,000 U.S. jobs,” said CAR, a highly respected automotive research firm in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

(more…)

Toyota Adding Navigation to all 2018 Camry Sedans

Japanese maker rapidly expanding array of connected vehicle services, technologies.

by on Jan.10, 2017

Toyota's Entune 3.0 will roll out with the new Camry, featuring Dynamic Navigation, which ensures drivers are using the most up-to-date maps on their trip.

Toyota plans to make navigation systems standard on all of its completely redesigned 2018 Camrys, the head of the maker’s connected vehicle unit announced during a news conference at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

That move is part of a broader push by the automaker to expand the availability of connected car technologies and services, some as standard equipment, others as profitable options. Many of the features Toyota is working on update its infotainment technology, others will improve vehicle safety and functionality.

News Now!

“The amount of technology in cars has been growing exponentially,” said Sandy Lobenstein during his NAIAS News conference. (more…)