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Toyota has announced the final 25 winners in the 100 Cars for Good program. The program gave away 100 free Toyota vehicles to charitable organizations to assist them in their selfless work. Continue Reading…
Applications opened at noon Eastern Standard Time, today for Toyota’s 100 Cars for Good campaign that donates the aforementioned number of cars to 100 non-profit organizations over a period of 100 days.
Last month we reported that the program would enter its sophomore year, which began today. Applications are being accepted until March 26 at 11:59 Pacific Standard Time or until 5000 applications are received. That number will then be narrowed down to 500 total organizations and divided into groups of five. One group of five will be voted on by Facebook users every day for the contest duration.
Runners up will reviece a $1000 grant from Toyota, while winners will be eligible for one of six vehicles including a Camry Hybrid, Highlander SUV, Prius v hybrid, Sienna minivan, Sienna Mobility or Tundra full-sized pickup. Each vehicle will also be backed by a six-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Each one of the finalists will submit a video and explanation of how a car will help further its work. Toyota will also provide a digital video camera training toolkit and advertising credits to encourage a better advertised campaign.
“Toyota’s donation was a game changer for us, making it possible to significantly expand our food programs at a time of extraordinary need. This ability to serve more people and to bring greater awareness to our mission simply wouldn’t have happened without Toyota,” said Teresa Connolly, executive director of New Jersey’s Community Soup Kitchen, which received a Sienna last year.
The program will run over the course of 100 days, with Toyota awarding 100 vehicles to 100 non profit organizations in the US. In order to determine which non profits receive the cars, Toyota has organized a public voting pole on its corporate Facebook page, with the winners selected based on the highest number of votes.
Non profits interested in participating in the program can register online, beginning March 12, with the enrollment process lasting for two weeks or until 5,000 applications have been received. From these, an independent judging panel, whose members specialize in the fields of philanthropy and social responsibility will select 500 finalists. These finalists are then invited to submit videos showing how the addition of a new vehicle would help them in their work. Each of the videos will be posted on the Toyota 100 cars website. From there, beginning in May, voters will then select the 100 winners over the course of 100 days.
“At Toyota, we appreciate what a big difference a new car can make for organizations working to improve lives and strengthen communities across the country,” remarked Michael Rouse, Toyota’s vice president of philanthropy and community affairs. “Over the last 20 years, Toyota has contributed more than half a billion dollars to nonprofits throughout the U.S. and 100 Cars for Good allows us to build on that commitment in important, new ways by making the public an integral part of these efforts and harnessing the power of social media to expand awareness and galvanize support for organizations that are having such a tremendous impact in neighborhoods nationwide.”
It seems to be an emerging trend amongst Japanese automakers, one of transferring critical aspects of operations to locations outside of Japan. Nissan has already done it by opening a new HQ in Hong Kong, now Lexus is looking to shift key units, notably it’s global marketing operations, from the Japan to the US.
Executive vice president Yukitoshi Funo says that the move is part of a plan to make the brand seem less Japan-centric and reinforce it’s image as a global powerhouse. In some respects it’s perhaps a bit ironic since Japan was one of the later markets where Lexus, as a brand was introduced (many JDM versions of Lexus cars and SUVs being labeled as high zoot Toyotas for many years).
With the move of global marketing operations, there are also rumors circulating that Lexus could move its actual global headquarters overseas, though as yet such reports are unfounded. If such a scenario were to materialize, many say that the US would be a logical choice, as the brand has been established the longest here.
Whether that happens or not, the shifting of marketing responsibilities Stateside indicates that a new mentality is taking hold at Toyota, reinforced by one company executive during a Tokyo Motor Show reception who elected not to use chopsticks while eating. “We [as a company] don’t want to be blatantly Japanese,” he said.
[Source: Automotive News]
At least in Japan. In Toyota‘s home market, the automaker announced that it will retail the Prius Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle (PHV) for some 3.2 million Yen (equivalent to some $41,000 US) and has begun taking customer orders.
The sticker price is a bit more than Toyota originally envisaged, but in Japan, still undercuts the all-electric Nissan LEAF which sells for some 3.6 million yen.
Furthermore with Japanese government rebates, the price of the PHV drops to about 2.76 million yen (roughly $35,000). That’s less than projected European pricing for the car when it goes on sale (estimates place MSRP in Europe to be around the equivalent of some $37,000 US), though above projected Stateside pricing ($32,000).
The question is, at those levels, will the PHV achieve a similar level of success enjoyed by the regular Prius in the US? Difficult to say at this point, but given the Prius’ somewhat celebrated status among the “green set”, greater flexibility and lower price point than all-electric vehicles, there’s a distinct possibility. Any bets on the PHV winning Green Car of the Year next time out?
Continuing with a look at some of the “themed” pickup trucks on display at this year’s SEMA show, we bring you the Toyota Oakley Surf Tacoma.
This one, as you might imagine was done in conjunction with famed surfing company Oakley and to quote Toyota’s official press release “has the ability to live at the beach and go anywhere in search of mega waves; from the coast of Baja to the cold water of Santa Cruz, California.”
Features include a purpose-built racking system for storing surfboards, bags and other equipment, plus a modified pickup bed with storage for wetsuits, plus an ice chest and barbeque grill. There’s even a retractable canopy so you and a few of your surfing friends can enjoy a cold drink and a hot meal in the shade, while a built in shower system means you can get rid of all that salt from wave riding before chowing down.
Inside, the cab boasts Wet Okole Hawaii seat covers with custom embroidery, plus Topstitch on the door panels, carpet and headliner. There’s also a thumping Kicker Audio system and of course a signature Oakely icon.
While the Tacoma’s stock V6 is a decently potent engine, for a SEMA show truck, a little excess was called for and Toyota engineers bolted on a supercharger kit from the company’s TRD parts catalog, resulting in 304 hp. Other performance mods include a Flowmaster free flowing stainless exhaust, plus suspension upgrades in the shape of an Icon Stage 3 lift kit; Billet front upper control arms, special coil over front springs and new leaf springs out back. Wheels are black finished Walker Evans 17 x 8-inch bead lock units mounted on BF Goodrich 285/75-17 all-terrain tires.
Outside, the truck is finished in menacing black with contrasting white Oakley graphics and logs, plus Vision X front driving lights, a custom front bumper incorporating a winch and under vehicle skid plates.
Once it’s duties at SEMA is over, the Oakley Surf Tacoma will begin a new lease of live, being taken to each and every Oakley Surfing competition in the land; not a bad idea by all accounts.
GALLERY: Oakley Surf Tacoma
If sales continue to grow steadily in emerging markets, then it looks very likely that by the end of this year, Volkswagen AG will overtake Toyota as the world’s biggest volume producer of automobiles.
VW’s sales, which ranked third in 2010 are expected to rise by some 13 percent this year, resulting in a total of 8.1 million vehicles finding owners across the globe, according to projections from three different auto analysts, surveyed by Bloomberg.
The surge is expected to come primarily from China, where gains are expected to be around 20 percent for VW and also India, where the automaker’s volume is forecast to more than double.
According to Jenny Gu, a senior market analyst for J.D. Power & Associates, based in Shanghai, “Emerging markets are at a stage of car-adoption by consumers and there is still a large space for sales to grow. VW realized this and put a lot of effort on emerging markets.”
Toyota, by contrast, is still struggling in the wake of the March 11 natural disaster in Japan. In addition, the company also had to suspend operations in Thailand recently due to heavy floods, though analysts at IHS Automotive believe that Toyota has every chance of recovering and nudging VW out of the lead as the largest vehicle producer next year, provided its recovery remains on track. Current estimates from IHS peg Toyota selling some 8.4 million vehicles next year, about 500,000 more than Volkswagen.
Whether that happens or not, one thing’s certain; emerging markets are seen as key to growth in the automotive sector, as sales in developed countries slow. Volkswagen plans to invest a record 62.4 billion Euros (approximately $87 billion US) next year, plus another 14 billion Euros on its joint venture operations in China.
VW was the first western automaker to set up shop in China and has been selling cars there for around three decades. And it looks like its goal of becoming and remaining the world’s biggest automaker in terms of volume is likely to bear fruit, for in addition to VW products, it’s also seen demand for its Audi brand vehicles grow significantly.
In terms of global sales, Audi nudged past Mercedes-Benz this year to become the second volume seller of premium branded cars and SUVs in the world, behind BMW. In addition, Audi plans to build another factory in China in order to cope with growing demand – sales in that country are projected to reach some 700,000 units annually by 2015, according to Dietmar Voggenreiter, head of Audi’s Chinese operations.
However potential obstacles to achieving number one status still loom on the horizon. The ongoing dispute between VW and Suzuki over their intended alliance is likely to cause possible road blocks, especially in India where Maruti-Suzuki is by far the most dominant player in the automotive market, as is the situation at home between VW and Porsche AG, where a planned merger is experiencing significant delays.
[Source: Automotive News]
It was inevitable. With much of the full-size, body-on-the-frame competition adopting standard Trailer Sway Control, Toyota has now added it to the 2012 Sequoia SUV.
Another feature, new on the big truck for 2012, is a blind spot monitoring system, offered on top-level Platinum trim rigs, designed to reduce the risk of Sequoia drivers pulling out in front of other motorists.
Otherwise, things are much as before, three trim levels, SR5, Limited and the previously mentioned Platinum, two engines (a standard 4.6-liter V8 with 310 hp and a 5.7-liter iForce unit with 381 hp), six-speed automatic transmission with tow/haul mode, four-wheel independent suspension, a choice of two or four-wheel drive (the latter with a two-speed electronically activated transfer case and locking Torsen center diff), second and third row split folding seats, plus a 7400 lb max towing capacity.
All 2012 Sequoias come with Toyota’s standard 3-year, 36,000 mile warranty, while powertrain defects are covered for up to 60,000 miles and body corrosion for 5 years. Given the lack of change and rumors circulating that there probably won’t be a next generation Sequoia (at least one like this), if you’re in the market for such a vehicle, it’s probably best to try and get one while you still can.
Now this is one subject that’s likely to polarize opinion, the fact that a Toyota Camry, will pace the 2012 Daytona 500 in February.
A generation ago, the very notion that a Japanese car would be leading the field during a NASCAR race was almost unthinkable, now, it appears to be a reality. However there is some logic to this. The Camry has, for the last 13 out of 14 years, been the best selling car in America and since 1986, all of those sold here, have also been built here, at Toyota’s Georgetown, Kentucky assembly plant.
As the car has woven its way into the heart of America’s psyche it’s started popping up everywhere and it seems to have been greeted with a growing amount of enthusiasm, even amongst stock car racing insiders.
“NASCAR and Daytona International Speedway provide a uniquely American platform for manufacturers to display their technology, innovation and overall automotive excellence,” remarked Joie Chitwood III; President of Daytona International Speedway. “After nearly eight years of competing at NASCAR’s highest level, I’m pleased to have the 2012 Toyota Camry pace the DAYTONA 500.”
Toyota has been competing in NASCAR since 2004, beginning with Tundra pickup based stockers in the World Truck series. It has won five consecutive manufacturer’s titles in that series, while propelling drivers to the championship on three separate occasions (Jeff Bodine 2006 and 2010; Johnny Benson 2008).
In 2007 Toyota began running Camrys in the Nationwide Series and has since claimed 60 wins and three manufacturer’s cups as well as propelling Kyle Busch to the driver’s title in 2009.
Getting back to pace cars, Toyota has already used Camrys at the following NASCAR tracks: Auto Club Speedway of Southern California, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Chicagoland Speedway, Dover International Speedway in Delaware, California’s Infineon Raceway, Kansas Speedway, Martinsville Speedway in Virginia, Nashville Superspeedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Phoenix International Raceway, Richmond International Raceway; Wisconsin’s Road America and Watkins Glen International.
So, the very notion of a Camry pacing the Daytona isn’t perhaps too much of a stretch, though Toyota could perhaps use this opportunity to try and make the pacer at least a little bit exciting.
Click here to read AutoGuide’s 2012 Toyota Camry Review or watch the video review after the jump:
According to a number of Toyota dealers, who recently got a sneak peak at the next generation Avalon, the company’s full-size cruiser will reportedly be transformed into a sleek, Euro inspired car, in the mold of the Audi A7 or Jaguar XJ.
This represents an about turn for the Japanese Buick, though inside sources report that the car will continue to be front-drive and powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine, so even though Toyota says handling will also be improved, don’t expect it to be able to keep up with an A7 or XJ in the curves.
The revamped Avalon is just one of several bread and butter Toyotas undergoing a makeover, the 2012 Yaris and Corolla having received quite significant styling tweaks, designed to give them a bit more flair.
According to a statement issued by Toyota, North American production is expected to reach full capacity by September.
At present, since the first week of June, eight of Toyota’s 12 North American plants are now running at 100 percent capacity and the progress so far means that it’s likely full production will resume quicker than originally thought.
Reflecting the somewhat buoyant mood at Toyota, Steve St. Angelo, executive vice president of Toyota Engineering and Manufacturing North America, said “our team members and suppliers here and in Japan have worked tirelessly to get us back to 100 percent, overcoming many challenges. The effort in Japan has been incredible, especially in the midst of such tragedy and devastation.”
He also stated that ” after September we will focus on making up lost production as much as possible.”
His sentiments were echoed by Bob Carter, group vice president and division general manger, Toyota Motor Sales USA.
“Thanks to the efforts [of our manufacturing team members], our dealers have a healthy supply of cars and trucks available to sell, with more arriving every day, along with competitive lease and APR programs for our customers.”
Seems like, after months of taking it on the chin amid recalls, quality issues, falling market share and production issues, Toyota; finally has something to celebrate.
When most people think Toyota and hybrid, the Prius naturally comes to mind. Indeed, Japan’s largest automaker has been capitalizing on the car’s brand equity, expanding the range to include the A/V wagon and plug-in variants.
But cars aren’t the only thing on Toyota’s mind when it comes to hybrids. In fact, for it’s next major thrust into the North American market, the company is literally thinking bigger when it comes to internal combustion/electric powered vehicles, in this case, commercial trucks.
In the last two decades, Japanese light and medium-duty trucks have made sizable inroads in the North American market and now Toyota, through it’s heavy truck division Hino, is hoping that it can add hybrids to the mix.
In Japan, Hino has developed a diesel/electric version of it’s light and middle weight Dutro cab-over-engine truck. Compared to it’s diesel only predecessor, the latest Dutro is said to boast an improvement in fuel economy by around 50 percent, making it particularly attractive for fleet customers, especially those that use trucks for local delivery work in urban areas.
Introducing a variant of the Dutro hybrid to North America is part of Hino’s goal to quadruple sales in our market, to approximately 140,000 units annually by 2015.
For US consumption, the Hino hybrid will be available in either 14,500 lb or heavier-duty 19,500 lb configurations (called 155h and 195h respectively) and will feature an Aisin six-speed automatic transmission. The battery system is reportedly the same as that used in the Lexus LS hybrid and the battery packs themselves will be sourced from Primearth Electric Vehicle Energy Co., another Toyota subsidiary.
Given the current cost of fuel prices and commercial truck operators looking to save fuel any way they can (look at all the trailer fairings appearing on large over-the-road rigs to help reduce wind resistance and improve mileage), the announcement of the Hino hybrid will no doubt be good news , especially as many Japanese commercial trucks currently offered in the US are largely employed as urban delivery vehicles, where frequent stop-start driving is the norm.
However, for those that aren’t quite ready to take the plunge, Hino has said it will offer conventional diesel versions of the truck alongside the hybrid models, with deliveries slated to begin in August.
[Source: Automotive News]
Still struggling in the wake of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, which severely disrupted production, Toyota Motor Co has said that it expects it’s full-year profit for 2011 to fall some 31 percent short of original projections.
Net income is expected to decline to some 280 billion yen ($3.5 billion) for the 12 month period ending in March, versus income of some 480 billion yen ($6 billion) for the same period a year earlier. Global vehicle sales are predicted to shrink to some 7.24 million units, versus 7.31 million last year. A strengthening yen is also eating into the company’s revenue.
Nevertheless, Toyota is trying to be optimistic about the future. In Tokyo today, the company’s Chief Financial Officer, Satoshi Ozawa, said “Toyota will do it’s best to recover from the delays in delivery.”
However, there still remain some significant obstacles on the way to recovery. The high value of the yen, almost reaching post World War II levels, is making Japanese industry less competitive against South Korean and European rivals; not helping matters is the fact that Toyota boasts a greater ratio of vehicle manufacturing in Japan than it’s main competitors such as Honda and Nissan.
[Source: Automotive News]
In what’s being billed as an industry first in the United Kingdom, Toyota‘s manufacturing plant in Derbyshire, England, where it builds European market Avensis models as well as the Auris and Auris hybrid, is having a large scale solar panel array installed, in an effort to generate energy while reducing the plant’s carbon footprint.
The solar array consists of some 17,000 individual panels on an area of land within the plant perimeter that covers some 90,000 square meters (roughly 968,752 square feet or the size of almost four and half soccer fields). The project will cost some £10 million (approximately $16.5 million) and will be installed and paid for by UK utility British Gas.
It is believed that once operational, the solar panel array will save up to 2000 metric tonnes of Co2 emissions and 4,600,000 kilowatts of energy on a yearly basis, while at the same time generating enough to cover the production of 7,000 cars per year.
The project has already been started and it’s expected that the array will begin supplying power to the plant sometime next month.
They’ve been problematic ever since the Feds mandated them back in 2007. Now, the Toyota Tundra is the latest to join the list for Tire Pressure Monitoring System woes.
A recall has been issued for a number of 2007-11 model year Tundras because they may have incorrectly calibrated TPMS systems, preventing warning lights from operating when tire pressures are low. Around 1,697 trucks are affected, all of which were originally sold in the South Eastern United States.
Owners of the affected trucks will be notified by Toyota and dealers will fix the problem free of charge.
It’s almost a perfect storm. The aftermath of the deadly earthquake in Japan, combined with a dramatic increase in oil prices fueled by the ongoing crisis in Libya and the reduction in domestic stockpiles is pushing up the price of new automobiles in a manner not seen in years.
Already Toyota, Ford and GM have announced price increases for their vehicles, with others set to follow suit. But an interesting trend is the price of small cars. Compared with a year ago, the average price for these vehicles has increased by some 4.2 percent, in the subcompact segment it’s even more – 6.3 percent – according to website TrueCar.com.
Although, given the global nature of the auto business today, companies across the world are facing disruptions, those that are most affected remain Japanese brands. So far, Nippon based companies have delayed the introduction of some 500,000 vehicles because of supply issues resulting from last month’s quake and one industry analyst predicts that amount will grow to some 3.6 million vehicles worldwide by August.
However, this current set of circumstances might provide an opportunity, particularly for Detroit car makers, who’ve been struggling in recent years. In particular, demand for such models as the Ford Fiesta and Chevrolet Cruze, both of which have been well received, could result in some buyers shifting their allegiance from Japanese brands, which have dominated the market for small cars for so long. The situation is likely to exacerbated by the fact that some models, particularly those imported from Japan such as the Toyota Prius, are currently in short supply, a scenario that isn’t likely to change anytime soon.
Nevertheless, although many automakers are rethinking their supply chains as a result of the issues in Japan, it’s unlikely there will be a major realignment in the way parts distribution and production are configured, at least in the short term.
However, given the current economic environment, the auto sector is becoming less of a buyer’s market by the day, particularly for small cars. As a result those consumers in the market for a new vehicle, are likely better off to take the plunge now, while there’s still good deals to be had, rather than sitting on the fence and waiting.
[Source: Detroit Free Press]
Originally intended primarily for the U.S. market, when it was launched for the 1990 model year, Lexus has since grown to become a world wide brand, but it’s the global aspect that’s causing headaches for parent company Toyota.
According to Karl Schlicht, general manager of Global Lexus marketing and product planning, “it’s very simple when you’ve got one market,” but “you have multiple regions now – like Europe wanting one direction, Japan another and China coming on, that gets complicated.”
Schlicht’s solution to this problem is what he sees as a type of progressive luxury, where social responsibility counts just as much as power and exclusivity, factors that can likely help the brand connect with a greater number of buyers in different parts of the world. To that end, future Lexus models will adopt more expressive styling, greater use of hybrid driveline technologies and onboard telematics.
In addition, Lexus will broaden the range of sport packages, offering them on the RX and new entry-level CT models as well as the IS sedan. These sport packages will incorporate different suspension and chassis tuning and where applicable, more performance oriented driveline features.
Also in the works is a new coupe, to replace the previous SC, along with some new SUVs, but while those are some of the things we can expect down the road, in the meantime and particularly here in the U.S., Lexus has it’s eye on the number 1 luxury sales spot again for 2011, though Schlicht says that moving forward, they’ll be less of an emphasis on the heavy incentives to move metal off the lots, though so far, it’s been these very incentives that have enabled the brand to hold onto that coveted market position, ahead of BMW.
[Source: Automotive News]