TTAC News Round-up: Toyota's a Big Tease, New Lada Savior, and Buick Puts the Avista Away Forever

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
ttac news round up toyota s a big tease new lada savior and buick puts the avista

Toyota is hoping to break the internet with an alluring butt shot of an upcoming Prius variant.

That, a new guy will turn around Lada (again), Buick says you’ll never drive an Avista, the second GM ignition trial begins, and Google’s got its eye out for buses … after the break!

Hey, my eyes are up here

A shapely taillight assembly and not much else is all that can be seen in an image teased by Toyota in the run-up to the New York International Auto Show.

The automaker was brief in its explanation of the image:

Toyota is rolling out the next mechanical marvel in the Prius lineup at 9:10 a.m. EDT, Wednesday, March 23.

The taillights in the photo have no resemblance to the current Prius, thought the proportions of the vehicle are still sedan-like, meaning it isn’t a new body style being added to the lineup.

The wording of Toyota’s subsequent message — “Put limits in the rear-view” — and the fact that the Prius plug-in model ceased production last year all point to a new, longer-range plug-in offering.

New handler arrives to tame the Lada bear

Russia’s largest automaker has a new CEO with a tough job ahead of him.

After losing lots of money last year and its former CEO last week, AvtoVAZ, maker of the Lada brand and other vehicle lines, has announced the hiring of former Dacia CEO Nicolas Maure, the Associated Press reports:

Maure replaces Bo Andersson, whose departure from AvtoVAZ was announced last week after the company lost around $1 billion in 2015 as the Russian car market contracted sharply.

Maure will continue a modernization program begun by Andersson “despite the short-term challenges” when he takes over April 4, Renault-Nissan alliance CEO Carlos Ghosn said, adding that the alliance remains “bullish about the long-term future of the Russian market and AvtoVAZ.”If you’re looking to turn around Lada, hiring the head of a low-cost automaker from a former Eastern Bloc country might not be a bad place to start.

Oh, guess what? No Avista for you!

In a move that should surprise no one, Buick has announced that the sleek Avista concept revealed in Detroit in January will not be seeing the light of day as a production model, Wards Auto reports:

“The energy around that car and the interest in it at the shows was amazing,” DiSalle, vice president-sales and marketing for Buick, enthuses during a ride-and-drive session for Midwest Automotive Media Assn. members using another vehicle at both shows, the Buick Cascada convertible.

But public reception to the Avista wasn’t enthusiastic enough to prompt Buick brass to give it a production thumbs-up. “It was purely a concept and meant to generate some buzz,” DiSalle says. “No other plans for now.”

Not only does this dampen the hopes of GM enthusiasts who have longed to get their hands on a sexy Buick coupe, it reinforces a strong sentiment expressed by The Truth About Cars about GM’s concept cars.

And, with a soundbite, they’re off!

The second General Motors ignition switch trial has gotten off to a eventful start, with GM’s lawyer claiming two plaintiffs’ minor accident was caused by an ice storm-related pile-up, not their car.

In a bellwether trial that will test the waters for many looking to lock horns with GM over their faulty, accident-linked ignitions, GM lawyer Mike Brock claimed, “Sometimes, accidents just happen,” according to Bloomberg:

The accident was one of dozens that occurred on a New Orleans bridge during a January 2014 ice storm, GM attorney Mike Brock said at the start of a trial that may affect the outcome of hundreds of other cases. Even the police cruiser that responded to the crashes was rear-ended by an ambulance near the site of the pileup, he said.

Plaintiffs Dionne Spain and Lawrence Barthelemy suffered minor injuries and didn’t report additional problems until weeks later, Brock said. The vehicle, Spain’s 2007 Saturn Sky, also had only minor scratches and wasn’t even moving fast enough to trigger the airbag, according to the attorney.

Six bellwether cases are set to go to trial, with the results determining how both sides in a multitude of other cases move forward.

Google wants you to miss the bus

If you’re really keen on creating a self-driving car, it’s probably best to keep a wide berth when it comes to school buses.

In order to keep the kiddies safe in our self-driving future, Google has filed a school bus detection patent, reports Fortune:

The patent, first noted in the Future of Transportation newsletter by Reilly Brennan, director of the Revs Automotive Program at Stanford University, describes a multi-layer system that looks at size, color, signage, and how it compares to other vehicles in order to recognize a school bus. The school bus detection patent was filed March 8, about three weeks after a Google self-driving car hit a city bus at in a low-speed incident.

While the bus collision incident caused some embarrassment for Google, this patent apparently doesn’t stem from that. The company has made child safety a key focus in the development of their autonomous driving technology.

Join the conversation
2 of 23 comments
  • Multicam Multicam on Mar 16, 2016

    That Buick looks like what I had imagined the Lincoln version of the Mustang would look like. As for the Google car school bus recognition, it makes sense that autonomous cars will need that as a separate algorithm. School buses have a unique set of behaviors required when near them on the road.

  • Motormouth Motormouth on Mar 16, 2016

    I liked the Avista and hoped it would go into production as the Buick flagship, but I should've known better as it doesn't fit the new 'global' Buick. That's the Buick that took over from Saturn in reworking and rebadging models produced in Europe. (Regal/Insignia, Encore/Mokka, Verano/Astra, Cascada and well, Cascada).

  • Inside Looking Out "And safety was enhanced generally via new reversing lamps and turn signals fitted as standard equipment."Did not get it, turn signals were optional in 1954?
  • Lorenzo As long as Grenadier is just a name, and it doesn't actually grenade like Chrysler UltraDrive transmissions. Still, how big is the market for grossly overpriced vehicles? A name like INEOS doesn't have the snobbobile cachet yet. The bulk of the auto market is people who need a reliable, economical car to get to work, and they're not going to pay these prices.
  • Lorenzo They may as well put a conventional key ignition in a steel box with a padlock. Anything electronic is more likely to lock out the owner than someone trying to steal the car.
  • Lorenzo Another misleading article. If they're giving away Chargers, people can drive that when they need longer range, and leave the EV for grocery runs and zipping around town. But they're not giving away Chargers, thy're giving away chargers. What a letdown. What good are chargers in California or Nashville when the power goes out?
  • Luke42 I'm only buying EVs from here on out (when I have the option), so whoever backs off on their EV plans loses a shot at my business.