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. Thu, 24 Apr 2014 16:18:16 +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 QOTD: In Defense Of The Toyota Camry http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/qotd-in-defense-of-the-toyota-camry/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/qotd-in-defense-of-the-toyota-camry/#comments Thu, 24 Apr 2014 16:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=809426

Toyota_Camry_--_Cockspur_Island_(GA)_July_2012

We treat the physical results of capitalism as though they were an inevitability. In 1955, no captain of industry, prince, or potentate could buy a car as good as a Toyota Camry, to say nothing of a 2014 Mustang, the quintessential American Everyman’s car. But who notices the marvel that is a Toyota Camry? 

-Kevin Williamson, The National Review

TTAC is not like most car blogs – and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. Last week, the introduction of the newly refreshed Toyota Camry was the most popular article on the site. I couldn’t be happier.

Before we delve in to the Camry, it’s worth discussing one of Williamson’s major points – which will undoubtedly be too politically charged for some – that the average consumer has never had it better in terms of the kinds of goods they can afford, even with a relatively modest salary. These goods, in turn, increase their quality of life, and are not just frivolous expenditures.

The enthusiast press loves to discuss how the new Mustang is the equal of the 370Z or the M3, but for most Americans, the delta between a Camry and a Lexus ES350 – or some European luxury cars – has never been narrower.  The Camry is definitely not the car I’d buy if I was looking for a mid-size sedan (it would be a Honda Accord or a Mazda6 with a manual, if you care). But I can appreciate it in the same way as Kevin Williamson, in that building and selling such an outstanding car for $25,000 is a Herculian task.

WARNING: Tangential missive below

Even if the National Review might strike you as too far from your political leanings, I feel privileged to be able to write for a site that is open to these sorts of discussions, even when politics – and the Camry itself – are “hot button” issues. The internet offers a lot of places to discuss the typical car guy things: statistical urination contests (also known as bench racing), race-to-the-bottom displays of status signalling (whereby contestants aim to profess their undying love for increasingly obscure variants of automobiles) and corporate strategy as dictated by the holder of an Associates Degree with 7 years experiences as a consumer electronics Sales Consultant (inevitably, lots of rear-drive sports cars, body-on-frame SUVs etc).

As far as I know, this is the only place where we can discuss things like incentives, inventory,fuel economy and safety regulations and other topics that would put most Forza-addicted controller-clutchers to sleep, even though they literally dictate the way automobiles are engineered, designed, marketed and sold.

In most corners of the enthusiast world, the Camry is symbolic for what “car enthusiasts” despise; a basic appliance, uninteresting to look at or drive, using relatively simple, proven technology, available with only two pedals, often being sold in some shade of taupe. Only at TTAC could this car attract a following precisely because of those attributes. Then again, it’s really not that bad to drive.

 

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New Or Used? : The Most Reliable Car In The USA Is A …. http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-or-used-the-most-reliable-car-in-the-usa-is-a/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-or-used-the-most-reliable-car-in-the-usa-is-a/#comments Thu, 24 Apr 2014 14:42:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=809362  

coconut

Hi Steve,

What would be the most reliable car I can purchase for about $7000-8000? And what would be the upper limit on mileage that I would even consider?

Steve writes:

I grew up in the food import business. So to me, the answer to this question is a lot like asking my Dad, “What is the best cake I can get for $70?”

He would probably tell you that it depends on your ingredients, your cooking methods, your recipe, and what parts of the ingredients matter to you the most.

The ingredients when it comes to a used car is… the prior owner.

Like a pitcher in baseball who has an overwhelming influence over the outcome of the game, the prior owner’s maintenance habits and driving style has the greatest impact on the longevity of the vehicle when you’re shopping at this lower price range.

The cooking methods are… your own driving style and maintenance regimen. The way you cook those ingredients once you get them determines a lot of that long-term reliability.

My father’s Lincolns were rarely driven hard, and he took fantastic care of his cars. My mom was a rolling hurricane who routinely beat her cars to an inch of their metallic being. Some cars can easily handle the obscenity that is a person shifting from reverse to drive while in motion (Crown Vics come to mind), while other cars would likely be recycled into Chinese washing machines within five years (Chevy Aveo).

You need to be honest about the type of driver you are, the type of driving you do, and the types of wear you have commonly seen in your past vehicles. A diesel is often better for mountainous highways than an older hybrid, and a Lincoln Town Car will likely be a better fit for potholed streets than a Mitsubishi Lancer.

The recipe is usually… the manufacturer.  The ways you get to enjoy it depends on the way they built it.

Cars have their own unique manufacturing tolerances and varying quality levels built into their 180,000+ parts. Honda makes wonderful manual transmissions. Toyota is a world-class manufacturer of hybrids. GM and Ford make highly reliable full-sized trucks and SUVs, and BMW along with Porsche have offered sports cars that were truly the best in the business. The manufacturer that offers the best match for your automotive tastes will impact your reliability because, you will likely be willing to invest in the best parts if that car offers what you consider to be the optimal driving experience.

Does it sound like I’m evading your questions? Well, let me toss around the ingredients that matter to you the most then and give you a solid answer.

If cars to you are like water… no taste is the best taste… and you drive about 50 to 60 miles per hour on flat, boring, mundane roads, then find yourself a 2007 Toyota Corolla. Get a low mileage version with a 5-speed that was driven by a prior owner who knew how to handle a stick. 07′ was the last year of that particular generation and historically, vehicles that are later in their model runs tend to have fewer issues.

If cars are a matter of sport and passion, I have an incredibly weak spot in my heart for second generation Miatas. A low mileage version owned by a Miata enthusiast is a helluva deal. Here in the southern US, an 03 or 04 with around 60k miles would sell for around $7000. I also like the Honda S2000 and the BMW Z4. Those will have higher miles than the Miata, and the Z4 in particular may not match the Miata for reliability alone. But those two models may offer certain ingredients that are more appealing to you.

Finally, if you’re looking for that same automotive luxury and richness as a five layer coconut cake filled with Godiva chocolate flakes, and coconut that was flown directly from the Polynesian Island of Tofoa, the sad news is there are no reliable $7000 Rolls-Royces or Bentleys. However a 2001 Infiniti Q45 is a frequently overlooked luxury model that I would keep a keen eye on if I had $7000 to spend on a ‘rich’ car. One with less than 100k miles, if you can find it, would be a fantastic deal.

Oh well, gotta go and exercise. My morning cake came from an article I wrote a couple of days ago and I now have to remove all the calories that are stuck in my big fat head.

 

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New or Used: Can One Car Last Through Five Kids? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-or-used-can-one-car-last-through-five-kids/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-or-used-can-one-car-last-through-five-kids/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 22:58:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=804162 brady1

I currently have three cars and I feel a hankering to buy a fourth. My wife has bought into the idea, now it’s just a matter of what to get.

The particulars:

- Five kids between the ages of 5 and 15…

- Active duty military with seven (7!) moves since 2005 with a couple more likely over the next several years
- Three current cars are all paid for
- Commute is 35 highway miles each way and will be that way for at least the next 18 months and maybe longer
- Car #1 – 2006 Honda Odyssey with ~120,000 miles (bought new)
- Car #2 – 2007 Honda Accord 5 speed with ~83,000 miles (bought used)
- Car #3 – 1969 Jeepster Commando that’s been in my family since 1973.

Our oldest turns 16 in a few months and we’d like to get a vehicle that the kids can all drive over the next 13 years. Note that I said ‘a’ vehicle as we keep our cars a long time and don’t intend on getting another car for the kids to share. One and done.

What should that fourth vehicle be? I see really only two paths that make sense.

First option: Get a car that pushes 40+mpg to ease the pain at the pump my commute causes. Possible vehicle: my Dad is selling his 2011 Jetta TDI 5 speed wagon this fall and I have dibs, if I so choose. This option would mean that the kids would drive the Accord, which we’re fine with.

Second option: Get something that can double as the kids’ car and that we can use to tow the Commando on our future moves. This means I would keep commuting in my Accord, which is also fine. Budget is about $7K max and we’ll pay cash.

We are leaning strongly towards getting a third gen 4Runner (’96-’01) with a V6, 4×4 and tow package as the min requirements. Manual is highly desired but not required. There are several for sale where we live (north of LA) and examples with 150-175k miles can be found for around $5k, although most are automatics. Reviews and 4Runner forums seem to portend good news regarding longevity with relatively straight forward maintenance required. My fear? My vehicle aperture isn’t nearly wide enough and that there are lots of other good options out there that we’re not considering. Whatever the fourth vehicle ends up being, there isn’t a requirement that it be able to carry all seven of us.

I leave it in your capable hands. What does your magic 8 ball say? (It better not say to buy a Panther, ’cause it ain’t happening!)

Cheers,

Steve Says

I like your first option the best.

If your kids learn how to drive a stick (good move there!), they will eventually get a far better vehicle in the marketplace as they get older and more independent.

As a car dealer circa 2014, it amazes me how so few people know how to drive a stick these days. When it comes to older vehicles, I find that sticks will go for about 15% to 35% cheaper than their automatic counterparts with a few notable exceptions

I still buy a lot of em’ for retail, and although they sit at my lot for longer periods of time, they also attract customers who are far more conscientious about maintenance and upkeep. This helps me when it comes to financing these rides. Since a car that is well kept tends to have fewer issues.

As for option 2, yes, the Toyota 4Runner has an excellent long-term reliability record. But let me throw in an alternative that will cost thousands less and have a solid reliability record as well.

I would consider a Mitsubishi Montero  from the early 2000′s. If you buy one with the 3.5 Liter, they are virtually bulletproof, and the kids will benefit from a higher seating position.  The gas mileage will remain abysmal. But in the real world the 3.5 Liter in the Montero will get you a vehicle with about half the miles of the 4Runner for the same price, and the reliability of that particular powertrain is solid (<—click).

Maintenance history is critically important when buying older SUV’s because a lot of them are neglected and inevitably hot-potatoed in the used car market . So get it independently inspected and only opt for ones that have a strong maintenance regimen. Otherwise you will also be buying someone else’s problems.

Good luck! Oh, and if you decide to not buy an older SUV, I have a beige on beige Toyota Solara with a V6, no CD player, and a hand shaker in between the front seats. I’m thinking about naming it, “The Rolling Leper” in honor if it more or less being an unsellable car.

If you don’t have to tow, go find the west coast version of a low-spec Solara. In a non-rust climate like central California, I think a car like that would probably be the optimal fit.

All the best.

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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.

2015-Toyota-Camry-18 2015-Toyota-Camry-2 2015-Toyota-Camry-15 2015-Toyota-Camry-14 2015-Toyota-Camry-13 2015-Toyota-Camry-11 2015-Toyota-Camry-10 2015-Toyota-Camry-9 2015-Toyota-Camry-5 2015-Toyota-Camry-4 2015-Toyota-Camry-1 ]]>
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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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