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Toyota Recalls 1.6 Mil Vehicles With Takata Airbags a Second Time

Affected vehicles may still be unsafe.

by on Nov.25, 2015

The latest recall covers, among its 22 models, an older version of the Toyota Corolla.

Concluding the vehicles may still be unsafe, Toyota Motor Corp. is recalling 1.6 million vehicles equipped with Takata airbags that had been involved in an earlier recall.

The move echoes what happened at Nissan Motor Co. where a passenger was injured when a Takata airbag deployed improperly in a crash. That vehicle had also been involved in an earlier recall. There have been no reports of injuries involving the Toyota vehicles.

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The new Toyota recall covers 22 different models, including the popular Corolla, sold in Japan, as well as several European markets. No vehicles in the U.S. are involved in the new service action, though Takata airbags have so far led to the recall of nearly 20 million vehicles sold in the States.


First Drive: 2016 Toyota Prius

New look, new suspension - great mileage and moderate improvements to ride.

by on Nov.23, 2015

The top-line Toyota Prius Four Touring model starts at $30,000 plus delivery fees.

In an era when so many cars have a tendency to look alike, the Toyota Prius has been an unabashed, if somewhat geeky, standout. Of course, it’s what’s below the skin that really makes the difference. The Prius was the world’s first hybrid-electric vehicle when it made its debut in Japan in 1997 and, ever since, it has overwhelmingly dominated that segment worldwide.

But times have changed, and the third-generation Toyota Prius has been losing a lot of sales momentum this year. There are several reasons why, perhaps most notably the sharp slide in fuel prices that has reduced demand for all “green” vehicles. But there are other factors, among other things that geeky design and the less than thrilling ride offered by the old Prius.

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And those are issues Toyota has set out to address with the fourth-generation hybrid. The 2016 Toyota Prius gets a complete, top-to-bottom makeover: new skin, a new platform, a new independent rear suspension — and an updated Hybrid Synergy Drive system that delivers as much as 10% better mileage.


Hydrogen Cars Just a Dodge, Argues Tesla Exec

Fuel-cell vehicles being used as props to dodge fuel-economy rules, says O’Connell.

by on Nov.20, 2015

Tesla recently launched its second product line, the Model X battery-electric SUV.

Fuel-cell cars are little more than expensive props used by automakers to dodge increasingly tough fuel-economy regulations and emission standards, declared a senior executive from the Tesla Motor Co.

Diarmuid O’Connell, Tesla’s Vice President of Corporate and Business Development, told the Automotive Press Association Friday, that fuel cell technology simply is not practical because it will require a huge investment in an entirely new infrastructure to provide the hydrogen gas those vehicles needed.

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Electric vehicles are more practical because they do not require anywhere as much of a new investment in public infrastructure, argued O’Connell, noting that Tesla has supported an expansion of high-speed EV-charging capabilities off its own balance sheet.


Scion Hints at New Direction with C-HR Crossover Concept

Toyota’s youth brand is aiming to create its “next icon.”

by on Nov.18, 2015

The Scion C-HR Concept could be the future of the brand's new line-up: a compact crossover vehicle.

Once one of the industry’s most innovative marques, Scion is struggling to find its former magic. And Toyota’s youth-oriented brand is hoping its come up with the right formula in the form of the C-HR Concept making its debut at this week’s L.A. Auto Show.

Likely to show up in production form next year, the C-HR would become Scion’s first crossover-utility vehicle. And while it might seem a major shift in direction, the sleek and angular concept is meant to become Scion’s “next icon,” replacing the boxy xB.

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“Scion is known for doing things differently, and maybe even being a little weird,” said Andrew Gilleland, who recently was named the brand’s vice president and general manager. “This C-HR Concept embraces that idea and wears it like a badge of honor.” (more…)

First Drive: 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

New addition rounds out compact ute line-up.

by on Nov.18, 2015

Toyota continues to grow its hybrid line-up with the 2016 RAV4 Hybrid. The new sport-ute arrives at dealers early next year.

Over the years, Toyota has invested an enormous amount of resources in developing its diverse line-up of hybrid vehicles, which continues to expand in new directions.

One of the newest additions to the hybrid line-up is the 2016 RAV4 hybrid, which Toyota expects will be able to be the most fuel-efficient compact sport-utility vehicle in the hyper-competitive segment, which has drawn a flock of technically sophisticated competitors, such as the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape and Nissan Rogue in the past couple of years.

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The RAV4 is already a formidable competitor in the growing segment. (more…)

Toyota Expanding Next-Gen RAV4 Production

Growth in compact SUV segment drives move.

by on Nov.13, 2015

Toyota is planning to expand its plant in Cambridge, Ontario, to build the next generation RAV4 to meet growing demand.

Toyota Motor Corp. is targeting one of the fastest growing segments in the car business with plans to remodel an assembly plant in Cambridge, Ontario, to build the next generation RAV4 there, starting in 2019.

With production of the Lexus RX in Cambridge, and Toyota RAV4 in Woodstock and Cambridge, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada will become a North American hub for sport-utility vehicles. The company also announced that it will be adding hybrid RAV4 production to models built in Canada, said Toyota Motor North America Chief Executive Officer Jim Lentz.

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“The RAV4 and the RAV4 hybrid are great products for TMMC,” said Lentz. “RAV4 is a leader in the fastest growing segment of the North American auto industry. We forecast that the segment will continue to demonstrate strong growth with the RAV4 being a major player.” (more…)

Takata Loses $46 Mil as Toyota Calls it Quits

Future uncertain for supplier linked to fatal airbag issue.

by on Nov.06, 2015

Toyota's CEO Akio Toyoda cuts the cord and sets Takata even further adrift.

Things appear to be getting worse by the day for embattled Japanese supplier Takata Corp., the company that produced faulty airbag inflators linked to at least eight deaths and 98 injuries.

The company began the week by accepting a consent agreement with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that included a $70 million fine. It has since watched its stock go into a tailspin as a steady stream of customers has headed for the door.

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Now, Toyota has joined the exodus just as Takata announces it lose 5.6 billion yen, or $45.8 million for the first half of its fiscal year – with analysts predicting the company’s financial situation is likely only to grow worse.


Toyota Investing $1 Bil in US Artificial Intelligence Center

Technology could help make driving safer but also assist the disabled at home.

by on Nov.06, 2015

The Toyota FCV Plus cconcept is the sort of futuristic vehicle that could make use of AI breakthroughs.

Toyota will invest $1 billion to set up a new U.S. artificial intelligence and robotics research center over the next five years, the maker announced in Tokyo on Friday.

The new Toyota Research Institute Inc. will have offices in both Silicon Valley and Cambridge, Massachusetts, announced Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota and a grandson of the automaker’s founder. The facility will focus not only on ways to make driving safer but also on technology that can improve the lives of the elderly and disabled.

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A key target will be to “improve safety by continuously decreasing the likelihood that a car will be involved in an accident,” explained Dr. Gill Pratt, the CEO of the new venture. It also aims to “make driving accessible to everyone, regardless of ability,” while also applying technology “to indoor environments for the support of seniors.”


Autonomous Cars Will Soon Rule the Road, Predicts Tesla’s Musk

Owning a conventional car “will be like owning a horse.”

by on Nov.05, 2015

Tesla CEO Elon Musk predicts an autonomous car is in almost everyone's future.

Autonomous cars are coming fast, predicts Tesla Motors’ founder, CEO and resident visionary. And they will dominate the roads well before we reach the midpoint of the 21st Century, he predicts.

Tesla is taking a first step in that direction with the ongoing roll-out of its semi-autonomous Autopilot program, which will allow the owner of a Model S sedan or Model X sport-utility vehicle to cruise along hands-free on a well-marked, limited-access highway.

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Within 15 to 20 years, Musk said during a conference call, it will become “quite unusual to see cars that don’t have full autonomy.” It’s a position some, but by no means all, of Tesla’s competitors share.


Weak Yen Equals Strong Earnings for Toyota

But Japanese giant cuts global sales outlook.

by on Nov.05, 2015

The 2016 Toyota Prius will be the first model to use the Toyota New Generation Architecture.

The world’s largest automaker delivered the industry’s biggest profit for the July to September quarter, earnings for Toyota Motor Corp. rising 13.5% to 611.7 billion yen, or $5.0 billion, despite decreased sales and increased spending.

Toyota saw global sales slip by 42,000 vehicles, to 2.48 million, during the second quarter of its fiscal year, the decline coming in Europe, Japan and other parts of Asia. Even so, it generated 7.1 trillion yen, or $58.5 billion, an 8% increase in revenues.

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TMC Managing Officer Tetsuya Otake credited, “progress in cost reduction and other profit improvement activities, in addition to favorable foreign exchange rates.” The cheap yen added about 160 billion yen, or $1.3 bilion, to Toyota’s bottom line for the quarter.