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Toyota Reveals “Architecture” for Global Expansion

Maker plans to build stronger, safer, more efficient vehicles.

by on Mar.26, 2015

Toyota EVP Mitsuhisa Kato outlined the automaker's New Global Architecture to build better vehicles.

After briefly putting growth on hold, Toyota Motor Co. has unveiled the “architecture” of its global growth strategy, a plan that relies on new products, new technologies, and improved quality and reliability.

The strategy, dubbed Toyota New Global Architecture, or TNGA, the announcement marks the end of the “intentional pause” Toyota President Akio Toyoda had ordered as the maker took stock following a series of quality and safety problems several years ago.

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The goal is to allow Toyota to grow in a “sustainable way,” said Executive Vice President Mitsuhisa Kato during a presentation at the maker’s headquarters in Toyota City, 200 miles southwest of Tokyo. That and other challenges are “making our effort to come out with ever better cars increasingly difficult.” (more…)

Scion Teases Two Debuts Coming to New York Auto Show

Toyota’s youth-oriented brand gets all-new models.

by on Mar.18, 2015

The Scion iA sedan is designed to appeal to young people who need a little more practicality, but still want engaging styling and outstanding driving dynamics.

Long-stumbling Scion is looking to recapture its lost magic with younger buyers with the introduction of two new models at the New York International Auto Show: the iM and iA.

The brand released a couple of teaser photos of the two vehicles today to hype the new models.

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The Scion iM is a five-door hatchback, which was shown as a concept last November at the L.A. Auto Show, while the iA is a four-door sedan that is “designed to appeal to young people who need a little more practicality, but still want engaging styling and outstanding driving dynamics.” (more…)

Steering, Other Problems Lead to New Toyota Recalls

Bigger issue could leave Camry sedan with “complete loss” of power steering.

by on Mar.12, 2015

The Toyota Camry got a major update for 2015.

Toyota has ordered up several new recalls for a variety of issues, the most serious potentially leading to a “complete loss” of power steering in several of its most popular models, including the recently redesigned Camry sedan.

Though it would still allow a driver to muscle through turns, the maker warned, the problem “increases the risk of a crash.”

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The second problem could cause some of Toyota’s RAV4 EV battery cars to unexpectedly shift into neutral making it impossible to move out of the way were the issue to occur while on a freeway or in a traffic jam.

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Toyota Killing Off Venza – but New Midsize CUV Likely to Follow

Camry-based Venza never clicked with U.S. buyers.

by on Mar.05, 2015

A Venza at the new Toyota engineering center near Detroit.

On paper, at least, it was a great idea. Toyota’s Venza was designed, engineered and manufactured in the U.S. market, and was expected to connect with U.S. buyers in a special way.

But as the sales numbers reveal, that didn’t happen, and Toyota is now set to kill off the Camry-based crossover-utility vehicle. While production for overseas markets is expected to continue at the maker’s Georgetown, Kentucky, plant through September 2017, the last Venza will be shipped to U.S. dealers in June of this year.

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No jobs will be lost at (the Kentucky plant) as a result of this decision,” stressed Toyota spokesman Mike Kroll in an e-mail to TheDetroitBureau.com. “At this time, no specific plans are in place for a replacement vehicle.” (more…)

Big Changes in Toyota Management

Top American exec expands role; maker appoints first woman as global PR chief.

by on Mar.04, 2015

Toyota Motor North America Chief Executive Officer Jim Lentz spoke at the groundbreaking of the company's new headquarters in Plano, Texas.

Toyota is making some big changes to its senior management, and while most of the moves focus on the critical North American market, the world’s largest automaker also plans to shatter Japan’s glass ceiling by promoting Julie Hamp to run its global public relations efforts.

The appointments come at a time when Toyota is making other big changes, including the move of its North American headquarters from California to a sprawling new campus in Plano, Texas.

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“Bringing together an experienced and diverse team of executives with fresh perspectives, unique regional insights and a global mindset will help us better serve customers around the world,” said Toyota Motor Corp. Pres. Akio Toyoda, in a prepared statement.

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Toyota Putting its Quirky i-Road into Tokyo Carsharing Program

Users can rent it for 2.5 hours at a time.

by on Feb.26, 2015

Toyota is using its i-Road EV as part of a carsharing project in Japan and France.

It looks like the illegitimate offspring of a motorcycle and a Smart microcar, and was initially laughed off as one of the endless stream of quirky concept vehicles Japanese makers have historically rolled out.

But the Toyota i-Road didn’t disappear like most of those concept cars after making its debut at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show. The pint-sized three-wheeler is about to be offered for public use as part of a carsharing program in Tokyo. It’s also part of a public transport plan being developed by the French city of Grenoble.

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The i-Road makes the Smart Fortwo looks positively huge. The diminutive vehicle can squeeze in two – just barely – seated tandem style. And it’s not designed to replace a conventional automobile. Toyota says it I meant to be used for “the last mile,” in conjunction with a mass transit system. (more…)

2016 Toyota Avalon Gets Makeover

Top-end midsize sedan gets a touch up rather than radical remake.

by on Feb.12, 2015

Toyota introduced the 2016 Avalon in Chicago. With a boatload of advanced technology, the sedan should remain at the top of the segment.

More than 40 years ago, Robert Plant waited for “the angels of Avalon.” Well, he needn’t wait any longer as Toyota let fourth generation Avalon spread its wings at the Chicago Auto Show today.

More evolution than revolution, the new Avalon relies on a preponderance of technology and a shot of adrenaline under the hood to mix with Toyota’s good ol’ fashioned quality, durability and reliability to set it apart from competitors in the high-end midsize sedan segment.

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The tweak may be coming at the right time for the Avalon. Even though it was the best-selling premium midsize sedan last year, sales were down 5.4% to just over 64,000 units. It’s had a nice rebound in January, up 7.4%, but that may be as much about the lower gas prices than some renewed appreciation for the car. (more…)

Toyota Rolling out Three at Chicago Auto Show

Sporty editions of Camry and Corolla join 2016 Avalon.

by on Feb.06, 2015

Toyota is debuting the 2016 Avalon at the Chicago Auto Show next week, but provided an early glimpse at the redesigned sedan.

Toyota is looking to create some bluster at the Chicago Auto Show next week with the introduction of its newly redesigned Avalon sedan, plus two sporty versions of the Camry and Corolla.

The automaker sent out a little teaser photo of its new full-size sedan, but didn’t reveal anything else in the way of specs or pricing. However, the new sport special edition versions of the new Camry and Corolla show that the maker is clearly listening to the market and the popularity of tweaked out sedans.

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The 2016 Camry Special Edition features an “extra dose of both aggressiveness and technology.” The Camry Special Edition will be powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. (more…)

Toyota Profit Beats Expectations as Maker Ups Earnings Forecast

Weak yen helps, but problems in China and home market persist.

by on Feb.04, 2015

Toyota is hoping the next-gen Tacoma will keep the good times rolling sales-wise in the U.S. in 2015.

Toyota Motor Co. delivered a 14% increase in earnings during the most recent quarter, outstripping analysts’ expectations. The maker also said it is raising its forecast for the full fiscal year, even though it cut the estimate of how many vehicles it will sell.

Toyota delivered net earnings of 600 billion yen, or $5.1 billion, between October and December – the third quarter in its fiscal year. Industry analysts surveyed by FactSet had anticipated a profit of 540 billion yen, or $4.6 billion.

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The Japanese maker – which remained the world’s best-selling automotive manufacturer in 2014 – credited several factors for the strong performance, including the lift it got from the weakening yen, as well as cost-cutting efforts. (more…)

Scion Aims to Regain Youthful Allure

Flood of new products promised.

by on Jan.23, 2015

The Scion tC Release Series 9.

Scion is turning to an old idea in its bid for young drivers, giving its tC Coupe a two-tone paint job based on a popular custom car show concept.

Originally aimed at youthful “influencers” who would draw buyers into showrooms for parent Toyota’s products, Scion has lost a lot of its early momentum in recent years, recent models like the micro-sized iQ and second-generation xB falling flat in the marketplace. Despite speculation Toyota might give up on the Scion brand-within-a-brand, the Japanese maker has no intention of pulling the plug and is, instead, promising to roll out an assortment of edgy new models that it hopes will recapture Scion’s original energy.

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“We’re committed to Scion,” declared Bob Carter, head of Toyota’s U.S. auto operations, during a speech at an industry confab in San Francisco this week. The sub-brand remains “a test bed for Millennials,” and a significant part of Toyota’s broader strategy.

It sees Scion as a critical bridge to help it gain new buyers for the Toyota brand which has long been dependent on now-aging Baby Boomers.

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