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It’s a Gas: Nikola Unveils Hydrogen Heavy-Hauler

Utah start-up hopes to build 50,000 fuel-cell trucks annually.

by on Dec.05, 2016

The Nikola One heavy-duty rig will be able to travel up to 1,200 miles on a fill-up.

A Utah-based start-up hoping to transform the heavy-duty truck industry has rolled out its first hydrogen-powered prototype.

Dubbed Nikola One, the big rig replaces the conventional diesel truck engine with a fuel-cell stack capable, it claims, of delivering the equivalent of 20 miles per gallon – or twice what the best of today’s heavy trucks can deliver. And officials from Nikola Motor Co. claim the rig will get up to 1,200 miles on a tank – though the big challenge today would be finding places to fill up.

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“There are many out there that wondered if we would deliver, but today we proudly show off the most advanced semi-truck ever built,” declared Nikola founder and CEO Trevor Milton, during a well-attended debut in Salt Lake City.


Auto Market Likely to Maintain Near-Record Momentum

But shift to utes could accelerate, forecasts Toyota autos chief.

by on Dec.02, 2016

The Toyota RAV4 may soon be Toyota's best-seller.

After several tenuous months, U.S. new car sales slipped back on their record track in November, and while it’s likely the industry has hit the peak of the current economic cycle, demand is likely to remain strong for several more years, forecast the U.S. head of automotive operations for Toyota.

What consumers will be buying is another matter, according to Senior Vice President Bob Carter, who stressed that the shift from conventional passenger cars to utility vehicles and other light trucks “is going to continue to accelerate in the future.”

Barring a sudden slowdown of the American market, sales should just nip past last year’s all-time record of around 17.5 million, said Carter, during a meeting with journalists in Detroit. “By anyone’s estimation,” he said, “that’s fantastic.”


Toyota Goes Back to Drawing Board for Next-Gen Camry

No more “refrigerators” mantra pushes maker to improve styling.

by on Dec.01, 2016

Toyota offers a hint of the new Camry model it will reveal at the North American International Auto Show.

Look for an all-new, eighth-generation Toyota Camry to make its debut at the upcoming North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the automaker’s top U.S. executive confirmed today.

Calling it perhaps the most important product the automaker has ever launched in the U.S., Senior Vice President of Automotive Operations Bob Carter said the 2018 Camry will introduce a new and much more passionate approach to design and driving dynamics. The goal is to move away from the reliable but boring product that, Carter acknowledged, is often derided as a rolling “refrigerator.”

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“We’ve been criticized for being conservative in our styling. Some of you call it boring,” said Carter, speaking to reporters at a holiday gathering in Detroit. “Now we’re focusing on building a more fun-drive, stylish vehicle” which, he said, “sent shivers down my spine the first time I saw it.” (more…)

Toyota Recalling 744K Sienna Minivans

Sliding doors could open while vehicle is moving.

by on Nov.23, 2016

The sliding doors on certain model 2011-2016 Toyota Sienna minivans could open without warning.

Toyota is recalling 744,000 minivans in the U.S. to fix defectives sliding doors that may open while the vehicle is in motion.

The Japanese maker is looking for a solution to repair 2011-2016 Sienna minivans.

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The company noted “there is a possibility that, under certain limited conditions, if the sliding door opening operation is impeded, the sliding door motor circuit could be overloaded, opening the fuse for the motor.  (more…)

Toyota Sees Role for Hydrogen Power in Heavy-Duty Truck Segment

Move could slash truck pollution.

by on Nov.18, 2016

Toyota is looking to use zero-emission fuel cells on medium- and heavy-duty trucks.

With the little Mirai model, Toyota is now one of three automakers selling fuel-cell vehicles in the U.S. market. Now, the automaker is looking into potential heavier duty applications, including the possible of using hydrogen to fuel a fleet of zero-emissions trucks.

Such an approach could create a vast new market for hydrogen technology – and solve the problem that clean air proponents have had trying to figure out how to clean up truck emissions. Because of their size and weight, as well as range issues, current battery technology does not appear to be a good fit for large, long-haul trucks.

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“Toyota has long maintained that hydrogen fuel cell technology could be a zero emission solution across a broad spectrum of vehicle types,” the Japanese maker said in a brief statement. “The scalability of this technology is enabling the automaker to explore a semi-trailer truck application for a California-based feasibility study.” (more…)

Toyota C-HR Makes Debut in LA

Japanese maker's small ute is just the latest in a parade of compacts.

by on Nov.17, 2016

Toyota unveiled its new small ute, the 2018 C-HR, at the L.A. Auto Show.

Even with the price of gasoline hovering a bit over $2 per gallon, small crossover vehicles are becoming increasingly popular with young buyers in big cities across the United States.

With sales of subcompact utility vehicles growing, Toyota used the Los Angeles Auto Show to introduce the 2018 Toyota C-HR – the initials stand for coupe high rider – which is scheduled to go on sale in the U.S. next spring.

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The new C-HR sits on subcompact 103.5-inch wheelbase with a 70.7-inch track and is a little more than five feet tall. But it can carry five passengers, comes a flat lead floor and represents a major “volume opportunity” for the Japanese automaker, according to Toyota executives, who noted the all new crossover vehicle is expected to attract young “fashion-forward, trendsetting” owners. (more…)

Toyota Breaks Ground on New Plant in Mexico

Ground-breaking comes amidst political uncertainty about U.S. trade policy.

by on Nov.15, 2016

Toyota executives and government officials celebrate the groundbreaking for the automaker's new plant.

Toyota Motor has broken ground for a new $1 billion factory in Mexico even as President-elect Donald Trump threatens to scuttle the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Toyota Motor Manufacturing de Guanajuato is the company’s 15th manufacturing plant in North America. The plant in Apaseo el Grande is the latest in a long line of new factories car makers have built or are planning to build in Mexico where the annual production is expected to reach 5 million units annually before the end of the decade.

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Global rankings of automotive producers continue to evolve yearly, but building 5 million vehicles annually would push Mexico ahead of South Korea and behind Germany among the world’s automotive powerhouses. (more…)

Toyota Paying Out $3.4 Bil to Compensate US Owners for Truck Rust Issues

About 1.5 mil Tacoma, Tundra and Sequoia owners impacted.

by on Nov.14, 2016

Toyota agreed to a $3.4 billion settlement to cover corrosion issues with about 1.5 million trucks and SUVs, including some Tacomas.

Toyota quietly reached a settlement late last month that will cost it about $3.4 billion to cover complaints of excess corrosion involving a mix of large trucks and SUVs.

All told about 1.5 million Toyota Tundra and Tacoma pickups and Sequoia SUVs will be covered by the settlement in the U.S. Owners sued because the trucks lacked adequate rust protection that could cause breakage of the frame and other components. In some cases, parts would fall off while the vehicles were being driven.

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“We want our customers to have a great ownership experience, so we are pleased to resolve this litigation in a way that benefits them and demonstrates that we stand behind the quality and reliability of our vehicles,” Toyota said in a statement. (more…)

Toyota Tumbles; Operating Profits Plunge 43%

Weakness in North America, currency shifts hammer Japanese giant.

by on Nov.08, 2016

The new C-HR could be a critical addition for Toyota.

Toyota Motor Corp.’s operating profit earnings took a 43% plunge during the July to September quarter, the world’s largest automaker struggling in the face of numerous headwinds. Net income, meanwhile, slid 36% for the quarter.

The growing strength of the yen was one problem for the Japanese giant. But the automaker also faced challenges in North America where the overall automotive market is slipping after the strongest recovery in history. Complicating matters, Toyota has been overly dependent on lower-profit passenger cars, such as the Camry and Corolla, as higher-margin trucks have been gaining momentum.

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“Supply has not kept up with demand” for more profitable models like the Toyota RAV4 and Highlander utility vehicles, acknowledged Executive Vice President Takahiko Ijichi, something that has led Toyota to trim its outlook for North America for the rest of the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017.


Long-Skeptical Toyota Reversing Course on EVs

Pressure from China and the U.S.; hydrogen infrastructure “isn’t there.”

by on Nov.07, 2016

Toyota worked with Tesla to develop the RAV4 EV it sold from 2012 to 2014.

Long focused on hydrogen fuel-cell technology, Toyota Motor Co. is reversing course and will now make a push into long-range battery-electric vehicles, according to several sources.

The move would add the Japanese giant to the list of manufacturers looking to market vehicles that get more than 200 miles per charge. A senior source within the company told that Toyota will continue to work on hydrogen power, but he acknowledged the necessary “infrastructure isn’t there,” leaving the company no alternative if it hoped to meet stringent new emissions and mileage regulations.

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“China has been pressure Toyota,” the source said, noting that the Asian nation has been aggressively promoting electrification as a way to address its endemic smog problems. U.S. regulators and clean advocates are also calling on Toyota to deliver battery cars, he said, adding, “That’s the big change for us.”