The Truth About Cars » Toyota http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 18 Apr 2014 14:00:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Toyota http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com At Toyota, Craftsmen Get Hands-On In Search Of Innovation http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/at-toyota-craftsmen-get-hands-on-in-search-of-innovation/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/at-toyota-craftsmen-get-hands-on-in-search-of-innovation/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 12:17:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=801290 Toyota factory near hard-hit Sendai. Picture courtesy cbsnews.com

Twenty years ago, as a young Merchant Mariner, I was sent to Japan where the ship I was assigned to, the Sea-Land Spirit, was undergoing a major refit. The ship had begun life as a LASH ship, a vessel that carried cargo-filled barges which it offloaded from its stern via huge, rail mounted cranes that ran on tracks down the length of its deck, and now, after the demise of that business model, it was being converted it into a container ship.

Prior to the refit, the ship had been virtually abandoned, left to rot in some bayside backwater for many years, and it had taken a pounding from the elements. To get it back into service, the ship was towed to Korea where it underwent most of the major modifications, after which it was then taken to the giant Mitsubishi works in Kobe, Japan for the final touches. It was there, so I was told, that Japanese laborers called into question the quality of the Korean’s work. Some of the massive steel braces that had been welded to the deck, they found, were as much as a centimeter off. Shocked by the poor quality of their counterparts’ work, the Japanese shipyard workers cut the braces off the deck, moved them a fraction of an inch and welded them down again.

Photo courtesy of cdn2.shipspotting.com

Photo courtesy of cdn2.shipspotting.com

The Japanese have a reputation for doing things right. Who else could take an iron ore of questionable quality and forge it into blades renowned for their strength, flexibility and sharpness? Who, but the Japanese, could take a pasty skinned, round face little girl and turn her into an object of enduring sexual desire? All cultures make things, but it is only in Japan that the making of things, “monozukuri” is elevated into an art unto itself, and where skilled craftsmen, who spend their entire lives honing their craft to perfection, become “gods.”

In recent years, however, thanks to the amount of production that has been handed over to robots, the number of “gods” on the factory floor has dwindled. Toyota, in particular, has noticed the problem and, according to a recent Bloomberg article, the company if now taking steps to reverse what it sees as a new form of brain drain by taking jobs away from robots and giving them back to men. The logic is slyly simple but infinitely deep, craftsmen, it goes, will always look for ways to innovate, always seek out easier more efficient methods and even find ways to reduce waste while robots can only do what they are programmed to do.

robots.jpg

Over the past three years, the article continues, Toyota has introduced more than 100 “manual-intensive” workplaces at factories all around Japan. In one of the sections, men manually turn and hammer red hot steel as it is forged into crankshafts in much the same way that Henry Ford’s workers once did. True to form, the men in the section have been watching and learning and the result of their efforts has been a 10 percent reduction in material waste and a shortening of the production line that will soon be applied to the automated processes used to make crankshafts in the next generation Prius Hybrid.

There is no doubt that the robots are here to stay, but Toyota’s recent experiments show that keeping humans closely engaged in the process can pay real dividends. By empowering workers and encouraging them to become skilled craftsmen who truly understand what it takes to build cars, Toyota is setting the stage for innovation. It is, I think, a uniquely Japanese solution but it could be applied here in North America as well. Despite the many people who decry the lack of skills and poor work ethic of the North American factory worker, I believe that there are a great many men and women in our factories who would jump at the chance to work harder. Everyone, I think, wants to be valued and most people want to make a difference. This could work here too, maybe some of our own best and brightest should take a look at what’s going on.

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Vellum Venom Vignette: 2015 Camry Regression Analysis http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/vellum-venom-vignette-2015-camry-regression-analysis/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/vellum-venom-vignette-2015-camry-regression-analysis/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:39:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=800242 051-2015-toyota-camry-1

As expected, TTAC’s Best and Brightest called it: the 2015 Camry has Chernobyl-grade DLO FAIL.

Or maybe that’s heavily tinted glass?

I consider myself lucky I’m not attending the NYIAS, this would make my head go explodey all over the show floor.

No transportation designer, wannabe like me or otherwise, wants to see that gigantizoid of a hunk of black plastic go into production.  The years of thankless hard work, the brutal cost of design school on your wallet/social life, etc shouldn’t turn into this.

There was nothing, absolutely nothing wrong with the 2014 Camry’s greenhouse: it was sleek-ish and a completely DLO FAIL free zone before the redesign.  It was a beautiful thing. And now it’s gone.

Thanks for reading, I hope you (can still) have a lovely week.

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New York 2014: 2015 Toyota Camry Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-toyota-camry-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-toyota-camry-revealed/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 14:27:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=799506 2015-Toyota-Camry-18

Toyota’s champion revealed its new look before the world and those in attendance at the 2014 New York Auto Show. Beneath the new Camry’s updated, more aggressive appearance, Toyota added spot welds throughout the chassis for added stiffness as well as a revised suspension, all of which is aimed at improving handling and ride quality.

The SE trim will continue going into the 2015 model year, paired alongside the premium XSE, while the hybrid will receive some of the SE’s performance goodies when all three enter showrooms later this year. The engine options will remain the same, however: 2.5-liter four-pot, 3.5-liter V6, and 2.5-liter Atkinson cycle hybrid motor.

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Toyota Looking To Conquer Africa http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/toyota-looking-to-conquer-africa/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/toyota-looking-to-conquer-africa/#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 11:58:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=798514 Toyota Land Cruiser 79 Bakkie

Though Toyota already has a presence in South Africa, the automaker is eyeing the last untapped market in the world: The African continent.

Automotive News reports Toyota patriarch Shochiro Toyoda gave his son, current president Akio Toyoda, a mission last year to explore markets outside of the “Asia-Europe-America” sphere, especially those where the younger Toyoda had not visited. His travels took him to a knockdown factory in Kenya, where there are 40 cars per 1,000 people according to IHS Automotive, laying the early groundwork for an all-out campaign to get as much of the final frontier as possible.

Success in the market may have to come in the long term, however; IHS predicts GDP per capita in Sub-Saharan Africa won’t reach the threshold of $3,000, as well as the ownership rate of 70 units per 1,000 people, until 2030 at the earliest. Toyota Africa CEO Johan van Zyl, who is scouting for new factory locations outside of South Africa, knows this reality well:

It’s a growing market, a market with a future. We have quite an ambitious [annual sales] target. But we must also understand, this is not going to happen overnight. We have to put the right things in place. And that is what we are busy doing, to ensure that we have the right foundation for the business in the future in Africa.

In the meantime, the automaker will launch the Quest compact in South Africa next month. The Quest — based upon the previous-gen Corolla — will help boost production towards full capacity at Toyota’s Durban plant; while max capacity is 220,000 annually, current production is 160,000 units per year. Unlike many auto makers, Toyota is not pursuing a new brand or platform for their new, low-cost car.

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QOTD: Special Feature, Special Weakness http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/qotd-special-feature-special-weakness/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/qotd-special-feature-special-weakness/#comments Mon, 14 Apr 2014 04:04:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=797274 IMG_0244.JPG - Copy

On a busy freeway, a first-generation Scion xB putters along. Ahead, a confused medley of dump trucks, semis, and passenger cars performs the lane-change dance that we all know and loathe. For the driver and passenger of the toaster, things are about to get interesting- and infuriating.

The dump trucks are fully laden, and there’s already plenty of junk on the road. The xB has a well-worn bug deflector, one which has spared the windshield from an unfortunate contact many times already. But this time, it won’t get the job done. Suddenly, a car darts across lanes in the traffic ahead. It picks up a rock, an asphalt clod, or some other piece of detritus. The missile arcs backward at the perfect angle. It misses the deflector by millimeters, hitting dead on right below the driver’s wiper. THWACK. Time to call the insurance company.

This isn’t the first time. The toaster is already on windshield number two, which itself has seen the business end of a resin gun. Half a dozen or so years prior, it took a stone right at the top, where the glass joins the roof. That time, the trauma wasn’t immediately apparent. However, a single cold, clear day later, the glass was split from top to bottom. The nice man from the glass shop told us that xBs were a great revenue stream for his company. Now he’ll be back to collect another check.

But oh, the glory of driving a fish tank. A virtually unobstructed view from any angle, the tiny blind spots totally confound the current zero-visibility trend in styling. When dad first bought it, I hated it. It was a dork’s car through and through. But when I got my license and my own ride, I began to appreciate its virtues. Those vast expanses of glass were fantastic for a young, nervous driver. They made it easy to watch the road, and to negotiate the tight spots. Dad appreciated it for much the same reason. At the time, no other car on the road offered the same level of visibility, unless it was a convertible. That’s even truer today. Perhaps that’s why he’s held on to it for longer than any other car he’s owned. Even if that fishbowl feeling comes at a price.

xB, Wrangler, FJ, van, and pickup drivers know all about the hazards inherent in steep windshields. Even so, they accept it as part of the costs of ownership. Many drivers tolerate possible headaches in maintenance and repair to get the special features they really want. A sunroof is a good example, as are convertible tops more generally. Heated and power seats don’t always last the life of a vehicle, but for many in northern climes they verge on necessity. Premium wheels can look great, even if they aren’t always resistant to potholes. Material quality and careful engineering can help special features last longer without requiring repairs. But some, like steeply raked windshields, can’t overcome the basic limitations of their design.

What weaknesses are you willing to tolerate in the design of your vehicle, to get exactly what you want? Or is durability your sole criteria? Have you ever been seduced by a trick feature that turned out to be an expensive source of woe later?

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Toyota Unveils New Duo Of Fuel-Efficient Engines http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/toyota-unveils-new-duo-of-fuel-efficient-engines/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/toyota-unveils-new-duo-of-fuel-efficient-engines/#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 10:30:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=793594 1.3L_gasoline_engine

Toyota has unveiled this week two new fuel-efficient gasoline engines that will serve as the basis for as many as 14 global powerplants by 2015, and boost economy by 10 percent.

Automotive News reports the two engines — 1.3-liter four-pot and 1-liter three-pot — are Atkinson cycle powerplants co-developed with partner Daihatsu, and feature fuel-efficiency goodies such as EGR, VVT and stop-start technology.

On the power front — especially since Atkinson cycle engines are more known for their efficiency than for destroying ‘Ring times — the Toyota engines will deliver high compression ratios of 13.5 for the larger engine, 11.5 for the smaller. In turn, thermal efficiency in the duo will hit a maximum of 38 percent and 37 percent, respectively.

As for where the duo and their children will reside, expect the home market to have the first crack via the automaker’s line of non-hybrid compacts before taking the global stage the following year in both non-hybrid and hybrid vehicles, as well as larger premium offerings.

1.3L_gasoline_engine 1.0L_gasoline_engine exhaust_pipe Tumble ]]>
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Hammer Time: Might As Well Go For A Soda http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/hammer-time-might-as-well-go-for-a-soda/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/hammer-time-might-as-well-go-for-a-soda/#comments Thu, 10 Apr 2014 14:56:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=793313 Click here to view the embedded video.

“Steve, what car should I buy?”

“Well, if I give you the real answer, you’ll roll your eyes and buy what you want anyway.”

“No really. I’m open to new ideas.”

“Okay then! Buy a 2012 Malibu. Buy a Buick Park Avenue. Buy a Dodge Raider or buy a Suzuki Equator.”

“Ummm… are you sure about that?”

“Hell no! Now go buy me a soda and buy yourself a Camry!”

A lot of enthusiasts give grief to the mainstream publications in this business. Sometimes I kinda don’t get why because to be brutally blunt, the “best car”  is usually firmly planted in the third row of most folk’s priorities when it comes to buying their next car.

For all the manufacturers desires to offer power, performance and utility together in one great vehicle, most of the general public just doesn’t care.

They usually want a brand first. Looks second. Then there’s fuel economy, safety, perceived quality… and a long, long list of excuses to get away from the less popular alternatives.

The best new car is rarely the best selling car in this business. There are Mazdas that I love which have a snowballs chance in hell of taking on the Toyotas and Chevys. Even if they do a far better job of checking off most consumer’s real world priorities, it’s a moot point and an inevitable outcome.

If Volvo came out with a breakthrough product, I seriously doubt that most shoppers of prestige brands would even remotely consider it. Never mind that there are plenty of reputable sources out there that can help dispel those myths as to which models now offer the best bang for the buck. Volvo no longer ranks in the pantheons of marketplace leaders. Case closed.

Even when mainstream publication have the gall to endorse an Oldsmobile or a Suzuki over a Camry or an Accord, the result of that neighborly advice is that people just won’t take it.

Why? People are brand loyal, and they are bias loyal.

Click here to view the embedded video.

That Ford station wagon that killed Aunt Edna’s dog 35 years ago?  Well, that just means Detroit cars are pure crap. Never mind that carsurvey, TrueDelta, and even the long-term reliability index I am co-developing have disproved a lot of those myths.

Cadillac can’t ever match a Mercedes. Mercedes isn’t as good as a Lexus. Lexus isn’t as good as a BMW. On and on through the merry go round of biases and BS until you can’t help but SAAB at the futility of recommending a great car at a steal of a price.

Kizashi! What? Exactly. It’s a great car if you play around with a stickshift version. You say you’re an enthusiast… but then when I recommend a stick version, you look at me like I’m from Mars.

The truth is that enthusiast cars don’t sell. The best cars for pure driving enjoyment, don’t sell. The Miata has been shucked in the low 10k range of annual sales for a long time now. Mustangs? An ungodly sales decline. There are some who blame these types of things on demographics or the police state. But I have a third theory.

American tastes increasingly resemble the American interstate. There is a sameness and sadness to the menu which is dictating that the best cars are psychologically unaccessible. Nobody wants to get off the straight and dull road that leads to the Camcrods, the Cor-antr-ics and the American badged truck.

Are all those models good? Well, yeah. But good seldom equals love. You want love? Go tear down a bias and rediscover why a great car is worthy buying.

Don’t forget the radar detector.

P.S. :  Feel free to share your thoughts below on great cars that have missed that elusive mark of mainstream acceptance over the years. I am going to be spending most of today getting a bonded title for a 21 year old Cadillac limousine. I will need intensive comic relief thanks to the interminable tortures that come with taking care of that type of title issue at the DMV. So please, feel free to share your stories and insights. I can always be reached directly at steve.lang@thetruthaboutcars.com .

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Analysis: Toyota Digs In, As Union Vote At Canadian Plants Put On Hold http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/analysis-toyota-digs-in-as-union-vote-at-canadian-plants-put-on-hold/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/analysis-toyota-digs-in-as-union-vote-at-canadian-plants-put-on-hold/#comments Fri, 04 Apr 2014 11:45:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=787033 kojiqv858rlto26haud9-7407123

Unifor has put their union certification vote on hold for Toyota Canada’s manufacturing plants, amid claims by Toyota that the size of the bargaining unit is much larger than expected – derailing Unifor’s assertion that they have met the required threshold for a vote.

According to the Windsor Star, Toyota submitted the names of 7,550 workers that would be eligible for to vote on the union. Unifor initially estimated that 6,500 workers would be part of the bargaining unit, and its claims of being able to produce signed union cards for 40 percent of Toyota’s workforce (the minimum number required by the Ontario Labour Relations Board) were based on this figure.

But Toyota’s new figure now means Unifor has to regroup. According to one labor expert interviewed by the paper, Unifor can challenge that number. Unifor President Jerry Dias said that the company will verify that the workers named are eligible to cast a ballot. The Japanese Automobile Manufacturing Association claims that Toyota employs about 7,400 people at its two plants in Cambridge and Woodstock Ontario, though Dias said that based on the fact that 15 to 20 percent of those workers aren’t eligible to be part of a bargaining unit, Unifor arrived at their number of 6,500.

Prior attempts to unionize Toyota plants, by the CAW and another union, both failed when they too learned that they underestimated the size of the bargaining unit. Tony Faria, co-director of the Office of Automotive Research at the University of Windsor, told the Star that Toyota may be fattening the ranks to get to a higher number.

“I would have to say Toyota is including people who don’t work anywhere close to an assembly line. I presume it could be legitimate. Those people could be part of a bargaining unit.”

Speaking to ReutersToyota spokesman Greig Mordue said that Toyota had hired 1,000 new contract workers and transferred 1,000 to “permanent” status since 2013.

While Dias said that there is “no timetable” for a vote, the move comes as the opening shot in what is likely to be a protracted battle to keep Unifor out of Toyota’s plants. The battle between Toyota and Unifor will not attract the attention and fanfare that the UAW did in their efforts to organize Volkswagen’s Chattanooga assembly plant, the stakes are just as high.

No Canadian transplant has ever been organized, and past efforts at Toyota and Honda have been unsuccessful. Honda in particular has waged a major campaign to shut out organizing efforts. Other sources tell TTAC that Honda is simply better at keeping their hourly workers happy.

During our look into Honda’s dealings with the CAW, one industry observer we spoke to (on the condition of anonymity, due to their ongoing work in the Canadian auto industry) explained the importance of keeping Unifor out, from the perspective of Japanese plant managers

“It runs counter to the Japanese concept of loyalty,” our source said. “The whole idea is that if you’re loyal to the company, they’ll look out for you and your best interests. The workers shouldn’t need a union for that.” Honda also doesn’t want an outside force interfering in the way their plants are run. As our source put it “…[Organizing] interferes with the management structure of the plant itself – which is unacceptable to them.” As for what would happen if Alliston, or another Honda plant unionized? “Well,” said my source “remember what happened to Wal-Mart in Quebec?”

Apparently, that same mentality – including a willingness to shut the plant down – is still in play. Toyota’s opening move is to launch a challenge to Unifor under Canadian privacy laws. As Reuters explains

Mordue said the company would ask Unifor to return the information it now has on Toyota workers, and may challenge the process under privacy laws.

“As part of the process under the Labour Relations Act we’re obliged to provide a full list of every team member in the bargaining unit,” said Mordue.

Mordue said the list included the names, work locations and positions of all of Toyota’s production and maintenance workers, whether they are on leave and the last day they worked.

“More concerning is that Mr. Dias has indicated that he fully intends to use this list in his ongoing unionization efforts,” said Mordue. “We think this is a serious privacy issue and one we’ll be taking up under privacy legislation.”

While Dias told Reuters that Unifor is entitled to the information by law, it is indicative of the kind of battle that Toyota is prepared to wage to keep Unifor out of their plants. Mounting a legal challenge like this, even with its own in-house counsel, is a costly and complex effort – but one that Toyota feels is worth pursuing.

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Canadian Toyota Plants To Hold Union Vote As Early As Next Week http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/canadian-toyota-plants-to-hold-union-vote-as-early-as-next-week/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/canadian-toyota-plants-to-hold-union-vote-as-early-as-next-week/#comments Mon, 31 Mar 2014 17:22:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=785369 ToyotaProduction

Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union (formerly known as the CAW), has filed to unionize Toyota plants in Canada. The Financial Post reports that more than 40 percent of Toyota’s 6,500 workers have signed union cards.

According the paper, Unifor president Jerry Dias characterized the move to unionize as an “internal effort”, with employees apparently creating their own union cards and sending them to Unifor.

The FP notes that

“Employees at the Toyota plants have raised concerns about several recent unilateral changes at the plants, including moving new hires to a defined-contribution pension plan and the hours they work. They also have concerns about the company ability to impose other changes, and other health and safety concerns. In order for the certification vote to pass, 50% plus one of the Toyota workers have to vote in favor of unionization.”

According to Dias, the effort to organize has more to do with workers having a say in the management of the plant, rather than compensation or benefits. Dias noted that Unifor would attempt to negotiate a new collective agreement if the effort was successful.

While it would be tough to speculate on the outcome of the vote, Dias has previously stated that he would delay a union vote until he was comfortable that a victory would occur. Previous efforts by the CAW to organize Honda’s plant in Alliston, Ontario, were unsuccessful, with workers repeatedly failing to organize. One Honda insider suggested that a successful campaign could even lead to a shutdown of a given plant, despite the recent investments made by Toyota and the Canadian government.

According to our source, the Japanese take a dim view of any outside forces trying to meddle in the management of their plant – unions included. Unions do exist in Japanese auto plants, but don’t aim to do this, or any other initiative that would be seen as hostile in the context of Japanese labor relations.

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Editorial: Toyota Announces The Most Important New York Auto Show Debut http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/editorial-toyota-announces-the-most-important-new-york-auto-show-debut/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/editorial-toyota-announces-the-most-important-new-york-auto-show-debut/#comments Thu, 27 Mar 2014 14:19:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=782201 camryttac-450x241

This edition of the 2014 New York Auto Show just got a little more interesting, as Toyota announced it will show off a mid-cycle refresh for the current version of the Camry.

Although the 2015 Hyundai Sonata was expected to be one of the stars of the show, the Camry’s facelift will steal some of the thunder from the Sonata. Even if Toyota comes out with a few minor tweaks, the Camry’s standing as America’s best selling car will ensure that there’s plenty of media coverage for Toyota, and a convenient distraction from their recent billion dollar fine that was just paid to the U.S. government.

Toyota has both the will and the production capacity to go to serious lengths to defend the Camry’s title as America’s best-selling car. But a newly updated crop of challengers, from Ford, GM, Honda and Nissan (not to mention the new Chrysler 200) are all looking to chip away at the Camry’s top slot.

Even though the Camry was the only mid-size sedan to sell over 400,000 units last year, the segment itself was up by just 1 percent, and sales this year have been down by 11 percent in a relatively flat market. According to Automotive News, the Nissan Altima has been leading the segment this year, and though it’s unlikely to wrestle the crown from the Camry by year end, it’s a sign that Toyota’s dominance is not what it used to be.

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Toyoda: Recalls Changed Thinking On Safety, Customer Focus http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/toyoda-recalls-changed-thinking-on-safety-customer-focus/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/toyoda-recalls-changed-thinking-on-safety-customer-focus/#comments Fri, 21 Mar 2014 12:15:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=776833 Akio Toyoda

One day after Toyota agreed to pay a record $1.2 billion in a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department resolving a criminal probe into the automaker’s handling of a recall involving unintentional acceleration in its vehicles, president Akio Toyoda proclaimed the recalls changed Toyota for the better.

Automotive News reports Toyoda, speaking before the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association this week, said the recalls “marked a shift in how Toyota and the industry think about safety”:

The criteria for recalls used to be compliance with laws or whether there are technical problems. Now, I think it has become whether the products can assure customers peace of mind.

Regarding recalls overall, Toyoda stated they were good for the “long-term perspective of the automotive industry’s sustainable development,” noting the tool allows for product improvement and finding countermeasures from problems that arise down the line.

Though he remained silent on the settlement, Toyoda said the experience prompted Toyota to alter its approach to quality:

I think it provided a turning point for us to go back to our basic philosophy of “customers come first.” It is getting more and more important to handle recalls by seeing things from our customers’ point of view.

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Toyota Dominates Consumer Reports Used Car Recommendations http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/toyota-dominates-consumer-reports-used-car-recommendations/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/toyota-dominates-consumer-reports-used-car-recommendations/#comments Tue, 18 Mar 2014 13:07:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=774913 2014 Toyota Camry

Several Toyota models dominated this year’s Consumer Reports list of used car recommendations, with 11 out of 28 overall belonging to the automaker’s Scion, Lexus and namesake brands.

Automotive News reports the 2011-2012 Camry and 2010-2011 Camry Hybrid among the best sedans between $15,000 and $20,000, while the 2006-2007 Lexus RX shares the same pricing space with the non-turbo 2009-2010 Subaru Forester. The 2004-2007 Prius, 2004-2006 Scion xB and the Pontiac Vibe/Toyota Matrix twins all took the $10,000 or less small car category, while the 2008-2009 Highlander Hybrid, 2011 Avalon and 2006 Lexus LS took their respective segment spots for vehicles between $20,000 and $25,000.

Overall, all but three of the 28 recommended used cars were made in Japan or South Korea; the 2011-2012 Lincoln MKZ, 2012 Ford Fusion Hybrid and the aforementioned Pontiac Vibe were the only domestics to make the recommendation list.

Consumer Reports also unveiled their “worst of the worst” used car picks, where all but six were made by the Detroit Three, including the Chevrolet Cruze 1.8-liter and Impala, the Chrysler/Dodge trio of minivans, and the orphaned Saturn Outlook and Relay. BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen and MINI make up the remainder of the 21 picks to avoid.

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Junkyard Find: 1966 Toyota Corona Sedan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/junkyard-find-1966-toyota-corona-sedan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/junkyard-find-1966-toyota-corona-sedan/#comments Tue, 18 Mar 2014 13:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=774737 03 - 1969 Toyota Corona Sedan Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinAs I always mention when writing about the the Toyota Corona, my first car was a beige ’69 four-door. Examples of the first generation of the Corona sold in the United States remain defiantly uncollectible for the most part (though a few do get restored and/or customized here and there), which means that beat-up ones wash ashore at self-service wrecking yards when they no longer serve as cheap transportation. In this series so far, we’ve seen this ’68 sedan, this ’70 sedan, this ’70 coupe, and this bonus Corona ad from the February 1969 issue of Playboy. Today’s find is the result of an archeological expedition into an old backup hard drive dating from early 2007, so this California Corona was shredded and put on a container ship in the Port of Oakland about seven years back.
01 - 1969 Toyota Corona Sedan Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinWhen I saw this car at the now-defunct Hayward Pick-Your-Part, I had a crazy idea that I was looking at my very first car (which I hadn’t seen since 1984). The color was right and the body damage looked familiar… but my car had a four-on-the-floor manual transmission, and this one had a three- or four-on-the-tree column shifter. Plus, closer examination showed that this car has no rear side marker lights (required on US-market cars starting in 1968) and a different grille.
02 - 1969 Toyota Corona Sedan Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinYes, column-shift manual-transmission Toyotas as late as 1966. The Corona, with its leaf-spring rear and coil-on-top-of-upper-control-arm front suspension, was mechanically pretty similar to the 1961 Ford Fairlane (though the Powerglide-based Toyoglide automatic transmission gave some Coronas more of a GM feel). The whole package seemed like sort of a 3/4-scale early-60s American sedan.
06 - 1969 Toyota Corona Sedan Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThe first Coronas were imported into the US for the 1965 model year, so this ’66 is one of the first to reach these shores. I’m sure The Crusher ate some parts on this car that are now much-sought-after by the world’s handful of T40 Corona fanatics.
04 - 1969 Toyota Corona Sedan Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee MartinThere’s not much demand for the pushrod 3R engine, though. This ancestor of the SOHC 20R and 22R engines was just as reliable as the later Hilux and Celica motors, but was even noisier and less happy being spun past 3,000 RPM.

01 - 1969 Toyota Corona Sedan Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1969 Toyota Corona Sedan Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1969 Toyota Corona Sedan Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1969 Toyota Corona Sedan Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1969 Toyota Corona Sedan Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1969 Toyota Corona Sedan Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1969 Toyota Corona Sedan Down on the Junkyard - Picture Courtesy of Murilee Martin ]]>
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Junkyard Find: 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/junkyard-find-1986-toyota-cressida-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/junkyard-find-1986-toyota-cressida-wagon/#comments Wed, 12 Mar 2014 13:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=770506 20 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Toyota Cressida is now at its moment of peak junkyard availability, with most examples finally getting to the point at which repairs just aren’t justified by the car’s value. The Cressida was an extremely well-built car by 1980s standards, and a pretty good car even through our jaded 21st-century eyes (which view vehicles that get scrapped before 200,000 miles as suspiciously crappy and/or abused). We’ve seen this ’80, this ’82 this ’84, this ’87, this ’89, and this ’92 in the Junkyard Find Series so far, but today’s Cressida is the first wagon.
07 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one had 234,392 miles on the clock when it finally took that last tow-truck ride.
17 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI shot this in Northern California in January, and this temporary registration expired in August. That means the car was probably still legal when it got towed away for parking tickets and its fines not paid (most likely) or sold for scrap.
08 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNo rust. None at all. Fans of old Japanese cars in rusty areas, you’d better come west and rescue some stuff like this.
12 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe same DOHC 5M-GE engine that Supras got. In fact, the whole car is full of Supra drivetrain and suspension hardware.
01 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWorth restoring or converting into a drift car? Not in California!

01 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1986 Toyota Cressida Wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin ]]>
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Uchiyamada: Hybrids Soon Reaching 20 Percent Of Global Sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/uchiyamada-hybrids-soon-reaching-20-percent-of-global-sales/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/uchiyamada-hybrids-soon-reaching-20-percent-of-global-sales/#comments Tue, 11 Mar 2014 15:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=769666 2014 Toyota Prius v

The father of the Prius and Toyota chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada foresees hybrid sales climbing from 13 percent of global sales today to 20 percent in the near future.

Automotive News Europe reports that while hybrids make up a good part of sales in the United States and Japan, they are currently a niche market in Europe in the face of equal- or better-performing diesels with lower price tags. However, Uchiyamada believes so strongly in his forecast that he didn’t factor plug-in hybrids in to his forecast, nor give a separate outlook for plug-ins.

Speaking of plug-in hybrids, Uchiyamada believes the key to success lies in higher volumes, especially among suppliers:

Suppliers need higher volumes to slash costs of components specific to plug-in models, including batteries that should be bigger and more capable than the ones used in traditional hybrids.

Regarding the Prius, Uchiyamada said the project — known as Project G21 — was a challenge, beginning with the proposal that the future Prius would net “one and a half times better fuel economy than anything that had existed before,” only to be told by top management to double the proposed number. Then, after a successful debut at the 1995 Tokyo Auto Show, he and his team spent 49 days trying to get the proto-Prius to move, finally doing so near the end of that year, “but only for 500 meters.”

Today, with 25 hybrids between Toyota and its premium brand Lexus, as well as a global total of over 6 million hybrids sold, Uchiyamada may have aged out of the title bestowed unto him regarding the Prius:

Maybe I am the grandfather by now.

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Japanese Automakers Find New Export Base, Opportunity In Mexico http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/japanese-automakers-find-new-export-base-opportunity-in-mexico/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/japanese-automakers-find-new-export-base-opportunity-in-mexico/#comments Tue, 11 Mar 2014 14:45:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=769626 Mazda3s Loading Onto Three-Tiered Train Car

Within four months of each other, Honda, Mazda and Nissan have opened new factories in Mexico, taking advantage of the opportunities within the nation’s automotive industry to grow a new export base into the United States, Latin America and Europe while also gaining ground in the rapidly expanding local market, all in direct challenge to the Detroit Three and other automakers on both sides of the border.

Automotive News reports Mexico will become the No. 1 exporting nation to the U.S. by 2015 at the earliest in large part due to the 605,000 units per year added by the three Japanese automakers. Meanwhile, Toyota will begin production in 2015 at Mazda’s newly opened Salamanca plant prior to deciding whether or not to build a new factory of their own. Nissan’s premium brand, Infiniti, may also set-up shop in Mexico.

In turn, the Japanese will see benefits from the move, from mitigating losses from a weaker yen in exports from home and greater profit due to cheap labor, to no tariffs on exports to the U.S. due to the North American Free Trade Agreement and improved product availability resulting from shorter distances between markets.

Speaking of free-trade agreements, Japanese automakers will also have access to some 44 countries and up to 40 million sales annually as a result of Mexico’s many agreements, allowing them to take on competitors in Latin America and Europe.

Finally, the Japanese have taken market share away from the Detroit Three in Mexico’s own automotive market, holding a collective 42 percent over Detroit’s 35 percent in 2013, when just four years earlier Detroit dominated with 57 percent of the market over Japan’s 23 percent.

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Cain’s Segments: Trucks Redux http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/cains-segments-trucks-redux/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/cains-segments-trucks-redux/#comments Tue, 11 Mar 2014 05:47:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=769570 450x244x2014-Chevrolet-Silverado-1500-Exterior-006-450x244.jpg.pagespeed.ic.zAXX8qzO80

February 2014 sales of America’s six continuing full-size pickup lineups grew 1.8%, but GM’s truck twins, the newest trucks on the block, fell 8.9%. Ford, Ram, Toyota, and Nissan combined for an 8.7% year-over-year increase to 94,225 units. The Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra’s decline equalled a loss of 4960 units compared with February 2013.

These full-size trucks accounted for 12.2% of the U.S. auto industry’s total February 2014 volume, up slightly from 11.9% in the equivalent period one year earlier.

Although the F-Series’ gain of 2.6% appears slight, this improvement occurred in an auto market which grew not at all. Moreover, a 2.6% increase for the F-Series adds 1393 extra units of a very profitable vehicle, more added sales than the Chevrolet Volt managed in total.

Total Ford brand sales slid more than 7% in February as car volume plunged 16.8% and sales of the Blue Oval’s five utility vehicles dropped 4.3%. Ford’s car division outsold the F-Series by just 1354 units; the F-Series outsold the utility vehicle lineup by 3040 units. 30.5% of the new vehicles sold by the Ford Motor Company last month were F-Series pickups.

At the Chrysler Group, where car sales dropped 14.7% and generated just 29% of the company’s February sales volume, the Ram Pickup range’s 28.4% improvement was more than welcome. And it was also expected. Over the eleven months leading up to February, the average year-over-year Ram P/U sales increase weighed in at 25.5%. From 16.3% in February 2013, Ram’s share of the full-size truck market (extinguished Escalade EXT and Avalanche excluded) rose to 20.2% in February 2014.

Often mocked for its inability to crank out sales like the top-selling Detroit trucks, the Toyota Tundra continues to be a somewhat popular vehicle by conventional automobile standards. Through the first two months of 2014, it ranks 41st among all vehicles in total U.S. sales, having ended 2013 as America’s 43rd-best-selling vehicle. Tundra sales have increased in each of the last five months, but the current pace won’t have Toyota matching 2007’s high-water mark. Toyota could easily sell more than 120,000 Tundras in 2014 – 196,555 were sold in 2007.

Analyzing the Nissan Titan’s market penetration as it begins its eleventh full year without any meaningful refresh is like studying the merits of a veteran linebacker’s knack for sacking in the twilight of his career. The Titan has for the most part become irrelevant, a fact which won’t make the reintroduction process an easy one when the new Titan arrives. Titan sales reached their peak in 2005 at 86,945 units, fell below 20,000 units four years later, and totalled just 15,691 in 2013. Titan volume is down 33.8% this year and February market share in the category fell below 1%.

From a market share-losing perspective, the Chevrolet Silverado’s decline was worse. (Obviously, the Silverado is America’s second-best-selling vehicle. The Titan is not.) 29.2% of the segment’s sales were Silverado-derived at this time last year, but last month, that figure fell to 25.2%. GMC Sierra market share declined by only a hair, from 9.9% in February 2013 to 9.8% last month.

As a whole, the pickup truck segment generated 11% of its February 2014 sales with small/midsize trucks, on par with results from the equivalent period one year earlier. Thank the Nissan Frontier. Sales of the Titan’s little brother shot up 112% to 5791 units.

Truck
Feb.
2014
Feb.
2013
%
Change
2 mos.
2014
2 mos.
2013
%
Change
Ford F-Series
55,882 54,589 + 2.6% 102,418 101,330 + 1.1%
Chevrolet Silverado
36,584 41,643 - 12.1% 65,510 77,088 - 15.0%
Ram P/U
29,303 23,289 + 25.8% 54,374 43,763 + 24.2%
GMC Sierra
14,232 14,133 + 0.7% 25,350 26,979 - 6.0%
Toyota Tundra
7923 7306 + 8.4% 15,813 14,310 + 10.5%
Nissan Titan
1117 1634 - 31.6% 2004 3028 - 33.8%
Total
145,041
142,494 + 1.8% 265,469 266,498 - 0.4%

 

Truck
Feb.
2014
Share
Feb.
2013
Share
2 mos.
2014
Share
2 mos.
2013
Share
Ford F-Series
38.5% 38.2% 38.6% 38.0%
Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra
35.0% 39.1% 34.2% 39.0%
Ram P/U
20.2% 16.3% 20.5% 16.4%
Toyota Tundra
5.5% 5.1% 6.0% 5.4%
Nissan Titan
0.8% 1.1% 0.8% 1.1%
Full-Size Share Of
Total Pickup Truck Market
89.0% 87.6% 88.7% 87.2%
Full-Size Pickup Share
Of Total Industry
12.2% 11.9% 12.0% 11.9%
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Toyota To Receive SkyActiv Engines For Upcoming Subcompact http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/toyota-to-receive-skyactiv-engines-for-upcoming-subcompact/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/toyota-to-receive-skyactiv-engines-for-upcoming-subcompact/#comments Fri, 07 Mar 2014 15:33:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=767377 Mazda3 SKYACTIV engine, photo courtesy Michael Karesh

Toyota’s line of engine/body mashups continues, this time with their upcoming Mazda2-based subcompact powered by Mazda’s SkyActiv engine family.

Automotive News reports the subcompact, set to replace the current Yaris by 2016 at the latest, will be assembled alongside the new Mazda2 at Mazda’s newly opened Salamanca, Mexico factory. Approximately 50,000 of the factory’s total annual output of 230,000 units will be allocated to Toyota for the subcompact, with the SkyActiv transplant assembled on-site.

Though few details regarding either subcompact have been released, Mazda’s partnership with Toyota will allow the former to achieve greater economies of scale for the factory by supplying engines and possibly other SkyActiv-related components to Toyota.

Production for Toyota’s subcompact is set to begin next year, while Mazda2 production may begin as soon as the second half of 2014.

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QOTD: Toyota, Not Tesla, As A Force Of Disruption http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/qotd-toyota-not-tesla-as-a-force-of-disruption/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/qotd-toyota-not-tesla-as-a-force-of-disruption/#comments Fri, 28 Feb 2014 20:11:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=757641 450x298x1488276_10151952273333579_659848810_n-450x298.jpg.pagespeed.ic.WC5A2hrjb7

Writing in Bloomberg View, former EIC Ed Niedermeyer has published a crtical essay of Tesla, albeit one with a fresh angle: Toyota, one of Tesla’s main automotive partners, is in fact the true force of disruption in the automotive world.

Although Niedermeyer touches mainly on Toyota’s efforts in manufacturing and quality (namely, kaizen),  which disrupted Detroit’s stranglehold on the automotive market, other improvements come to mind. Lexus disrupted German dominance of the luxury segment, while the Prius is the world’s most successful hybrid car. Even if the company is anathema to enthusiasts, Toyota’s contributions to the broader automotive world are immense.

On the other hand, Niedermeyer takes a much more grounded (or dim) view of Tesla – you won’t find any appeals to a utopian society of autonomous EVs, as one analyst touted this past week. According to Ed

“Auto industry success is a marathon, not a sprint … and at current volumes, Tesla is barely walking.”

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QOTD: Choose Your Own Parts-Bin Sporting Coo-Pay http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/qotd-choose-your-own-parts-bin-sporting-coo-pay/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/qotd-choose-your-own-parts-bin-sporting-coo-pay/#comments Fri, 21 Feb 2014 21:21:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=751529 orochi

Oh my, this Toyobaru GT86 situation is a shame, isn’t it? QC issues, dealer gouging, controversial tire choices, sundial acceleration, the catastrophically depressing drone of the engine as it asthmatically stumbles to its powerless redline before the injector seals fail and it vomits out its component parts in a single “FehhhrrrrrrrrggggggghhhhPOP.”

If only the people at Subaru and Toyota had asked you instead of letting their own accountants engineers make the decisions. As Andre 3000 once sang, you know what to do-oooooh-ooooh.

All the parts for a great affordable sports Coop are out there, man! You just have to, like, know how to assemble them! How about an RX-8 with the engine from the Mazdaspeed3? Better yet, a Miata Coupe with the engine from the MS3! Or an M228i with roll-up windows! Or, um, a roadster body on the Ford Ranger with an Ecoboost six!

Clearly, my robotic creativity could never come close to what you humans could imagine. So hit me with your best shot. Put the parts together from various bins, come up with an idea for styling and specification. And if we need rules… let’s say an MSRP of $34,999 or less, shall we? Just do me a favor: make sure the Forester’s base motor doesn’t make the scene in your dreams.

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Slow Sales Of Scion FR-S Disappoint Toyota, Jeopardize Engine Upgrades http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/slow-sales-of-scion-fr-s-disappoint-toyota-jeopardize-engine-upgrades/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/slow-sales-of-scion-fr-s-disappoint-toyota-jeopardize-engine-upgrades/#comments Wed, 19 Feb 2014 22:40:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=749001 2013_Scion_FR-S_--_2012_NYIAS

The Scion FR-S – lightweight, affordable sports car that the world was supposedly waiting for – is reportedly lagging behing its sales targets across the globe, making it difficult for Toyota to justify upgrading the engine or bringing a convertible to market.

Speaking to Auto Express, Toyota Europe R&D head Gerald Killman said

“A faster version of that car would be at the top of most people’s wish lists, but like the cabriolet, it is hard to justify a business case to push either model into production based on the current sales.”

Killman also reportedly expressed befuddlement over the car’s cool reception in the market, depsite enthusiastic reviews, not realizing that this is exactly the problem. Enthusiasts, like automotive journalists, don’t buy new cars. Even though they clamored for a new rear-drive sports car that was relatively affordable, gearheads still found fault with all sorts of things, from the lack of power to the less than impressive numbers it put up and even the sub-$25k pricetag (according to some, it should have been around $20k). If this car suffers an unnaturally short lifespin, there will be plenty of wailing and gnashing of teeth from the same people who criticized it and never bought it in the first place.

This is also a particularly tough time for a youth-oriented sports car to exist in the marketplace. Car ownership for the FR-S’ target market has become a faraway dream in Europe, a relic of an idea in Japan and a luxury in North America. Personally, I think the car was a victim of too much hype. The Toyobaru could never measure up to the effusive praise heaped on it by the media, though I have grown to like the car more and more as time goes on.

 

 

 

 

 

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Junkyard Find: 1978 Toyota Celica GT http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/junkyard-find-1978-toyota-celica-gt/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/junkyard-find-1978-toyota-celica-gt/#comments Mon, 17 Feb 2014 14:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=742825 05 - 1978 Toyota Celica Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe first- and second-generation Toyota Celica was to my generation of freshly-minted California drivers (I got my license in 1982) what the early Ford Mustang was to those born a decade earlier: fairly inexpensive and sensible, but still sporty enough to make you feel cool. I drove a ’69 Corona four-door, possibly the uncoolest car a teenager could own at the time, which was to the Celica in 1982 as the six-cylinder Fairlane sedan was to the Mustang in 1972. These days, of course, all the rear-wheel-drive Celicas are considered worth having… unless they’re in rough condition, in which case they are worth little more than scrap value. Here’s an unrusty-but-still-battered ’78, done up in painfully-late-70s Crisis of Confidence Mustard Yellow, sitting in a Denver self-serve yard.
15 - 1978 Toyota Celica Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe very sturdy 2.2-liter 20R engine made good torque, as befitted an engine well-suited for hauling Hilux-driving, Soviet-fighting mujahideen over mountain passes. You couldn’t spin the R much, as many LeMons racers have discovered, but it would outlast the rest of a Celica.
11 - 1978 Toyota Celica Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWhen did the 5-speed become commonplace enough that it wasn’t worth bragging about via badging?
02 - 1978 Toyota Celica Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSpeaking of badging, can someone explain what these “CARPET” decals on the rear quarter windows mean?
01 - 1978 Toyota Celica Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe interior is pretty beat, but you can still make out the nothing-like-a-Corolla sportiness here.

Guys with huge Malaise mustaches and earthtone suits knew: ditch the Volaré, get a Celica!

A car that gives you your money’s worth.

01 - 1978 Toyota Celica Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1978 Toyota Celica Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1978 Toyota Celica Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1978 Toyota Celica Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1978 Toyota Celica Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1978 Toyota Celica Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1978 Toyota Celica Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1978 Toyota Celica Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1978 Toyota Celica Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1978 Toyota Celica Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1978 Toyota Celica Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1978 Toyota Celica Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1978 Toyota Celica Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1978 Toyota Celica Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1978 Toyota Celica Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin ]]>
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It’s Getting Hot In Here, So Turn Off All Your Motors — And Your ABS, Too http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/its-getting-hot-in-here-so-turn-off-all-your-motors-and-your-abs-too/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/its-getting-hot-in-here-so-turn-off-all-your-motors-and-your-abs-too/#comments Sat, 15 Feb 2014 17:04:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=742401 Image courtesy Priuschat

Toyota had an odd pair of recalls this week, highlighting both the increasing importance of software within the automobile and further reinforcing a pet theory held by your humble author.

The substance of the recalls can be found on Toyota’s website, but here are the money shots:

  • Toyota will update the motor/generator control ECU and hybrid control ECU software on certain Model Year 2010-2014 Prius vehicles. The software’s current settings could result in higher thermal stress in certain transistors, potentially causing them to become damaged. If this happens, various warning lights will illuminate and the vehicle can enter a failsafe mode. In rare circumstances, the hybrid system might shut down while the vehicle is being driven, resulting in the loss of power and the vehicle coming to a stop.
  • Toyota will update the skid control ECU software on certain 2012 Toyota RAV4, 2012-2013 Toyota Tacoma, and 2012-2013 Lexus RX 350 models in order to address an electronic circuit condition that can cause the Vehicle Stability Control, Anti-lock Brake, and Traction Control functions to intermittently turn off. If these systems are off, standard braking operation remains fully functional.

Stuff like this is why engineering products for automobiles is about the worst career in the world. Not only are you faced with uncompromising cost controls, weight targets, and space constraints, you also have to consider the fact that your end user will be anywhere from Fairbanks to Death Valley with his foot flat to the floor, dead leaves in the radiator inlets, and dirty oil sloshing below the minimum mark in the sump. It’s nothing short of miraculous that cars work as well as they do, really.

In the case of the Prius, we have a situation where, presumably, too much current is being fed through something too close to a transistor, or perhaps the transistor is being too heavily loaded and overheating, the same way you can make the bottom of your laptop too hot to touch doing video editing in realtime, engaging in brute-force attacks on encrypted documents, or trying to load the various crazy Flash stuff embedded on this here website. Either way, it’s too hot to handle, so the system decides to lay off on the computing and/or the power transfer until the situation improves.

The other recall would appear to involve a potential “electronic circuit condition”. Allow me to take a wild-ass guess and say that it probably is a condition where a combination of inputs to the software creates a loop or a race condition. The latter term has nothing to do with civil rights or green flags; more a situation where a couple of variables are fighting it out for supremacy. When that happens, from the perspective of the user, the software simply goes out to lunch. Blue screen of death, endless spinning beachball, a Flappy Bird stuck in mid-air eternally because your phone rang right as you were also trying to cue up the next Fleet Foxes song. Of course, if the “user” is the ABS system in your Tacoma, then it, too, has to wait until the next reboot, which in the case of a car can range from a few minutes to the next time the battery is disconnected.

“Well what are you doing? Let’s get out of here!”

“Can’t. Computer’s jammed.”

“Jammed?”

“It says all its circuits are occupied. There’s no power anywhere in the ship.”

Ford moved away from the computer terminal, wiped a sleeve across his forehead and slumped back against the wall.

“Nothing we can do,” he said. He glared at nothing and bit his lip.

When Arthur had been a boy at school, long before the Earth had been demolished, he had used to play football. He had not been at all good at it, and his particular speciality had been scoring own goals in important matches. Whenever this happened he used to experience a peculiar tingling round the back of his neck that would slowly creep up across his cheeks and heat his brow. The image of mud and grass and lots of little jeering boys flinging it at him suddenly came vividly to his mind at this moment.

A peculiar tingling sensation at the back of his neck was creeping up across his cheeks and heating his brow.

He started to speak, and stopped.

He started to speak again and stopped again.

Finally he managed to speak.

“Er,” he said. He cleared his throat.

“Tell me,” he continued, and said it so nervously that the others all turned to stare at him. He glanced at the approaching yellow blob on the vision screen.

“Tell me,” he said again, “did the computer say what was occupying it? I just ask out of interest …”

Their eyes were riveted on him.

“And, er … well that’s it really, just asking.”

Zaphod put out a hand and held Arthur by the scruff of the neck.

“What have you done to it, Monkeyman?” he breathed.

“Well,” said Arthur, “nothing in fact. It’s just that I think a short while ago it was trying to work out how to …”

“Yes?”

“Make me some tea.”

“That’s right guys,” the computer sang out suddenly, “just coping with that problem right now, and wow, it’s a biggy. Be with you in a while.” It lapsed back into a silence that was only matched for sheer intensity by the silence of the three people staring at Arthur Dent.

As if to relieve the tension, the Vogons chose that moment to start firing. — Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Giude To The Galaxy

Your humble author is pretty good at getting cars to enter software failure modes. I experienced it recently in both the Nissan Juke and the Infiniti Q50S, in each case under conditions of speed, driver inputs, and available traction that I would cheerfully characterize as “abusive”. In fact, I’d say that it’s easier, in general, to “break” the dynamic systems of a car through hard driving than it is to break anything else. I’ve had far more ABS or stability-control failures than I’ve had, say, front wheel bearing seizures or dropped driveshafts.

There’s a reason for this, and now it’s time for my pet theory. Believe it or not, I’ve done a little bit of professional software development in my life. This will come as a great surprise to all of you who have considered my squeaky voice, prickly disposition, and tendency to quote Douglas Adams to be infallible evidence of a life spent as a Rhodesian mercenary. Do me a favor and keep quiet about this around the ladies, I always tell them that I paid for my Porsches by doing figure modeling. In any event, I’ve made some bucks writing software and I’ve spent some miserable hours dealing with other peoples’ work and I’ve participated in everything from solo development to the current XP/Agile/Kanban/Pivotal idiocy that’s sweeping the industry.

Once upon a time, software was written by people who knew what they were doing, like Mel and his descendants. They were generally solitary, socially awkward fellows with strong awareness of TSR gaming. They were hugely effective at doing things like getting an Atari 2600 to run Pac-Man or writing operating system kernels that never crashed, but they weren’t terribly manageable and they could be real pricks when you got in their way. I once worked with a fellow who had been at the company in question for twenty-three years and had personally written a nontrivial percentage of the nine million lines of code that, when compiled, became our primary product. He was un-fire-able and everybody knew it. There were things that only he knew.

This kind of situation might work out well for designing bridges or building guitars (not that Paul Reed Smith appears to miss Joe Knaggs all that much, to use an inside-baseball example) but it’s hell on your average dipshit thirty-five-year-old middle manager, who has effectively zero leverage on the wizard in the basement. Therefore, a movement started in the software business about fifteen years ago to ensure that no more wizards were ever created. It works like this: Instead of hiring five guys who really know their job at seventy bucks an hour each, you hire a team of fifty drooling morons at seven bucks an hour each. You make them program in pairs, with one typing and the other once watching him type (yes! This is a real thing! It’s called “extreme programming”!) or you use a piece of software to give them each a tiny bit of the big project.

This is what you get from a management perspective: fifty reports who are all pathetically grateful for the work instead of five arrogant wizards, the ability to fire anybody you like at any time withouiret consequence, the ability to demand outrageous work hours and/or conditions, (I was just told that a major American corporation is introducing “bench seating” for its programmers, to save space) and a product that nominally fulfills the spec. This is what you get from a user perspective: the kind of crapware that requires updates twice a week to fix bugs introduced with the previous updates. Remember the days when you could buy software that simply worked, on a floppy disk or cartridge, with no updates required? Those were the wizards at work. Today, you get diverse teams of interchangeable, agile, open-office, skill-compatible resources that produce steaming piles of garbage.

Enough of the rant. I can’t wait for the day when I never have to touch a computer again to make a living. Admittedly, it will be because I’m a sixty-three-year-old Wal-Mart greeter. But I’m looking forward to it. Where were we? Oh yes. An embarrassing amount of the software in the cars we drive is outsourced to programming farms where the wizards were long ago cut loose. Modern auto manufacturers sweat every detail of the unibody and the tire specs and the thickness of the rear door glass, and they create modern engineering wonders which they then proceed to load up with the cloacal expulsions of moronic bench-seated 120-IQ “programmers”. It’s no accident that software updates make up a large number of recalls nowadays. The software’s written by people who expect a chance at a do-over, not realizing that a Toyota Prius is a little harder to update than, say, a useless Android app.

Given the increasing evidence of this problem, what will the manufacturers do? Will they resurrect the wizards? Bring the programming in-house? Restore pride to the profession? Hell no. The future belongs to Internet-connected cars seamlessly upgrading their firmware twice a week. It sounds very advanced, and it is. But if you want something that reliably gets you to work or pumps its own brakes on an icy road, you might want to stick with the old stuff.

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Next Generation 2016 Toyota Tundra To Share 5.0L Cummins Turbodiesel with Nissan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/next-generation-2016-toyota-tundra-to-share-5-0l-cummins-turbodiesel-with-nissan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/next-generation-2016-toyota-tundra-to-share-5-0l-cummins-turbodiesel-with-nissan/#comments Thu, 13 Feb 2014 14:02:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=740673 983587_10151548891138579_994498399_n
WardsAuto reports that the next generation 2016 Toyota Tundra pickup will receive the Cummins 5.0L V8 turbodiesel for 2016, the same engine that will be powering the next Nissan Titan pickup, due for 2015. While Toyota had been working on a diesel engine with Hino, Toyota’s heavy-truck division, the economic crash of 2008 shelved the plans. With new found interest in light diesels and the new Ram EcoDiesel leading the way with favorable reviews and excellent fuel economy, Toyota looks to jump quickly into the light diesel truck market.

The new Cummins 5.0L V8 turbodiesel is confirmed to produce 300 hp and 500 ft lb of torque in the Titan, so we can expect similar numbers for the Toyota. Not only does this engine produce more torque than any gas motor in a light duty pickup, but even tops the Ram EcoDiesel’s 420 ft lb, making it the most powerful torquiest engine offered in any light duty pickup. This is a a strong move for Toyota and Nissan, possibly helping to bridge the gap between their half-ton pickups and Ford, GM and Ram’s heavier duty 3/4-ton pickups; an area where neither manufacturer currently offer a product.

Both Toyota and Nissan would like a larger chunk of the U.S. light truck market, which last year moved over six million trucks through dealer lots. For 2025, CAFE standards push for a fleet target of 54.5 MPG, making a fuel efficient diesel a necessity for Toyota. The Cummins is thought to a stop-gap for Toyota, as they reconsider their in-house diesel engine produced by their heavy-truck arm, Hino Trucks.

The 2008 economic crash was truly a game changer for light duty diesel engines, and we are just now beginning to see the effects.

Toyota had been working with Hino Trucks to produce a diesel engine for the Tundra, and had shown concepts of a 1-ton dually version of their then-new Tundra at the 2007 SEMA show. Plans for a heavy duty Tundra, along with the in-house diesel engine were shelved after the 2008 crash.

Ironically enough, the Cummins 5.0L V8 turbodiesel was originally destined for the Dodge Ram, and this will be the first time a Cummins motor has been sold in a pickup outside of the Ram. The engine was developed while Dodge and Nissan were planning to share a full-size truck chassis, but the ’09 bankruptcy sunk those plans, and Dodge was unhappy with the estimated fuel economy of the 5.0L Cummins. Nissan made the move to keep the engine.

Through Fiat ownership, who also owns VM Motori, the Ram 1500 received the 3.0L V6 turbodiesel  instead of the Cummins 5.0L V8 turbodiesel. The VM Motori 3.0L V6 turbodiesel was also destined for another home, GM. The 3.0L V6 turbodiesel was originally planned for use in the European Cadillac CTS, though GM also shelved its light diesel plans during its ’09 bankruptcy. Fiat and GM were 50/50 partners on VM Motori until September 2013, when Fiat announced GM would sell the remaining 50%.

And that wasn’t the only diesel GM shelved. Some may remember the Duramax 4.5L V8 turbodiesel GM had been brewing for its light trucks. GM was an early proponent for a modern light duty diesel, but it too was a victim of the ’09 bankruptcy. With new pressure from Ram, Toyota, and Nissan, it’s thought GM may dust off the Duramax 4.5L turbodiesel and bring it to market.

Sources say Ford is working on a light duty diesel as well, planning for a 2018 arrival. With new pressure from its competitors, it will be interesting to see if Ford can join the crowd in time.

2015 looks to be an interesting year in light duty pickups. We will see how the new 3.0L EcoDiesel fairs in light truck use, and both Toyota and Nissan should be rolling out their examples. We can only hope the pressure puts GM and Ford to work getting their light diesels ready.

As long as the price on the diesel option remains reasonable, light diesels should do well in half-ton pickups. Diesels offer superior fuel economy to their gas counterparts in nearly all conditions, especially under load. The Ram EcoDiesel is showing incredible (for a pickup) real world fuel economy numbers, with our own Alex Dykes seeing 29 mpg highway, and 24.2 mpg average in his review of the 2013 Ram Ecodiesel. This, along with superior torque figures to their gas counterparts, would give the average buyer a very decent towing option for those who aren’t ready to step up to the heavy duty trucks, with higher prices and substantially noisier heavy duty diesels.

Here’s a little anecdotal story about the Tundra in the lead photo. It is owned by my friend, and is built to be a mobile work shop for a variety of traveling work: From disaster insurance adjustment, to contracted construction work, to race-support at Pikes Peak and other events. It’s a work truck, through and through, with tool storage and 110v power to run electric power tools off of. One of the major reasons he didn’t go with a heavier duty diesel truck is simply because of the noise, “Man, this thing has to idle all the time while I work. Nobody likes to listen to the CLACKCLACKCLACK of a diesel truck. I just needed something quiet, dependable, and with a long bed. I don’t need a big diesel.” And it works admirably, I spent about 2,000 miles in it during our 2013 run at Pikes Peak with Rally Ready Motorsports. The only real fault with the truck was its horrific fuel economy with the 4.7L V8: with the bed cap and a fair payload it returned less than 13.5 mpg on the highway with speeds averaging 70 mph.

Had a light duty option been offered earlier, it would have fit this role perfect. The light duty work truck deserves a good diesel option.

 

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Toyota Shuttering Australian Factory By 2017, Local Industry Dead http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/toyota-shuttering-australian-factory-by-2017-local-industry-dead/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/toyota-shuttering-australian-factory-by-2017-local-industry-dead/#comments Mon, 10 Feb 2014 15:58:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=738457 Toyota Landcruiser 70 Troop Carrier Workmate

Toyota announced Monday that as of 2017, the automaker will no longer manufacture any of their vehicles in Australia, driving in the final nail to the coffin containing the nation’s local automotive industry following similar announcements by Holden and Ford.

Toyota Australia head Max Yasuda and Toyota Motor Corporation head Akio Toyoda made the announcement at the automaker’s factory in Altona — a suburb of Melbourne — before an audience comprised of various media and the factory’s 4,200 employees. Yasuda claimed numerous factors in the decision, citing high costs of manufacturing, low economies of scale, increased competitiveness surrounding current and future free trade agreements, and the “unfavourable” Australian dollar as among the many reasons for the closures.

“We did everything that we could to transform our business, but the reality is that there are too many factors beyond our control that make it unviable to build cars in Australia,” Yasuda said. “Although the company has made profits in the past, our manufacturing operations have continued to be loss making despite our best efforts.”

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union warned that Toyota’s complete exit from the nation’s manufacturing base would devastate not only those directly affected, but up and down the supply chain, as well. AMWU vehicle secretary Dave Smith added that the final result would be “a potential recession all along the south-eastern seaboard.” The Australian Council of Trade Unions also warned that the pullout would ultimately cost 50,000 jobs and erase $18.76 billion from the local economy.

On the government side, Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said he was disappointed in the decision, and felt that the government would have been able to help had there been enough time to put a plan in place to keep Toyota manufacturing in Australia. Victoria Premier Denis Napthine concurred with Macfarlane’s sentiment and desire to have been able to work through the issue, and would be seeking a commitment from Australia’s coalition government — currently led by Prime Minister Tony Abbott — for a comprehensive adjustment package similar to the one made to Holden employees late last year.

On the subject of government subsidies, Abbott said his government had wanted Toyota to soldier onward, going as far to hold private talks with Yasuda as recently as hours before the announcement of the manufacturing pullout — contradicting what Abbott said in an earlier press conference regarding knowledge of the announcement — though as with Holden prior to its decision, paying the automaker any extra taxpayer dollars was ruled out.

Abbott said that while nothing could be said or done to “limit the devastation that so many people will feel” from the fallout of Toyota’s decision, he wanted everyone to remember that “while some businesses close, other businesses open, while some jobs end, other jobs start,” and that there would be “better days in the future.”

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, proclaiming the Toyota closure an “unmitigated disaster,” offered this statement on the matter:

The car industry has died under the Abbott government — it’s a disgrace.

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