By on March 22, 2016

2016 Toyota RAV4

Toyotas will soon be screeching to a halt everywhere and that should make its rivals jealous.

That, BMW unleashes the robots on the workers, eccentric automaker picks a place with funny-sounding names, General Motors isn’t falling out of love with China, and Mercedes-Maybach to get a rival … after the break!


My dad’s car can stop sooner than your dad’s car

Stopping is the new going fast, and Toyota wants its cars to do a lot of the former.

The automaker has announced that almost all of its vehicles will adopt automatic emergency braking next year, almost five years ahead of a deadline voluntarily set by a group of automakers last week.

The safety system will be in place in almost all Toyota and Lexus vehicles by the end of 2017, the automaker announced yesterday prior to the New York Auto Show.

“High-level driver assist technologies can do more than help protect people in the event of a crash; they can help prevent some crashes from ever happening in the first place,” stated Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota Motor North America.

“We are proud to help lead this industry in standardizing these systems and bring automated braking to our customers sooner rather than later.”

The day following the braking agreement, Volvo made it known that it has included the system on its vehicles for the past two years. Ouch.


Automatic for the people

BMW expects a fleet of small robots to cut the cost of building a car by five percent.

The automaker has unleashed a swarm of small, trolley-pushing robots into its German logistics facility to speed up the flow of inventory, Bloomberg reports:

The German manufacturer plans to roll out the automated trolleys, which BMW makes in-house, to other warehouses after a six-month trial. The program is part of a broader effort to squeeze out several hundred million euros in costs in the coming years to fund the development of self-driving features and other technologies for its cars, investments that may not pay off for years.

Speeding up the way parts are moved around a production facility was one of the last ways BMW could squeeze efficiencies out of its manufacturing process.


TVR has new digs

Wales, which has a hamlet named Llanfihangel-yng-Ngwynfa, will play host to a new factory for eccentric automaker TVR.

The independent British sports car maker, which keeps its fans continuously guessing about what the future holds, will employ 150 workers in Ebbw Vale to build a new TVR model, reports The Guardian:

The TVR investment is expected to create 150 jobs in an area due to be transformed by the building of the £315m Circuit of Wales project, which includes a racetrack and a motor sports centre of excellence …

The current management team acquired the brand in 2013 and has been looking for a base in which to build a new version of the car.

Orders have been strong for TVR’s newest vehicle, which will begin production next year. Within five years, TVR hopes to be able to produce 2,000 vehicles annually.

General Motors Renaissance Center

GM has high hopes in the Orient

Chinese growth might be slowing, but General Motors is betting that the emerging vehicle market will rebound.

The automaker is sticking with earlier plans to invest in the country and expand its lineup, according to Reuters:

While GM continues to bet on the growth of the Chinese market, consultancy JD Power has said that three or more years of less than 5 percent growth would trigger a painful restructuring in China’s auto sector.

Analysts say China’s auto market has entered a period of unprecedented uncertainty as the economy grows at its slowest pace in 25 years.

“Even though the China market is maturing, it will still be a tremendous source of growth for us in both the short term and the long term,” GM President Dan Ammann told a media conference on Monday.

GM’s plan is to introduce 60 new or refreshed vehicles in the Chinese market in the next five years. A second phase is being added to the company’s Wuhan plant to double capacity.


Conspicuous wealth creeps up in the rearview

The Mercedes-Maybach S600 is the pinnacle of German luxury motoring, but that crown could soon be wrestled away by its chief rival.

BMW has confirmed it will build an ultra-luxury vehicle designed to dethrone Mercedes from its perch at the top end of the market, according to Automotive News:

“Just like certain competitors, we will see that we occupy with credible offers the price bracket of 150,000 euros ($170,000) and beyond,” BMW development chief Klaus Froehlich said last week.

While BMW is attracted by the more lucrative margins that Mercedes earns on the Maybach versus its base S-class sedan, its future car would have to drive like a quintessential BMW.

Froehlich suggests the looming super-sedan won’t be based on an existing vehicle platform, as the Mercedes-Maybach is.

“Some simply do 4 or 5 wheelbases [in length] and add varyingly thick chrome packages,” he said. “That will not be the BMW approach.”

[Image: TVR, kenjonbro/Flickr (Flickr)]

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31 Comments on “TTAC News Round-up: Toyota One-Ups Rivals, Robots Invade BMW, and TVR Taps Wales...”

  • avatar

    Have automatic driver assist braking on my Rav. It is terrible when descending from the top of mountain roads. RPM goes to 4500 right away so I just shift into neutral and ride it down. Dealer doesn’t know if it can be adjusted… I sure hope so.

    • 0 avatar

      I think you are confusing Automatic Braking Assist with Grade Logic Control.

      Brake Assist will apply the brakes automatically if an imminent collision is detected and if the driver hasn’t already applied the brakes. As far as I know, Emergency Brake Assist is not part of a Grade Logic Program.

      Grade Logic Control is used for driving down steep grades. The transmission will detect the grade and shift to a lower gear in order to increase engine braking. One purpose of this system is to reduce the load required of the main hydraulic braking system, which prevents overheating of the fluid and pads.

    • 0 avatar

      As LaMansteve said, that’s how its supposed to work. Nothing more hilarious than watching someone set their brakes on fire after riding them all the way down a mountain.

    • 0 avatar

      Jeez relax!, your engine/trans won’t blow up when the cruise control holds your speed on a grade, it’s likely a decently engineered drive-line. Guarantied the dealer is doing eye rolls over this one.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    Toyota “announced that almost all of its vehicles will adopt automatic emergency braking next year, almost five years ahead of a deadline”

    I don’t think they realize that the deadline is for “all,” not “almost all.” This goes double when the deadline is for a feature that “almost all” automaker offer already on some of their products.

    Almost all Toyota accelerations are intentional. Almost all plants in your kids’ playground are not poison ivy.

    • 0 avatar

      I will be done with almost all of my homework almost before it’s due.

    • 0 avatar

      Only 5 of 30 models won’t have the complete system (automatic braking, lane departure alert, AND automatic highbeams) standard by the end of 2017:

      Toyota 4Runner
      Lexus GX
      Toyota 86 (former Scion FR-S, built by Subaru)
      Toyota Yaris iA (former Scion iA, built by Mazda)
      Toyota Marai (fuel cell car)

      The Mirai and iA already have autobraking as standard equipment.

    • 0 avatar

      Designing future models to meet future regulatory requirements is easier than re-engineering old designs. That’s why the deadline isn’t until 2022.

      All models have to have automatic braking by the deadline. No model has to have it five years before the deadline. Every model that has it in 2017 is 5 years early. What’s wrong with saying so?

      I hope the sensors in these systems are better than those in Honda’s far too sensitive collision warning system.

  • avatar

    “Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing (Toyota) is recalling certain model year 2013-2015 Avalon and Avalon Hybrid vehicles manufactured October 19, 2012 to October 27, 2015 and 2013-2015 Lexus ES350 and ES300h vehicles manufactured June 18, 2012 to July 6, 2015. The affected vehicles are equipped with a Pre-Collision System (PCS) as optional equipment. In these vehicles, the PCS may unexpectedly activate and apply the brakes when the radar detects a steel joint or plate in the roadway as an object.”

    Yay! I can’t wait for all the screw ups that will happen when all cars are required to have these systems.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “Some simply do 4 or 5 wheelbases [in length] and add varyingly thick chrome packages,” he said. “That will not be the BMW approach.”

    Sounds like a celebrity squabble.

  • avatar

    “Toyotas will soon be screeching to a halt everywhere”

    So, the opposite of the normal situation, then?

    I keed, I keed…

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    There’s quite a bit of room between where the nicest 760Li or Alpina B7 tops out and where the cheapest Rolls-Royces start. BMW could do an ultraluxuxry sedan above the 7-Series, or a version of it.

    • 0 avatar

      Alpina B7 is a looker, and a keen eye can spot one over a regular 7-Series. I actually pulled over one time when I saw one in a parking lot to get a pic. Killer wheels too.

  • avatar

    Benz already tried the unique model approach. It didn’t work hence the S600 Maybach and possibly GLS Maybach. BMW would be foolish to make a unique one off model. Not just because of the cost but because they already own Rolls Royce.

  • avatar

    Talk about leading with your chin: that’s some kind of Bubba Blue underbite on that RAV-4.

  • avatar

    “Within five years, TVR hopes to be able to produce 2,000 vehicles annually.”

    LAWL. Not even Alfa Romeo can produce 2,000 vehicles annually, and it’s part of FCA.

  • avatar

    I feel like BMW will end up using a platform they already have, or taking a 7-Series nee Mulsanne platform, and adding some length even more, and calling it “new platform.”

    From another press release, though – “Joining the lineup soon will be the range-topper M760Li xDrive, with a 592 HP 6.6-liter V12”

    NOMNOM V12.

  • avatar

    Hmmm…60 new or refreshed cars being introduced by GM in the Chinese market over the next 5 years…wonder how many of them will find their way onto boats heading to the US? Bets, anybody??

    • 0 avatar

      Depends on how much the UAW screams and threatens, price of oil, and reception and reality of the Buick Envision.

      If people look past made in China on the Envision and it isn’t a quality nightmare the odds get better. If the price of oil goes back up the odds get even better. We’re already seeing Chinese influence in a widening range of US vehicles in the form of 1.4L and 1.5L 4-bangers finding their ways into bigger and bigger vehicles.

      In China there is a significant tax added to engines with displacement over 1.5L. So the makers have developed the smaller mills for that market – but we’re getting them here. Ironically with Toyota’s weakeness in the China market, they aren’t feeling as much pressure as Ford, GM and VW. VW has the European market so those mills are more likely to find their way here, with alternate emissions of course.

  • avatar

    Are we going to start a Gawker death watch or is that just too Bertel?


  • avatar

    If Toyota’s automatic braking works as miserably as Toyota’s traction control then Toyota owners won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

    • 0 avatar

      What’s wrong with Toyota’s traction control?

      We have it on our 2008 Highlander and it worked better than advertised going up snow and ice covered US82 in the dead of winter.

      It still continues to function flawlessly for my 19-yo grand daughter when she takes the Highlander off-road into the desert for archaeological digs.

    • 0 avatar

      Huh? We just put 1,135 miles on a 2016 RAV4 LE FWD in Death Valley in 4 days, taking that poor brand new Hertz rental (had 6 miles on the clock when they handed me the keys) down roads and jeep tracks that no 2WD vehicle had any business going on. The traction control was outstanding – if I had taken some pics I would have written a review for TTAC. My feedback would be very mixed – there are somethings I HATED about the RAV4, there were other things I really liked. Traction control? Not a problem – at all.

  • avatar

    I’m pretty sure Toyota’s dead line will be the chalk marks drawn around your Toyota and body.

  • avatar

    TVR’s Speed Six (4.0L NA inline-6, 350+hp) is maybe my third-favorite I6 engine. Hopefully during their time off they figured out how to make one that doesn’t need a complete overhaul at intervals that would make an coachbuilt Italian supercar look reliable.

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