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Toyota Expands Tech Center as Part of North American Reorganization

Maker getting as much as $8.6 million in incentives in Michigan.

by on Aug.27, 2014

Toyota is getting as much as $8.6 million in incentives to offset the cost of a $32.5 million expansion of its tech center in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

As Toyota moves ahead with plans to reshape its North American operations, the automaker may get as much as $8.6 million in incentives to offset a $32.5 million expansion of its technical center in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Toyota is moving 250 purchasing jobs from Kentucky to Michigan necessitating the larger facility. In addition to the expansion in Michigan, the maker is moving its headquarters from southern California to a suburb of Dallas, Texas.

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The State of Michigan is providing a $4 million grant while York Township, near Ann Arbor, is also considering a 12-year property tax abatement valued at $4.6 million. (more…)

Ram Diesel, Toyota Highlander Hybrid Win Consumer Reports Nods

Both deliver unexpected mileage, magazine says.

by on Aug.27, 2014

The Ram EcoDiesel delivers sedan-like mileage, according to Consumer Reports testers.

Consumer Reports has placed Fiat Chrysler’s Ram 1500 EcoDiesel at the top of its full-size pickup truck ratings due to its performance in fuel-economy tests, while the influential magazine also lauded the Toyota Highlander SUV.

The choice of the Ram Diesel underscores the growing intensity of the competition in the full-size pickup segment, which is undergoing a technical revolution as truck makers roll out new, more fuel-efficient powertrains and make other significant improvements meant to boost fuel-economy.

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Ford Motor Co. will launch a new, aluminum-bodied F-150 this fall that sheds up to 700 pounds and is expected to gain significant mileage, but the all-new truck wasn’t included in this round of tests by Consumer Reports.

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Toyota Adding 300 Workers to Meet Highlander Demand

Maker spending $100 million in Indiana plant expansion.

by on Aug.25, 2014

Toyota announced it would be adding 300 workers to its plant in Princeton, Ind., to meet the sales demand for the Toyota Highlander.

Much of the news lately about automakers expanding their production capabilities seems to be tied to Mexico; however, Toyota is adding 300 jobs at its plant in Princeton, Ind. as part of a $100 million expansion to increase production of its Highlander.

The project is scheduled for completion by the summer of 2016. Toyota has invested more than $4 billion into its Indiana facilities.

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Since production of the third-generation Highlander began in the Indiana plant in December 2013, sales have been strong. From January through July 2014, Toyota sold about 90,000 Highlanders, an increase of 16% over the same period the previous year. (more…)

Ford Plans to Take on Toyota Prius with New Hybrid Line

New “dedicated” hybrid line expected to debut in 2019.

by on Aug.22, 2014

Ford will take dead aim at the segment leader, the Toyota Prius, with its new "dedicated" hybrid.

Already one of the most ambitious players in the battery-based vehicle market, Ford Motor Co. wants to take a run at hybrid market leader Toyota with a new gasoline-electric model it will launch in 2018, according to a new report.

The as yet-unnamed model will be directly targeted at the Toyota Prius, the world’s most popular hybrid-electric vehicle, and will use a dedicated design, unlike other Ford hybrids that are pitched as optional alternatives in conventional vehicles.

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A report by the Reuters news service says the new model will be produced in a plant near Detroit, likely the factory in Wayne, Michigan that currently produces a mix of other Ford battery-cars, including the Focus EV, and the C-Max, which is offered in both hybrid and plug-in hybrid configurations in the U.S.

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Toyota Produces Second FT-1 Concept Sports Car

Fans relying on Gran Turismo 6 to test rumored Supra replacement.

by on Aug.14, 2014

The FT-1 concept from Toyota gets a new look with a graphite exterior and a saddle interior.

The buzz for a new Toyota Supra just went up a couple of decibels today as the automaker revealed a new version of its ballyhooed FT-1 concept car in California with a graphite exterior and saddle-colored interior.

The original FT-1 debuted at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last January in a bold red with a black leather interior. Officials were adamant that it was merely a design exercise. In fact, it didn’t even have a working engine in it. The show car borrowed a Ferrari trick, mounting a powertrain under a transparent panel.

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However, the appearance of a second edition, developed by Calty Design Research in Newport Beach, California, after the company teased fans by allowing a computerized version to appear in racing video game Gran Turismo 6, is only going to whet the appetites of Supra fans even more. (more…)

Former U.S. Attorney Monitoring Toyota’s Safety Efforts

Part of $1.2-billion settlement includes watchdog.

by on Aug.13, 2014

As part of the settlement reached by the Justice Department, led by Attorney General Eric Holder, in Toyota's unintended accretion case, former U.S. Attorney David Kelley was named as the monitor for Toyota's safety efforts going forward.

Nearly five months after Toyota Motor Corp. agreed to a $1.2-billion settlement with the U.S. Justice Department the two sides agreed on a monitor for the Japanese maker’s safety compliance efforts: former U.S. Attorney David Kelley.

In March, Toyota pleaded not guilty, but acknowledged wrongdoing in its handling of cases of unintended acceleration. The two sides reviewed more than a dozen possible candidates before settling on Kelley.

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A partner at Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP in New York, Kelley role will have him reviewing Toyota’s safety policies and procedures as well as verifying the accuracy of its public statements. (more…)

Toyota Unleashing FT-1 Vision GT Concept for Gran Turismo 6

A hint of a new Supra?

by on Aug.08, 2014

Smoke and mirrors? Toyota teases the Gran Turismo 6 version of its FT-1 Vision GT Concept.

Traditionally derided for its “plain vanilla” designs, Toyota delivered a shocker when it revealed the FT-1 Vision GT Concept at the Detroit Auto Show last January. And while the maker said it had no plans for production, fans have been hoping the Japanese giant might just change its mind.

That just might be the case. At least, Toyota isn’t letting the FT-1 fade away. And gamers will soon have a chance to take it for a spin via the wildly popular Gran Turismo 6 videogame – which has many fans wondering if there’s more in store.

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Could the exotic show car be headed for the real world, perhaps in the form of the revived Toyota Supra? That’s the possibility that is generating intense buzz online.

Whatever the plans, Toyota is offering up a tease of the Gran Turismo take on FT-1 in a 30-second video. The maker says the digital version of the Vision Concept will “soon be available for download,” where it can then be electronically inserted into the racing videogame.

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Toyota Donates $1 Million to Detroit Institute of Arts

Japanese maker joins Detroit Three in “grand bargain.”

by on Aug.07, 2014

Toyota donated $1 million to the Detroit Institute of Arts as part of the "grand bargain" designed to keep the museum's collection from being sold to satisfy the city's debt during bankruptcy.

Toyota Motor North America pledged $1 million to the Detroit Institute of Arts as part of the effort to raise $100 million toward a “grand bargain” that will help the City of Detroit emerge from bankruptcy, support city pensioners and protect the museum’s art collection from sales by creditors.

“Detroit and the surrounding areas are vitally important to the automotive community. They deserve our support,” said Simon Nagata, president of Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing, Inc.

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“Together we can find solutions to help Detroit become the healthy and vibrant community that reflects the spirit of its people. This commitment is a way to demonstrate our gratitude to the people who have built this industry and support us every day,” he said. (more…)

Lexus Ascends to Top of Luxury Sales Heap in July

Japanese maker outsells BMW and Mercedes.

by on Aug.05, 2014

Lexus nabbed the luxury sales crown in July. The maker's IS models helped to lead the way with a 24.7% jump.

The battle for the luxury vehicle sales crown has been a two brand clash for the last couple of years: BMW and Mercedes-Benz. However, the former champ, Lexus, is back in the game after it outsold the two German makers in July.

Lexus reported sales of 27,333 vehicles during July, while Mercedes-Benz reported 27,192, followed by BMW’s 26,409 units. All three brands also posted sales records for the month as new products, relatively inexpensive financing and economic recovery helped push sales.

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However, with all three brands reporting double-digit increases so far this year, BMW has built a small lead over its rivals, selling a total of 183,791 vehicles, while Mercedes-Benz has sold 178,816 and Lexus has sold 166,022. (more…)

Toyota Earnings Surge 5% on Sales Gains in U.S., Europe

But maker loses ground at home.

by on Aug.05, 2014

The new Toyota Corolla hit big in the U.S. and Europe.

Driven by strong demand in both North America and Europe, Toyota Motor Co. saw earnings surge 5% in the latest quarter.

Toyota earned 587.77 billion yen, or $5.7 billion, an all-time record, during the April-June quarter, up 4.6%, while global sales increased 2%, to 6.39 trillion yen, or $62.3 billion. Both numbers exceeded industry analysts’ forecasts. According to FactSet, the consensus called for a 12% decline in earnings compared to a year ago, with only a 1% gain in sales.

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The earnings announcement came just days after Toyota released its sales numbers for the first six months of 2013 showing it had remained the world’s largest automotive manufacturer, and apparently still on track to become the first in the industry to sell 10 million vehicles in a single calendar year – though the maker slightly reduced the sales forecast it announced in January.

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