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.
We’ve seen a lot of strange things come out of Japan’s aftermarket over the years, but this might be the most ridiculous thing yet. Relax Cabin, a Japanese aftermarket company, specializes in camper conversions and apparently thought Toyota Prius owners would have a demand for such a thing.
We guess there’s a remote possibility that someone that owns a Prius would be interested in something like this, but given that the conversion adds over 20-inches to the length of the car and 22-inches to the height, we’re guessing all aerodynamic tweaks Toyota made to make the Prius as fuel efficient as possible has gone out the window. The massive structure is made from reinforced plastic, and we reckon that it isn’t light, further killing the mpg the Prius is made for.
But those that are interested in giving their Prius a whole new world of versatility also has some options available to them. The Prius’s back seats can drop down to make enough space for a double bed while the top compartment can also house another double bed. If that wasn’t enough, you can add a retractable coffee table or side sofa to your Prius camper van.
We never thought those three words would be used legitimately in the same sentence. Prius. Camper. Van. Sigh.
GALLERY: Relax Cabin Toyota Prius Camper Van
GALLERY: Relax Cabin Toyota Prius Tokyo Auto Salon 2012
Google’s mission towards to mass market autonomous vehicles took another step forward this week when they were granted a patent for a method of controlling the self-driving car. The patent details how the vehicle can transition from being human-driven to autonomous mode.
The technology raises an interesting thought, where the car could transition to autonomous mode on a section of road that’s dedicated to self-driving cars. Obviously we’re quite a ways out from having all of our roads populated with autonomous vehicles, but by being able to recognize a bar code or a radio tag, a vehicle could switch modes safely – especially knowing that all the vehicles around it are using the same technology.
While a lot of people are skeptical as to why Google is even pursuing this endeavor, we believe in the sake of pushing technology forward, Google is doing everyone a favor. Google of course stands by their desire to ”help prevent traffic accidents, free up people’s time, and reduce carbon emissions by fundamentally changing car use.”
Even cooler is the fact that the patent outlines how a vehicle could receive instructions from an Internet address over a wireless network. This could be pretty scary in the wrong hands, that’s for sure. We’re still waiting for the day that our Toyota Prius drives itself to a nearby McDonald’s while telling us the specials that it has for that day. Talk about the possibility of intrusive advertising.
Out in Germany, a new vehicle must be inspected after three years by the TÜV, similar to America’s state-level emissions and inspection process (albeit much more rigorous). After that, residents of Germany then have to get their vehicles inspected every two years and each visit involves an extremely thorough inspection of your vehicle.
Failing the inspection means you have to get it fixed immediately. Fail it again and you won’t receive an inspection sticker and your vehicle will not be permitted to be driven on the road. So with all these vehicles coming in and out for inspections every year, there’s got to be a ton of good ‘ol data waiting to be reported right? Of course, it’s called the TÜV-Report and it won’t be published until December 16th. But of course we have the Internet and those dates mean nothin’ to us!
Between July 2010 and June 2011 an overwhelming 7,779,312 cars were inspected and The Truth About Cars decided to publish the results from all the new cars that got their first inspection after three years, and the results from 10-11 year old cars. At the top of the new car list was Toyota‘s Prius with 1.9-percent complaints, while tied for second place was Toyota’s Auris and Mazda‘s 2. Tied for fourth (and really just rounding out the top five) was Porsche‘s Boxster/Cayman and VW‘s Golf Plus. And at the very bottom of the new car list? Say hello to Dacia’s Logan. This is the second time in a row the Prius has taken the top spot.
Now for the 10-11 year old cars, Porsche’s 911 took the top spot while Toyota’s Rav4, Yaris, and Avensis came in second, third and fourth respectively. Rounding off the top five was Mazda’s MX-5. It’s not a huge surprise that Porsche’s older cars stay on top of the list, with Germans treating them with pristine care and service. The 911 also topped the 6-7 year old bracket and the 8-9 year old bracket. And at the bottom of that list? Ford‘s Ka takes those honors with an astonishingly high 38.9-percent complaint rate. That means more than one out of three Kas leave the inspection without a decal – yikes.
[Source: The Truth About Cars]
Toyota is looking to ride their successful Prius wave to the future, hoping to revive its US sales that has taken a hit thanks to heavy recalls and the tragic earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan. With two new Prius models on the horizon, Toyota also announced they’ll be entering new market segments with hybrids, including big pickups.
Reports are coming in that Toyota could double the number of hybrids sold in North America to 400,000 by 2015 and could help shift hybrid production to America, helping fight against the rising yen. More interesting is that Toyota expects to finish a prototype hybrid pickup system sometime next year that they’re currently working on with Ford.
Toyota also expects the Prius hybrid family to surpass the Camry in the second half of this decade as Toyota’s top-selling nameplate. Ultimately however, their goal is to hit 1.2-million units in annual hybrid sales by 2015, almost double from the 690,000 last year. They’ll also be looking towards expanding their current models to offer hybrid variants while continuing to shift from nickel-metal hydride to lithium ion batteries in their hybrids.
[Source: Automotive News]
Subaru‘s BRZ GT300 race car is looking fabulous on the track, but we couldn’t help but wonder where Toyota‘s GT 86 race car was at the Tokyo Motor Show. Apparently nowhere, maybe not even on the minds of Toyota engineers responsible for their GT300 race car.
Rather than usher in a new era of racing with their GT 86 sports coupe, Toyota has decided to go a different route, with their Prius hybrid. Yes, you read that right, Toyota is opting to market their Prius in the Super GT racing series rather than their new GT 86, and we have to admit it’s a pretty interesting choice.
We’re more interested to see what powerplant and drivetrain will end up underneath the hood in order to compete with the other 300-hp vehicles in the GT300 class.
The rendering comes courtesy of Auto Sport Magazine and appears to be what Toyota is preparing for the 2012 Super GT season. Also according to the publication, Team APR will be responsible for building the Prius race car, the same team that entered a pair of Corolla Axio GT race cars this year.
[Source: Jon Sibal]
An bizarre accident over the weekend in Japan severely damaged 14 cars, eight of which were Ferraris. The other vehicles involved in the smash-up include three Mercedes-Benzes, a Lamborghini, a Nissan Skyline and a poor little Toyota Prius. According to the news report, a caravan of foreign car enthusiasts were heading from Hiroshima to Kyushu when one of the Ferrari drivers hit the median while trying to overtake a car on the wet, curved road.
Fortunately no one was seriously hurt in the crash, but it’s a sad sight to see all these exotics demolished the way they are. From what we can tell in the video, there were multiple F355s, F430s, an F360 and some form of an F512. Even worse, the accident shut down the road for six long hours as officials tried to determine exactly what happened.
Check out the news report from Japan below:
The head of Toyota‘s Prius program thinks that Toyota will be able to sell as many as 1 million hybrids anually by 2015. Satoshi Ogiso, who was responsible for developing the original Prius, said that hybrids could sell as many as 2 million units by 2020.
Toyota Hybrid sales topped out at 690,000 in 2010, and many felt that if it weren’t for March’s earthquake and tsunami, the pace of sales would have accelerated even further. Prius sales (including the Prius c, Prius V and other variants) will account for half of hybrid sales.
Ogiso said that model line-up expansion would be kept under control for the Prius, but some expansion may occur. A sports car model was also hinted at, but appears to be some ways off.
[Source: Automotive News]
Toyota is banking on its plug-in Prius hybrid and other new models to help bring their sales numbers back to pre-2008 status, where Toyota had no trouble grabbing the global sales crown each year. Currently Toyota is poised to lose that trophy to General Motors, undoubtedly due to the earthquake in March in Japan and the floods in Thailand hampering production.
But Toyota has a bright future ahead of them with their abundance of gasoline-electric vehicles on the horizon. There’s no doubt the Prius has enjoyed immense success worldwide and the Prius PHV hybrid will be introduced to the Japanese market on January 30th, with a starting price around $41,000. Toyota is aiming to sell 35,000 to 40,000 plug-in Priuses a year in Japan alone.
The new Prius PHV has a cruising range of 16.4-miles on its lithium-ion battery and can be charged using a household electricity outlet. Toyota hopes that the PHV will be able to compete with the electric car market while enticing consumers that are hesitant to buy an all-electric car.
[Source: Automotive News]
10. 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid LE: 43/39 MPG
The Top 10 Most Fuel Efficient cars have been named for 2012 by the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA (those guys that come up with the official ratings for cars) has compiled the list, which is dominated by Japanese automakers. Those remaining two are domestic vehicles, although with one being a commercial van, it almost should count. On the list are electric and hybrid vehicles only, with no diesels or pure gasoline engines.
In 10th spot is the first of three Toyota models and the first of four if you count the larger Toyota company and Lexus. The Toyota Camry Hybrid LE is officially rated at 43 mpg city and 39 mpg highway. With a combined rating of 41-mpg, it’s the only true mid-size sedan to achieve an average of 40-mpg or better. And these numbers don’t come at the expense of performance either, with 200-hp on tap. Of note, XLE models, which have more content and are heavier, are rated at 40 mpg city and 38 mpg highway.
Toyota will add another vehicle to the Prius lineup shortly, with the upcoming Prius c subcompact. Intended to be the entry point into the Prius range, the Prius c will supposedly get over 50 mpg in the city.
Technology will also be at the forefront of the Prius c, which comes with an integrated app suite for use with websites like Bing, MovieTickets.com, Pandora and OpenTable, along with Bluetooth integration and a host of safety features.
Expect the Prius c to be about the size of a Toyota Yaris, but positioned as a more premium product. Performance details have not been announced, aside from the obvious use of Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive hybrid system mated to a 1.5L 4-cylinder engine. The Prius c will get its official unveiling at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show in January.
Gallery: Toyota Prius c
Toyota‘s leadership in the hybrid car category has reflected extremely highly on its perception as a “green” automaker. And for good reason, with two-thirds of all hybrids currently on the road being Toyota brand products. Much of that success can be given to the Prius, with more models sold than all other hybrids combined, totaling 52 percent of all registered hybrids.
The numbers grow further in Toyota’s favor if you take into account all Toyota brand vehicles. Adding in Lexus sales, Toyota Group models makes up 73 percent of all registered hybrids.
Next to Toyota’s 66.4 percent share of the hybrid market, Honda ranks a distant second with 15.7 percent. Totaling 288,906 units, much of Honda’s success has been with its Civic Hybrid with just shy of 200,000 units sold.
Broken down by brand, Lexus ranks third with 6.4 percent of the market, although if you include those vehicles in the larger Toyota number, then Ford comes in third with 6.3 percent.
According to data compiled by Polk Automotive, at the bottom of the list are Kia, with just one registered hybrid, Hyundai with four and Infiniti with 12. (Note: the data is as of April 2011 and since then these three automakers have all begun selling hybrids in more significant volumes).
With Toyota’s hybrid sales comprised of just the Prius, Camry Hybrid and Highlander Hybrid the Big T is looking to continue stay on top in the hybrid segment, launching the Prius v this year and Prius Plug-in Hybrid next year, followed by the Prius c. An all-new Camry Hybrid is also expected to double Toyota’s annual sales volumes in that segment.
Toyota is also on the verge of a milestone in the U.S. market with 959,794 Prius models currently registered.
GALLERY: 2012 Prius Plug-in Hybrid
Hit the jump for a full breakdown of hybrid model sales Continue Reading…
Although our German isn’t too great, Auto Motor und Sport, the automotive publication of record in Germany, is reporting that the Hyundai i30, also known as the Elantra Touring, will get a plug-in hybrid version in 2013.
Hyundai has hinted at a competitor to the Toyota Prius before, and the i30, designed with the ultra-competitive European market in mind, is a stylish product that attracted attention from Volkswagen’s CEO at a recent car show due to its outstanding build quality. Such a product would be a great platform for a plug-in hybrid, which would serve as a halo for Hyundai’s “green” image.
Although Hyundai has previously stressed that hybrids and electric cars wouldn’t play a major part in its portfolio, hybrids are an undeniable image booster and plug-in hybrids are exempt from congestion charges in major urban centers like London. With this in mind, Hyundai would be wise to bring a product like an i30 plug-in to market, and hopefully the Korean company will decide to bring it to North America as well.
[Source: Auto Motor und Sport]
Toyota‘s new styling chief, Dezi Nagaya, wants to abandon the company’s previous conservative design language for a new direction that is “…more dynamic, more masculine, sportier, with a more obvious design theme and a face to represent the company and the brand.”
Nagaya’s challenge comes with creating a unified styling language that can span everything from the Land Cruiser to the Camry to the upcoming Scion FR-S, which will be sold as the Toyota FT-86 in Japan. Nagaya said that Toyota will adjust how aggressive their vehicles look, with volume models sticking to a relatively conservative direction while models like the FT-86 would be much more exciting.
Nagaya was previous responsible for the second generation Toyota Prius and the Lexus L-Finesse design language.
[Source: Automotive News]
There’s a huge list of reasons why anyone would want to buy a Toyota Prius these days. But despite its decent cargo space once the rear seats are folded down, the Prius has its limitations when it comes to really transporting anything of significance.
So clearly the owner of this Prius loved the fuel economy but also needed the ability to haul stuff around. Their solution? Simple. They transformed their second generation Prius to a pickup truck… in a scary fashion.
This abomination was spotted in North Carolina and clearly the photos speak a thousand words: the fabrication work to transform the Prius to a pickup isn’t very good. At least there’s a bed destined to carry great things that no other Prius ever will. Oh wait… maybe they should have just waited for the Prius v.
It’s a scary thought for many, the idea that a car will one day most probably drive itself. We’ve already seen the proliferation of driver aids in the last 20 odd years, from anti-lock brakes, to stability control and more recently, features such as adaptive cruise control and collision avoidance systems.
As a result, the idea of a driverless car has become closer to reality with each passing day. To find out just how nervous motorists might be at the thought of an autonomous vehicle, the US Department of Transportation has decided to conduct a little experiment, outfitting a number of cars with equipment which allows them to talk to teach other. It will then take the vehicles to the test track and simulate tsituations such as potential accident situations, including head on collisions.
The DOT wants to judge drivers reactions when the vehicles intervene and take control. Automakers participating in the US program include Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Toyota and Volkswagen.
In other parts of the world similar tests are planned, including driveless cars taking to the streets in Germany and on the race track in Belgium. Ladies and Gentlemen, it appears the age of ‘real’ Big Brother motoring may soon be upon us.
[Source: Automotive News]
Toyota’s Prius plug-in hybrid has been testing in London, all the better to usurp the Continent’s diesels in favor of its “27% better” electric cord.
What does this “27% better” get you? Well, Toyota says, the Prius plug-in takes 27% less fuel than a diesel after a full charge, which takes around 72 minutes. As a city car, the Prius excels in small, slow journeys: the tests in London show that the average journey has been 7.3 miles at around 17 miles per hour. In electric-only mode, the Prius plug-in can drive 12.5 miles, but that hasn’t dissuaded owners from pushing the official limit—22% of drivers went beyond this figure, all the way up to 62mph.
The Prius plug-in will officially launch in Europe early next year. The tests are expected to take three years, and so far they’ve only started last summer. With regular recharging points, Toyota hopes, the Prius plug-in could be a viable alternative to diesels. We’ll see about that, as long as there aren’t any road trips to John O’Groats.
Well this is a change. The typical NBA all star usually drives around in a Cadillac Escalade or Mercedes-Benz S-Class, but not Steve Nash. No no, this Pheonix Suns point guard, seven-time NBA All-Star, two-time MVP award winner represents the Toyota Prius. In this new commercial, based on the competitive nature of both Nash and Toytota, the all new Prius comes out on top, or maybe dancing does. Nash’s competitve edge show him push the Prius to beat an old lady into a parking sport. The victory dance is hilarious.
Check out Nash celebrate his victory dance after the jump!
Sales of the Prius in 2011 are expected to surpass even the number sold in 2010 says Toyota, despite the disastrous earthquake in Japan that limited production of the popular hybrid.
Toyota has been shifting all its resources to ensure production of its hybrid model is top priority after hitting a 61-percent drop in June of Prius deliveries – the lowest since September 2004. Prior to the earthquake, Toyota anticipated sales of the Prius to leap their record 2007 year of 181,221; though that may be out of reach now, Toyota is confident they’ll surpass the 2010 sales figure of 140,928.
Currently, demand is greater than supply of the Prius, with many dealerships in America having a waiting list of customers. With the average fuel cost going up, demand for hybrid models has also been going up.
More importantly for 2012 and beyond, Toyota will be expanding the Prius line with the addition of the Prius v wagon, subcompact Prius c and the electric plug-in Prius, potentially making it their number-one selling model line within the next decade.
[Source: Automotive News]
America’s ongoing insatiable desire for the Toyota Prius is about to be sated: the Japanese factory is sending 36,000 examples our way, just in time for summer.
Global availability of the Prius is still low. Currently, the Prius is at a 4-day supply in America and many dealers don’t have a single example on their lots: a check of nationwide inventory reveals that there are only 2,960 models, or a 10th of where they were last year before the March 11 earthquake.
“Demand for the vehicle remains very, very high, and we are doing all we can to meet that demand,” said Steve Curtis, a Toyota spokesman. “Availability is going to vary from region to region and dealer to dealer, but I can certainly tell you that it’s tight.”
Toyota hopes production and supply of the Prius will return to normal by September. These 36,000 examples will go a long way to fulfilling demand until then.
[Source: Auto Observer]
With Ford planning to blitz the auto-market in the first quarter of 2012 with its eight new models, the American automaker hopes the Fusion will make a major impact with its next-gen sophisticated hybrid system.
According to a source inside Ford the Blue Oval is targeting a 47-48-mpg rating for the car in the city, with an even higher rating for the highway. Currently the Fusion gets a 41-mpg rating in the city, making for a significant increase.
Closing in on the 50-mpg mark, the Fusion Hybrid would then be encroaching on the 50-mpg average Toyota Prius.
Toyota has announced a recall on 52,000 2001-2003 Prius’ as well as a handful of Venza and Sienna vehicles.
The recall is regarding the possibility of nuts securing the pinion shaft for the steering box assembly. These nuts may become loose from repeated full-lock turning of the steering wheel. Toyota says that over time, the driver may notice an increased amount of effort required to turn left.
To fix this issue, Toyota will install four “new and improved” nuts, taking four hours to complete.
The 2011 Venza and Sienna recall is only affecting AWD models. Only 34 Venza’s and 16 Sienna’s were recalled for faulty front right-hand driveshaft issues. The Japanese automaker said the driveshafts were not properly heat-treated and will need to be replaced as there is a possibility they may break. If it does break, the vehicle will coast to a stop.
Toyota will notify the owners of these vehicles starting tomorrow via certified mail.
Toyota has announced a recall on its first generation Prius models for an issue with the power steering system. The recall affects 52,000 Prius vehicles from the 2001 to 2003 model year sold in the U.S. In total 106,000 Prius models are included in the safety bulletin globally.
According to a statement released by Toyota, the car is being recalled to replace several nuts that hold the steering pinion shaft in place, as the original nuts could become loose over time making turning left significantly harder.
Owners will be notified in early July and the repair work will be done free of charge. Those with questions or concerns can contact the Toyota Customer Experience Center at 1-800-331-4331 or www.toyota.com/recall.
In addition, Toyota has announced an additional recall affecting just 34 Venza and 16 Sienna AWD models from the 2011 model year to replace the front right-hand driveshaft.
The most popular mid-size sedan in the North American market is the Toyota Camry, and later this year we should see an all-new model.
The seventh generation model is set to debut this fall, as indicated by Toyota’s vice-president and general manager Bob Carter.
Toyota sold 327,804 Camry’s last year, and while that would be a huge and successful number for any automaker, it was in fact the lowest tally in Camry’s history since 1994. The current model had been in the market since March 2006.
No details have been given about the new Camry, but expect more of the same with some new clothing. It’s not yet clear if Toyota plans to continue to offer a V6 model, or switch to 4-cylinders only, like Hyundai has done with the new Sonata and Chevy is planning with the Malibu. A new Camry Hybrid will certainly be a part of the model mix.
[Source: Wards Auto]
Hyundai will apparently launch a competitor to the Toyota Prius in 2013, but the new hybrid Hyundai will be a plug-in hybrid vehicle from the get-go, unlike its Japanese rival, which is slowly rolling out its own plug-in variant.
While the news came from an anonymous source within Hyundai, the Korean automaker is making a strong push in the hybrid segment, as rising gas prices and the launch of the Sonata Hybrid sedan have put Hyundai in an excellent position. Hyundai is also buoyed by Toyota’s hamstrung hybrid lineup, which has seen production difficulties due to Japan’s March 11th earthquake. Hyundai is projecting annual sales of 18,000 units for the Sonata Hybrid in South Korea.