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GM Slides to 3rd as VW Nabs 2nd Spot in Global Sales

Toyota firmly in the lead.

by on Oct.16, 2014

Vehicles like the new Golf "family" have helped Volkswagen grow sales worldwide.

For three-quarters of a century the world’s best-selling carmaker, General Motors has slipped another notch down the automotive ladder, Volkswagen AG pushing past to become number two in the industry pecking order.

With the first nine months of the year behind it, the German maker sold 7.4 million passenger vehicles compared to 7.37 million for GM. Though it hasn’t reported its numbers for the first three quarters yet, Japanese giant Toyota Motor Co. is expected to maintain its hold on the industry’s number one spot.

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Industry analysts say the real race, going forward, is likely to be between Toyota and VW, the German automaker laying out an aggressive expansion program it hopes will let it become king-of-the-automotive-hill before the end of the decade.

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First Drive: 2015 Toyota Camry

The midsize market’s 800-lb gorilla gets an unexpected thorough makeover.

by on Oct.15, 2014

The 2015 Toyota Camry is full of surprises, including the fact that it got a top-down makeover just three short years after the last generation's introduction.

We live in an era of individuality. Whether it’s cellphones or sedans, Americans want products that reflect their individual tastes and needs. That’s especially true in the auto industry where buyers can choose from hundreds of different offerings and even a luxury brand like Mercedes-Benz has promised to deliver 30 new models by the end of the decade.

Yet a few key products routinely defy this trend, none more effectively than the venerable Toyota Camry which in 2013 generated about 408,000 sales in the U.S. alone, with the Japanese maker expecting that to reach 415,000 this year. When you’re clear and away the industry’s best-seller, why change your formula?

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And for the past three decades, Camry has, indeed, changed relatively little – which is why Toyota delivered such a shock when it unveiled the updated 2015 Camry earlier this year. Introduced barely three years after the last full model update, we might have expected only the most modest revisions, perhaps a new fascia and some tweaks to the interior. Instead, Toyota has changed nearly every single body panel and heavily reworked the cabin. (more…)

Toyota Recalling 1.67 Million Cars Globally

Maker’s actions affect 423,000 US vehicles.

by on Oct.15, 2014

Lexus GS sedans built between 2005 and 2010 are part of a larger recall due to faulty fuel delivery pipes.

Toyota is recalling 1.67 million vehicles worldwide, including 423,000 in the United States, for problems ranging from potential fuel leaks to faulty brake cylinders to defective emissions equipment.

The recall that impacts U.S. owners stems from a fuel delivery pipe that may leak. If it does, it’s possible that it could start a vehicle fire. The recall impacts 795,000 globally, including the aforementioned 423,000 units in the U.S.

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The vehicles affected include Toyota Crown, Crown Majesta and Mark X cars and Lexus IS, GS and LS sedans built from January 2005 to September 2010. While no injuries or accidents have resulted from the problem, complaints from the U.S. began in late 2010. (more…)

Toyota Takes Top Automotive Brand Spot…Again

Automakers score well, but lag leading tech brands.

by on Oct.10, 2014

Toyota was tops among automakers, but was only the eighth-ranked brand overall.

The annual survey of the world’s most valuable brands by Interbrand has placed Toyota at the head of the automotive class.

Toyota was eighth-ranked overall, lagging such global tech giants as #1 Apple, second-place Google — and third-ranked Coca-Cola. Interbrand estimated this week the combined value of the list automotive companies appearing on the Best Global Brands ranking increased by 14.6% compared to the 2013 list, in what turned out to be something of a record year for the automotive sector.

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Three of the five “Top Risers” hailed from the automotive sector, Interbrand reported.

The top 13 automotive brands on the annual Interbrand list included Toyota, at number one, its value increasing by20%. Next was Mercedes-Benz at the number 10 spot overall, and gaining, 8% in its brand value. It was followed by BMW at 11th, its brand value up 7%.

Other automakers on the list included: (more…)

Safety Watch List Topped by 2012 Ford Focus

Second consecutive quarter it takes top spot.

by on Oct.02, 2014

The 2012 Ford Focus topped The Safety Institute's quarterly "Watch List" due to steering problems.

Drivers of the 2012 Ford Focus sustained more injuries than those in any other vehicle in the U.S., according to The Safety Institute’s quarterly “Watch List.” It’s the second straight quarter the Focus has topped the list.

The complaints, which are made to the National Highways Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), center on two issues: allegations that the electric power steering shuts down randomly and intermittently as well as complaints about delaminating steering wheels that lacerate drivers’ hands.

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“The steering wheel has sharp metal edges protruding from the top of the wheel,” one person wrote in a complaint. “While driving on the highway, I sliced my finger on the edge. Not a major incident… but upon reviewing the Internet this is apparently a common issue with the Ford Focus… My hope is that Ford will repair or replace the metal on the wheel so it is no longer a danger while driving.” (more…)

Toyota, Nissan and GM Take Top Honors in Motorist Choice Awards

Balancing customer satisfaction and cost of ownership.

by on Sep.24, 2014

Toyota's FJ Cruiser is the favorite SUV, according to IntelliChoice and AutoPacific's Motorist Choice Awards.

When it comes to the brands that best fit their lifestyle needs, U.S. drivers are pointing to Toyota, Nissan and General Motors, the three topping the charts in the new Motorist Choice Awards.

Compiled by data tracking service Intellichoice and automotive research firm AutoPacific, Inc., the awards are meant to reveal the vehicles that deliver the best combination of customer satisfaction and lower-than-expected operating costs.

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“Buyers look for a vehicle based on their usage needs and emotional desires” said Daniel Hall, vice president of AutoPacific. “By paying attention to these buying patterns, and incorporating our satisfaction data and IntelliChoice’s cost of ownership insights, we can offer sound advice to consumers across all vehicle segments.” (more…)

Toyota Teases C-HR Crossover Concept

"Innovative vision" could signal new Scion cute-ute.

by on Sep.16, 2014

Toyota offers up a teaser silhouette of the C-HR concept crossover coming to the Paris Motor Show.

Toyota helped define the small crossover when it launched the original RAV4 two decades ago. Now it’s apparently getting ready to take things a step further with the “innovative vision for a compact crossover” it will introduce at the Paris Motor Show in less than a month.

The Japanese reveals the new model has been dubbed the C-HR, and it’s offering up this teaser silhouette image, but beyond a few gushing platitudes, it is providing few specific details.

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Among other things, we learn from its news release, the Toyota C-HR marries “a new design language with an engaging driving experience and a hybrid powertrain.”

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Toyota Eyeing Plant for Mexico

Maker reportedly eyeing several possible locations.

by on Sep.11, 2014

Toyota may be the next to head South of the Border.

Toyota may soon become the next major automaker to open an assembly plant in Mexico, following other global manufacturers including BMW, Kia and Mercedes-Benz, all of whom announced plans to set up operations “South of the border” in recent months.

Toyota, which already operates an extensive manufacturing network in the U.S. and Canada, would not be a stranger to Mexico. It already operates a so-called “kit car” plant in Baja, California an hour south of Tijuana, that assembles about 50,000 small pickup trucks annually.  But unlike other global manufacturers, Toyota has not built a full-scale assembly plant in Mexico, which has seen automotive-oriented investments boom in recent years.

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Mexico is already the world’s sixth-largest auto producing nation, with manufacturers including Detroit’s Big Three, Volkswagen and Nissan, firmly entrenched. Audi is in the midst of readying a plant near Puebla that will become the first to build luxury cars. Honda joined the procession in February, and, just since June, Kia Motor Corp. BMW AG and Daimler AG have announced plans for Mexican operations.

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Toyota Aims to “Redefine” Urban Utility with U2 Concept

A “flexible, functional gadget.”

by on Sep.10, 2014

Toyota's Urban Utility concept will make its public debut in NY City later this month.

With millions of people from Boston to Berlin and Beijing moving back into cities, automakers are trying to rethink what that might mean for the automobile. One possible example is Toyota’s new Urban Utility concept.

Also known as the U2, the prototype is meant to “redefine urban utility,” the maker says, by balancing the need for smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles with those that can continue to appeal to “Americans’ love of adventure.”

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Developed at the Japanese maker’s Calty Design Research Center in Newport Beach, California, the U2 adopts an extremely flexible “architecture” that allows for a wide range of cargo and seating configurations, a fold-back roof, even a tailgate that can turn into a ramp.

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Tesla CEO Hints “Significant” New Deal with Toyota in the Works

But joint venture could be “two to three” years off, cautions Musk.

by on Sep.09, 2014

Toyota is putting the kibosh on the RAV4 EV, but it may not be the end of its working relationship with Tesla, according to Elon Musk.

With Toyota about to pull the plug on its slow-selling RAV4 EV, it looked like the Japanese maker also was switching off its relationship with Silicon Valley start-up Tesla Motors – but it now looks like another deal linking the two manufacturers is in the works.

Exactly what they’re working on hasn’t been revealed, but it could come to light in “two to three years,” according to Tesla Founder and CEO Elon Musk.

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“If you look out maybe two or three years from now, I would not be surprised if there was a significant deal with Toyota and Tesla,” the oft-garrulous Musk told reporters during a visit to Tokyo. (more…)