Toyota Motor Co., the world’s largest automaker, has been producing cars for more than 70 years. It wasn’t until after World War II, however, that production started to pick up. Toyota went from making 8,500 cars a year in 1955 to 600,000 in 1965. Models like the Toyopet and Land Cruiser hit the United States in 1957. Today Toyota is among the leaders when it comes to hybrid technology.
Back in the early 90′s, most non-enthusiasts with who admired certain small cars as long-term transportation modules would wind up at a Toyota or Honda dealer. Civic, Corolla, Camry, Accord. The majority of these blase buyers would price out their Toyonda car with nary a fleeting glance toward the Nissan side of the world.
Those early-90′s Sentras may have eventually yielded a bulletproof powertrain for the developing world and a wonderful SE-R model as well. But nobody cared back then. The Stanza? Still stuck in the 80′s school of design with a 90′s price tag.
Nissan was the least loved child of the Japanese Big 3 among those who least loved cars in general. But then the market slowly changed.
NHTSA is proposing to make it mandatory that hybrid cars and EVs have the ability to emit a sound when traveling below 18 mph on electric power, as a means of warning pedestrians and cyclists. The system is said to add about $30 to the cost of each vehicle, and will no doubt tie up bureaucrats for months as they debate just what kind of tone will best protect the public from the horror of low-speed injuries. So why don’t we make life easier for them and decide ourselves?
The top 5 vehicles were either Toyotas or Ford trucks, with a 2005 Toyota RAV4 that had galloped 425,904 miles skating right past a 2003 Ford E250 with 413,579. Eight of the top ten were either the usual Ford/Chevy/Toyota truck, or a Honda/Toyota car. Only a solitary Vulcan V6 Ford car and a Nissan Maxima interrupted the usual domination. Both of those models I’m thinking about adding to the list just because they are frequent enough to merit that distinction along with Sajeev’s beloved Panthers.
But then again, I did have one big surprise. Anyone remember the Mercury Capri?
Sales of Japanese car in the world’s largest car market, China, continue to be impacted by the war of words (and occasionally sledge hammers) over uninhabited rocks in the East China sea. Sales are inching up a bit after customers dare to come back to the showrooms of Japanese brands. Read More >
The Japanese new car market ended the year 2012 up 27.5 percent to 5,369,721 units. You may read other numbers elsewhere, but that’s because it is often overlooked that regular vehicles and mini vehicles are reported separately in Japan. At TTAC, we consolidate them as a service to our readers. Read More >
The introduction of the C7 Corvette is almost certainly the biggest splash expected at this year’s Detroit show. It will almost certainly be a good car; no surprise there, the Corvette has been a pretty good car for nearly its entire production run. By common agreement, there are two “dark period” in the model’s history. The original “Blue Flame Six” cars were priced above the Jaguars of the era and couldn’t come close to catching them on a track or open road. It took the why-didn’t-they-think-of-that addition of Chevy’s then-new small-block V-8 to make the ‘Vette a legend. Corvette fanciers are also eager to forget the later “C3″ cars, which were awfully heavy, rather indifferently assembled, and frequently found sporting “PRNDL” markings. The nadir was probably the 1980 California Corvette, which offered buyers a mandatory encounter with the much-despised 305-cubic-inch V-8 and automatic transmission.
When they aren’t ruthlessly dissing their own stuff, GM marketing and advertising people almost universally react to the arrival of disastrous products by placing said products into ads with classic cars — anybody remember those Cadillac ads which juxtaposed the great old Caddys with a Zep tune and the rather sterile early-2000s lineup? The above effort isn’t a surprise, then… but how accurate is it?
Like their products or not, Ford has been on a roll. It all started when the blue oval financed their metamorphosis by mortgaging everything that wasn’t nailed down a year before the bankocalypse. Next came a wave of new products like the Astonesque Fusion, Prius fighting C-MAX and the Euro-derived Fiesta and Focus. Ford’s recovery plan hinges on unifying their worldwide lineup rather than making unique vehicles for every market. Ford calls this plan “One Ford,” while I call it “Ford’s Euro love affair.” The latest warrior in the Euro invasion is none other than the Ford Kuga, you’ll know it as the new Escape. It would appear Ford’s timing couldn’t be better since they just lost the small-SUV sales crown to Honda. Can the European soft-roader take back the crown? Or has Ford gone too far by ditching the boxy Escape for world-wide homogeny?
My brother Tom’s Prius has been suffering neglect: a scraped door here, a tear in the bumper there, and my heavens, enough dirt to coat all the government buildings in the Washington DC metro area, where Tom lives and works, and pretty soon a two year old Prius is looking like a common beater. He has no plans to fix all this ugliness, but if there’s a logical, cost-benefit case to be made, he will definitely be swayed, as will his wife. Read More >
When the 2013 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) opens its doors in Las Vegas, Nev, on January 8, there will be a few cars on display. And not just to show off entertainment systems. At least two carmakers will demonstrate self-driving cars: Toyota and Audi. Read More >
“Everybody uses the road and if some pay and some don’t then that’s an unfair situation that’s got to be resolved,” said Jim Whitty, manager of the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Office of Innovative Partnerships and Alternative Funding.
Ah, yes. As with any number of current governmental activities, the rationale for per-mile taxation will be fairness.
“Detroit’s automakers showed December U.S. sales gains of 5 percent, slightly better than analysts’ expectations,” says Reuters, “but likely not enough to stave off market-share gains by Japanese rivals.”
GM reports “the company’s highest December sales in five years,” with deliveries up 5 percent to 245,733 vehicles. For the year, GM’s U.S. sales are up only marginally. They rose 3.7 percent to 2,595,717 units. In a market expected to be up around 14 percent, this will translate into a serious drop of market share. Read More >
Although the TWATs are still going strong, it’s nice to take a break every now and then and appreciate the cars that manage to excel in an era of homogenous designs and an overarching emphasis on efficiency and profitability. An informal poll of TTAC editors revealed a wide range of opinions on what the most enjoyable drive of 2012 was. And since some didn’t submit their nominations on time, you, the readers, can leave your own suggestions below.