Ford, Mazda, Toyota, Subaru, PSA (Peugeot, etc.), and Suzuki are now part of an automotive alliance concerning your dashboard. The SmartDeviceLink Consortium, as they’re styling it, is apparently all about muscling around Google and Apple’s forays into the automobile, and is based on Ford’s existing “AppLink” software project, which has been around for several years.
I’ve written about smart dashboards before for TTAC. Particularly, in 2013 after Apple’s original announcement, I was amazed automakers were willing to cede so much control over the precious dashboard real estate. I later noted people are likely to be more loyal to their phones than cars and to make buying decisions around what cars support their phones “properly,” especially because Apple and Google fundamentally know a lot more about you and can do a much better job of knowing what you want to listen to and where you want to go.
But what exactly is the SmartDeviceLink Consortium all about? You might think it sounds like it’s a rejection of your smartphone driving the screen in your car, as with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Curious as to what was really going on, I then dug into the giant pile of software and specifications they’ve posted on Github. What’s really going on here isn’t as much in opposition to what Google and Apple are up to as it’s an attempt to standardize it and refactor it.
Toyota is hoping to inject some vigor and flair into the best-selling car in America. With the midsize-car market shrinking thanks to affordable gas and a generational shift toward crossovers, the Camry has lost ground for the second consecutive year. While it is undeniably clear that something needs to be done to recapture buyers’ attention, the methodology behind Toyota’s response is more enthusiastic than sound.
The company says the 2018 Camry has a new “emotionally-charged design,” but the mood its designers tapped into must have been bitter sadness. It is an almost unfortunately futuristic modeling of a car. Following some of the Prius’ head-scratching styling cues, the Camry’s new look stands to be extremely polarizing.
Its face is exaggerated and slightly hostile, though the merkinized grille seems to be covering up a damaged — or perhaps missing — piece of bumper. Thankfully, appearances aren’t everything. (Read More…)
Yesterday at the Consumer Electronics Show, Toyota debuted its Concept-i — an adorable and attentive little cutie pie of a self-driving car.
While it’s too impressive to make it to production anytime remotely soon — especially since Toyota recently disavowed impending autonomy — it’s sweet to see a company embracing fun as a central design concept. It’s a major departure from the super-serious, steering-wheel-absent “driving solutions” hypothesized by other manufacturers. The Concept-i works with drivers, keeping traditional driving controls and offering a “chauffeur mode” when you’re not interested in using them. (Read More…)
The Toyota Motor Corporation is a little skeptical of the imminency of self-driving vehicles. It plans on continuing production of designs where human operators are saddled with the bulk of the driving responsibilities for years to come.
The automaker is openly dubious that tech-focused companies like Waymo and Tesla are sufficiently far enough along to hint at delivering self-driving cars. However, Toyota’s problem with handing the keys to a computer has as much to do with leaving companies open to litigation and criticism as it does with the technology simply not yet being ready.
North America expects millions of traffic accidents every year, but is much less willing to accept computer-controlled chaos at even a fraction of that scale. (Read More…)
Tuesday’s surprise announcement by Ford, where it declared plans for a new Mexican assembly plant were as dead as disco, turned up the heat on other automakers.
With President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign promise of a hefty import tax weighing heavily on the minds of auto executives, long-term production plans are being placed in limbo across the industry. (Read More…)
Sometimes a manufacturer churns out a base trim that — all things considered — might just be a great choice for that particular model. Here’s an example.
It’s the end of the year, which means the internet is awash with anodyne Best Of pieces, designed to distract readers from the fact that journalists are deep into their third consecutive forty-ouncer of Mohawk vodka and too blitzed to write original material in the week between Christmas and New Year’s. This piece may qualify in that vein.
Let’s coast over to Mr. Cain’s handy sales charts, shall we? Hmm. Which nameplates are expected to occupy the podium once all the deals are tallied for 2016? Can we do an Ace of Base on one of those? *swigs vodka straight from the bottle* Hmm. F-Series? Nope. Already done that. Silverado and Ram are similar propositions; no help there. Ah! The first actual car on the list. It’s the … oh, crap. Alright, let’s get this over with.
It hasn’t given the plan a green light just yet, but Toyota is seriously considering letting other automakers tap into its engine, transmission and hybrid technology.
The automaker’s powertrain division chief has opened up on his desire to give rivals everything they need to offer customers a cutting-edge, fuel-efficient vehicle. Why should R&D departments muss their hair when they could just buy off-the-shelf gear from Toyota?
Sergio, are you listening?
Hot on the heels of yesterday’s unveiling of the Toyota Gazoo Racing-crafted Yaris Gazoo WRC rally car, Toyota has said a road-going hot hatch for the common man is on the way.
The automaker’s European division let the news slip in Helsinki yesterday, confirming rumors swirling around a possible hot hatch variant of the brand’s staid subcompact.
Still, Toyota left many questions unanswered. (Read More…)
The upcoming Toyota C-HR, which never had a chance to officially wear its former Scion badge, is on a mission.
Toyota is treating its strategically edgy subcompact crossover as something of a canary in the marketplace coal mine, betting on a big consumer response based solely on its styling. The company that built its reputation on staid, reliable, beige cars wants to know what happens when it lets its hair down.
And no, it doesn’t care if you’re offended. Toyota wants to push your buttons, turkey. (Read More…)
As it prepares to return to the World Rally Championship after a 17-year absence, Toyota and its Gazoo racing division just revealed a piece of brain candy for hot hatch lovers.
Making sky-high horsepower from its diminutive four-cylinder, the Toyota Yaris WRC hits the pavement — and dirt and snow — in Monte Carlo next month, but the vehicle itself could spell a less buttoned-down future for the brand. (Read More…)
Car writers are expected to love wagons with manual transmissions, but most of my love is reserved for the likes of three-on-the-tree-equipped Ford Country Squires and maybe the occasional 4-speed Datsun F-10 Sportwagon. Still, when I run across a Junkyard Find as rare as a second-generation Camry wagon with five-speed, I photograph it.
Here’s one that I spotted last week in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service wrecking yard. (Read More…)
(Update: Specifications for the 2.5-liter engine have been added.)
Dynamic Force. It sounds like the name of a military offensive from the early 2000s, but it’s also the name of Toyota’s next-generation gasoline powerplants.
The automaker has revealed the first of a slew of new engines that should power 60 percent of its vehicles within five years. Oh, and there’s new transmissions and hybrid components to go with them. (Read More…)
Toyota has announced it will expand the development of hybrid technology over the next five years to get ahead of strict global emissions standards.
The automaker plans to increase staff on its hybrid technology development team 30 percent by 2021, setting the goal of 19 emissions-friendly drivetrain components. The fuel-sipping technology could soon find its way into the majority of Toyota vehicles. (Read More…)
I drive a 2010 Toyota Prius. From top to bottom, I’m thoroughly impressed by the technology in this car. And yet this engineering marvel is so easily disabled by its inferior owner leaving a dome light on overnight and draining the 12V battery.
Is there any technical reason cars allow the 12V battery to be drained down beyond the point where the car will start? Who needs that extra 6 hours of dome lighting?
Midsize cars just don’t excite like they used to. North American buyers have happily made the switch to voluminous crossovers and SUVs, turning the once top-ranked segment into a raisin on the vine.
Toyota hopes to change that, announcing that next month’s North American International Auto Show will reveal the next generation of the first midsizer off anyone’s lips — Camry. Perhaps realizing that name recognition and safe styling is no longer a surefire plan for sales dominance, the automaker has scheduled its uber-sensible sedan for an image makeover. (Read More…)