AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
There’s much to be said about an automaker’s CEO that is seen more often in a race suit than a business suit.
Toyota has officially announced its new framework called Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) which the Japanese automaker will use to develop multiple models simultaneously in order to boost the quantity of common parts used across its vehicles.
The move is similar to what multiple automakers are striving for in developing less platforms but more models. Volkswagen, for example, unveiled earlier this year its MQB architecture which will be adapted for a huge range of different vehicles. Toyota hopes that the new framework will reduce costs by at least 30 percent by using more shared parts.
Toyota’s motorsports partner Gazoo Racing had several machines to show off at the Tokyo Auto Salon, but none as impressive as this Lexus LFA. Prepped for race duty, the car has already seen competition, with an automotive CEO behind the wheel no less.
Akio Toyoda? Nope. Try Dr. Ulrich Bez, the man in charge of Aston Martin and a long time racer.
How exactly the CEO of a competing automaker wound up behind the wheel of the Lexus supercar is the result of a friendship that has grown between Dr. Bez and Mr. Toyoda – a friendship that started when the two shared garage space at the Nurbrgring 24 Hour endurance race a few years back.
The two automakers have volunteered to share space ever since and this past year even shared cars, with Bez getting behind the wheel of the LFA, while Akio Toyoda had the opportunity to pilot Aston Martin’s Zagato V12 race car.
GALLERY: Gazoo Racing Lexus LFA
No stranger to the Nurburgring, Aston Martin CEO Dr. Ulrich Bez has competed at the legendary racetrack since 2006, but this weekend’s event was different. That’s because Bez wasn’t behind the wheel of an Aston Martin, but a race-prepped Lexus LFA.
Bez and Toyota President Akio Toyoda swapped rides for the ninth round of the 2011 VLN series race, with Toyoda piloting Aston’s new V12 Zagato.
“Other company bosses meet on the golf course, we race together,” says Aston Martin CEO Dr. Ulrich Bez.
Rather than a PR stunt, both Bez and Toyota describe the ride swap as result of their friendship, which has developed over the years at the Nurburgring. With up to 200 cars competing on track and a limited number of pit stalls, teams at the Nurburgring are forced to share space with their competitors. Both Aston Martin and Toyota’s Gazoo Racing have done so several times in the past.
“As I learnt that our teams would share a garage once again I renewed my invitation to Akio Toyoda to drive an Aston Martin race car and I was delighted to accept his offer in return”, said Dr. Bez. “We have raced side by side regularly since the 2008 24 hour race here at the Nurburgring. Since then a personal friendship has developed into this decision to experience each other’s race cars.”
Competing in the SP8 class both executives started in their own cars and almost didn’t get the chance to make the switch when the #114 Aston Matin was struck by another car and forced to pit for significant repairs. Back on track before the end of the race, the LFA and V12 Zagato crossed the finish line side-by-side, with Bez in the Lexus and Toyoda in the Aston Martin.
Set to launch in this Fall, this is your first look at the 2012 Toyota Camry. Well, it’s your first look at one of the Camry’s headlights at least.
With an on-sale date for later this year Toyota promises the new Camry will have a “contemporary design” with improved performance and refinement, not to mention better handling. Plus, the automaker is also expected to offer its new Entune telematics system.
Described as “the best Camry ever”, CEO Akio Toyoda gives us a quick glimpse at the latest version of America’s best-selling sedan.
Watch the video after the jump:
Toyota is taking product development authority away from Japanese bosses and putting it in the hands of North American executives as part of a larger change aimed at fixing quality control issues that hurt the automaker’s reputation last year.
Until now, vehicles produced and designed and developed in North America had to be approved by chief engineers in Japan. Vehicles unique to the North American market such as the Venza, Sienna, Avalon, Tacoma and Tundra will no longer require painstaking and frustrating sign-offs from Japan at each step of the development processes.
“We are going to implement the process from design to preparation for production to development, cost planning, and identifying and selecting suppliers,” said Inaba, CEO of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. “All these processes are going to be 100 percent done here, without going back to Japan for approval.”
The changes come too late to affect the development of the redesigned 2012 Toyota Camry due this fall, however upcoming models based in North America, such as the next Tundra pickup, will see the result of the new structure.
[Source: Automotive News]
Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda has confirmed his desire to develop a successor to the iconic Toyota Supra, but has also warned Supra fanboys against getting their hopes up. In an open forum with journalists in Japan, Toyoda said that while he “wants to see the next Supra tested in the near future, ” it’s unlikely considering Toyota’s current situation.
Toyoda did say that he would like to build a new sports car, “that is better than the Supra,” which is a good thing in our minds, because to say the last-gen model was a tad on the hefty side would be a gross understatement.
Instead, Toyota will focus on a return to quality, and on building the FR-S/FT-86 compact sports car, which has reportedly been delayed due to development issues.
Toyota has already begun building an electric vehicle prototype using Tesla’s battery technology confirms company CEO Akio Toyoda. The comments were made during a meeting with journalists in Nagoya, Japan.
That news does not, however, mean that a production EV will make it to market combining Tesla’s innovation and Toyota’s reputation for quality and its ability to mass-produce vehicles. Both Toyoda and executive vice president Shinichi Sasaki commented that Toyota wants to compare Tesla’s technology against its own – which is supplied by Panasonic.
Tesla has proved that its system does work capably in the real world, but as none of the Tesla Roadsters have been tested for significant time and most are driven in less-harsh climates then the long term and real-world viability of the system has yet to be seen.
[Source: Autoblog Green]
Nobody likes a man who cries. Well, unless you’re Chris Brown, and crying at the BET Awards “saves your career.” There’s no crying in Baseball, and certainly no crying in Congressional hearings, well, unless you’re just plain guilty of everything they say you did…. Toyota‘s shareholders have noticed that.
During a June 24th meeting, company CEO Akio Toyoda apologized to shareholders again for the worst quality crisis in the company’s half-century history, with over 10 million recalls in progress, mostly resulting from cases of unintended acceleration. But what do the shareholders really want? To quote one directly:
“Mr. Toyoda, you’ve been all over the media this year and you’ve gone teary-eyed on several occasions,” the shareholder said. “For a man of your position, this is unacceptable. Please keep your chin up and try not to weep!” he pleaded.
It would be very difficult for any of us “little people” to know what it’s like to be in Toyoda’s shoes, with the entire world taking every opportunity to tear his family business to shreds, but this guy’s got a point. If you’re the CEO of a multi-national company, you don’t cry on TV.
Well, unless you’re on Oprah.
[Photo Source: Telegraph]
Toyotas are notoriously un-fun to drive, but the company’s new boss aims to change that, infusing some driving character into even the greenest of the brand’s beige offerings. In numerous interviews since Akio Toyoda took over at the helm of the world’s largest automaker, he has repeated that the brand needs products that are more fun to drive. More recently he even commented that company engineers have been instructed to add more excitement to the cars – especially the hybrids.
To prove that this is possible he points to the Hybrid Sports Car Concept, which is based loosely on the MR2, something he says is the sort of car to expect from Toyota while he’s at the helm. “I wanted a car that shows what we are aiming for, something affordable, fun to drive and good for the environment,” he says.
Toyota’s first real effort to win back younger buyers and enthusiasts, the FT-86, has created a ton of buzz but delays and development costs are driving the model up in price and pushing back its release date, having doubters wonder if Toyoda really understands what they want.
With Toyota having recently undergone the worst period in its history, the grandson’s founder and man at the helm of the Japanese auto giant looks to be ready to make big changes in order to get the company back on track. More than just an executive, Akio Toyoda is a well-known car buff who loves to get out on the race track, so its no surprise that he wants to instill some passion into Toyota’s lineup of models.
In an interview with Automotive News, Toyoda admitted that its most important model, the Camry, is now facing serious market pressure from competitors such as General Motors, Ford and Hyundai. “Look at the Ford Taurus. It may be making a comeback. GM also has Camry fighters. And they’ve been done with a fun-to-drive touch. And Hyundai is coming up, and they’re looking good,” said Toyoda. “So we have to start asking, ‘Can we just keep doing the Camry like this?’”
Fortunately for Toyota it has survived the recession and is back to profitability after recording its first ever loss. The recall crisis seems to have subsided as well, with sales signifying that current and past Toyota owners weren’t overly phased by the fiasco. The problem, however, will be getting new buyers from other brands. To do this Toyota will need a more exciting Camry. It will also need more exciting entry-level models to bring in first-time buyers.
To solve that problem, Toyoda said he wants to focus more on the “neglected” Scion brand – which will receive two new models in the next 12 months, including the second generation tC and all-new iQ mini car. Originally the Scion brand was exciting, but Toyoda admits that recently the Scion lineup has become “more like the regular Toyota vehicles.”
Also on the burner is the much-touted FT-86 entry-level sports car, which Toyoda did not comment on.
He does have high hopes for the future, however, commenting that lessons have been learned and that, “if we can apply those lessons one at a time, it won’t be long until we’re back where we were.”
[Source: Automotive News]
Criminal investigation into recall issues possible
Toyota has announced that it has received subpoenas from both the U.S. Grand Jury and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over documents related to “unintended acceleration” issues with millions or cars, as well as the braking system on the Prius.
This news comes a day before congressional hearings on the matter and a day after it was revealed that Toyota boasted on an internal document that due to lobbying it had avoided a costly recall that would have cost the company $100 million.
According to a source of the Wall Street Journal, the investigation is being handled by the securities-fraud unit of the U.S. attorneys office, which has been used in preliminary criminal investigations on high profile cases. The Department of Transportation is also examining if Toyota did not issue recalls in a timely manner. If found guilty, the Japanese automaker could face a fine of up to $16.4 million.
Later this week, Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda will testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
Just days after he said he wouldn’t, Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda has accepted an invitation to testify before the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform, which will examine the automaker’s recent spate of recalls.
“I have received Congressman Towns’ invitation to testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on February 24 and I accept,” said Toyoda in a statement issued by Toyota today. “I look forward to speaking directly with Congress and the American people.”
At a press conference earlier this week, Toyoda announced his company’s plans to reform its safety standards, but at that time Toyoda declined to speak before Congress. Instead he planned to send Toyota North America president Yoshimi Inaba.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has made known his plans to get to the bottom of the Toyota recalls, announcing that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will use its statutory powers to obtain documents from Toyota and investigate how it learned of the defects in vehicles and when it knew about them.
Official release after the jump:
Prius recall still not announced
Late last night Toyota held a press conference in Japan where company CEO and Akio Toyoda, grandson of the automaker’s founder, apologized for the recent recalls and safety concerns over Toyota products.
“The recalls are affecting several models in several regions and have caused anxiety among customers who are wondering if their cars are OK,” said Toyoda. “For that we are very sorry.”
Previous to this Toyota has been criticized for its lack of openness and minimal communication, as rumors and news reports swirled and owners of Toyota vehicles became increasingly confused. Toyoda did give a public apology once already but it was during a trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland and wasn’t covered widely.
Toyoda reassured consumers that Toyota cars are safe and announced a new taskforce that would look into consumer complaints and work to make Toyota products safe. Akio Toyoda said he would personally oversee the new taskforce, which has six main goals: first, to improve the quality inspection process; second, to enhance customer research over safety issues; third, to establish an “Automotive Center of Excellence”; fourth, to work with outside experts on quality control; fifth, to increase communications and sixth, to improve regional autonomy of its divisons and productd.
What Toyoda did not do during the press conference is announce a recall for the popular new 2010 Prius model, which Japan’s Nikkei News has reported is coming.
For complete Toyota recall information visit the AutoGuide Toyota Recall News Hub
Your company is going through a PR nightmare with nine million vehicles being recalled, worldwide. The government is investigating whether the issue is worse than you claim. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is on your tail. Consumer confidence in your product is waning. What do you do if you’re Toyota President and CEO Akio Toyoda?
Offer a public apology.
What don’t you do?
Be seen leaving in an Audi.
But that’s what happened after Toyoda apologized to his customers in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
To be fair, it’s unlikely Toyoda arranged to be picked up by the black Audi in Davos. Audi is the official vehicle supplier for the World Economic Forum, so every executive at the event would likely have been chauffeured in an Audi.
But still, Toyota just can’t seem to catch a break lately.
At a news conference in Tokyo, Toyota’s new President Akio Toyoda, said that Japan’s largest automaker has now slipped into the fourth (out of five) stages of corporate decline. Citing author Jim Collins’ How the Mighty Fall, Toyoda regretfully announced that Toyota had entered the stage called “grasping for salvation.” The previous three stages are titled 1) hubris born of success, 2) undisciplined pursuit of more and 3) denial of risk and peril.
The fifth stage is a frightful once, which Collins refers to as “capitulation to irrelevance or death.”
The news comes as Toyota’s sales continue to slump in the U.S., worldwide sales are expected to hit just 7.3 million for the year (down from 8.97 million in 2008) and just days after the automaker announced the largest recall in its history. Earlier this week Toyota announced the recall of 3.8 million vehicles due to a floor mats which could come loose, causing the accelerator to stick. While still under investigation, the problem is suspected of causing an accident that killed four people.
“Customers who chose Toyota and Lexus cars because those brands are safe and secure are now beset with anxiety,” said Toyoda, the grandson of the company’s founder. “I regret and apologize for this development.”
Speaking about the broader company, Toyoda said that the automaker has, “become too big and distant from its customers.” In recent months Toyoda has made clear he wants the company to return to its roots of building affordable quality cars using a process of slow improvements.
Toyoda, known to be an automotive enthusiast, has also proclaimed that the company needs to make halo cars that people want to buy. These include a potential new entry-level sports car as well as the flagship Lexus LF-A – which Toyoda himself has raced in the grueling Nürburgring 24 hour race.
Toyoda also cited the poor exchange rate fro the Yen to the U.S. dollar for hindering the company’s return to profitability.
[Source: Automotive News]
New model will be fun, stylish and fuel-efficient
Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda has, for the first time, officially made clear that the automaker is in fact working on a joint project with Subaru to build an affordable sports car. Toyoda made the statements at the Center for Automotive Research’s Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Michigan
The new car will be stylish, yet fuel-efficient and affordable – a vehicle that customers (U.S. customers in particular) can get passionate about.
“You’re going to have to have passion in your products,” said Jim Lentz, president of Toyota Motor Sales, USA, adding that obviously any Toyota would also be representative of the company’s focus on quality and value.
The project is an unconventional one for the Japanese automaker, but is part of a new direction that its new CEO, a self-proclaimed ‘car nut’, wants to take the company in. “I want to see Toyota build cars that are fun and exciting to drive,” he said, adding that the Toyobaru will be fast-tracked to market.
With the ongoing recession every automaker has suffered a slide in sales, but the decline for Lexus has been more significant than at its German rivals with sales down 34.1 percent for the year so far. Lexus believes part of the reason is due to a reliance on up-market SUVs and the fact that the company’s buyers tend to be from an older demographic.
To fix this, executives from Toyota’s luxury arm have told Automotive News that in the future the company will look down-market to less expensive vehicles and younger buyers at higher volumes. Additionally, Lexus will put more focus on two opposing market segments: environmentally friendly cars, and performance vehicles.
The first step in this process is the new IS Convertible, followed by the HS250h dedicated hybrid. The automaker also wants to put a lot of focus back on the IS sedan. The performance issue has also been addressed as the company plans to build a 416hp IS-F Convertible.
The list of new vehicles will extend well beyond these, however, and with BMW seeing success with the 1 Series (and planning a long list of 1 Series variants), there is a strong possibility that Lexus will follow. It’s hard to imagine Lexus would ignore an entry-level crossover that would compete with the BMW X1 and the upcoming Audi Q3.
This move by Lexus is somewhat expected as it is, to a certain extent, the same brand philosophy that Toyota follows. Recently Toyota’s now-retired honorary chairman Shoichiro Toyoda blasted company executives for a dependence on large cars, trucks and SUVs, saying that Toyota should follow its traditional and successful path of small, economical vehicles. That philosophy will no doubt be enforced by the company’s new CEO and Shoichiro’s grandson, Akio Toyoda.
[Source: Automotive News via Autoblog]