By on August 19, 2021

Despite being one of the only manufacturers not to incur heavy production losses over the global semiconductor shortage, Toyota has announced that its luck has finally run out. The automaker is estimating that it will need to cut assembly by 40 percent this September.

It’s not alone. Both Ford and General Motors have announced they’re also stifling production this week to account for a deficit of chips. Even Volkswagen Group has been cautioning that it might schedule more downtime going into the fall. But that’s basically been the story for all of 2021. Toyota just happens to be the newest inductee.  (Read More…)

By on February 16, 2021

Japan was struck by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake over the weekend. The Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures were hit the hardest, offering a physical reminder of the 9.0 magnitude quake that devastated the region in 2011. Scientists have claimed that Saturday’s tremor was actually an aftershock from the horror show that occurred a decade earlier.

While still a large systemic event, authorities aren’t reporting widespread injuries or even damages. However, many citizens were left without power and numerous industrial facilities were idled for inspection. This includes automakers, with Toyota making an announcement that it will be stalling nine factories for several days this week. Though only some of that time is needed for safety assessments. The automaker is fretting over a batch of suppliers that were impacted by the quake and is anticipating a parts shortage.

(Read More…)

By on February 1, 2021

Lexus enjoyed years of uninterrupted success as the preeminent purveyor of reliable Japanese luxury. However, the current lineup has become somewhat antiquated and the brand can no longer rest assured that it will be at the summit of every reliability ranking the industry manages to produce. Though usually still within the top five, management feels it’s time to update the “brand vision” and redefine how people see Lexus.

While the evolution of an automotive brand is an essential aspect of its survival, a lot of automakers have gone the popstar route of reinventing themselves based on the latest trends. This explains the sudden influx of minimalist logo redesigns utilizing slimmer fonts and monochromatic color schemes, though it hardly forgives the industry’s general lack of imagination. Despite Lexus giving us few details to work with, its latest release has us wondering if it could be plotting a similarly dull trajectory for itself.

(Read More…)

By on December 4, 2020

Sweden’s evasive maneuver test, better known as the moose test, is a brutal simulation of what might happen if your lane was suddenly occupied by a giant mammal and you had to get out of the way in a hurry or prepare yourself to become one with the animal. It also happens to be one of the hardest automotive tests to pass, with a long list of models failing to stay on course at highway speeds. In fact, the whole point of the test is to see how fast a vehicle can run the brief gauntlet without running over traffic cones or flipping itself over.

As a result, the cars that typically perform the best tend to be lightweight road huggers with above-average factory rubber. Meanwhile, crossovers and pickups have had particularly poor showings — with Toyota’s RAV4 embarrassing itself rather badly in 2019 after Stockholm’s Teknikens Värld (one of the European publications that made the test world-famous) showed its stability management system was ill-equipped to handle the course. While Toyota went out of its way to remedy the issue with a software update in Europe, recent testing showed the RAV4 PHEV was back to its old tricks… or lack thereof.

(Read More…)

By on November 3, 2020

Toyota is reportedly seeking to supercharge vehicle production to record levels in the latter half of 2020 as a way to help offset how lousy the rest of the year has been. Its previous six-month record was achieved in 2015 and resulted in 4.53 million sparkling new automobiles. But Toyota would like to eclipse that this year and is targeting 4.6 new vehicles between July and December, with the biggest assembly push coming in the final quarter.

(Read More…)

By on October 28, 2020

Toyota has added another 1.5 million vehicles to the fuel pump recall instituted at the start of 2020, bringing the grand total to 3.34 million units. While the original recall accounts for models stretching all the way back to 2013, the manufacturer announced on Wednesday that the newest additions encompass Toyota and Lexus products assembled between July 2017 and September 2020.

Considering a portion of the vehicles were manufactured months after the firm had already announced there was a safety issue with the pump, it’s a little odd to see them being added to the list at all. Supplier Denso Corp. is responsible for the components in both instances and suggested we reach out to Toyota for information. But the Japanese automaker essentially reiterated what it said in the previous safety announcement, adding that it was working with Denso to make sure replacement parts were made promptly available.

(Read More…)

By on September 10, 2020

On Thursday, Toyota Motor Corp.’s research division announced it would create an $800 million global investment fund. While important news, Toyota’s dispatch was expected. The business had previously mentioned it was assembling a new holding company called Woven in July, noting that the entity would be focused on heavily upon software development and finding new partners for its most advanced projects.

Most of those seem to be in support of the “mobility as a service” concept that seeks to remove customers’ ability to own vehicles. The rest are interested in promoting alternative energy solutions or social engineering how we’ll be living in the future via “smart cities.” The fund also seems to be helping replace Toyota Research Institute-Advanced Development (TRI-AD). In fact, the Japanese R&D arm was actually the one that announced the $800 million “global growth-stage investment fund” that officially creates Woven Capital.

(Read More…)

By on July 29, 2020

Toyota announced the creation of a new holding company that will oversee its software development initiatives this week. While our default response is to gripe about the nebulous concept of “mobility companies” and the industry’s obnoxious emphasis on shifting data, we also understand that it pays to have someone on hand who knows their way around a line of code.

It wasn’t all that long go that Volkswagen was bragging about taking software seriously, only to be publicly shamed by the media when bunk programming screwed up the launch of numerous physical products. The cynical side of the brain knows this could have been avoided by ignoring unnecessary connectivity features and a potentially ill-conceived attempt to digitize the entire cabin.

We’re sympathetic to the nature of competition and the appeal “newness” has on customers. The automotive industry has seen the sea of riches amassed by tech companies harvesting data and knows which way the wind is blowing. No brand wants to be seen as technologically inferior, even if many of the newer features in modern cars aren’t really in service of anything other than marketing. Yet the “software first” mentality that has started presiding over vehicle development seems somewhat counterproductive, and Toyota may have just bought into it hook, line and sinker.

Then again, maybe it’s a great play and we’re just not seeing the big picture. So let’s dive in and see what we find. (Read More…)

By on June 22, 2020

If the last few months have taught us anything, it’s that you can keep people isolated in their homes without any negative consequences whatsoever.

Sure, we’ve seen articles from scientific journals like The Lancet warning that similar experiments run on a much smaller scale resulted in psychological stress and disorder, including low mood, insomnia, stress, anxiety, anger, general irritability, emotional exhaustion, paranoia, drug abuse, depression and post-traumatic stress symptoms, but where’s the evidence of that happening this time?

Don’t answer that.

Employers the world over are already seeing the benefits of remote work and have begun to consider how to make it a long-term proposition. In addition to protecting companies against any new COVID-19 outbreaks, stay-at-home orders mean paying for less office space and utilities. Automakers are starting to think this is a pretty sweet deal — especially with productivity not having taken much of a hit — and are now considering whether to extend at-home employment indefinitely.  (Read More…)

By on April 15, 2020

Mazda Toyota Manufacturing will have to wait a while before it manufactures any automobiles. The jointly operated facility in Huntsville, Alabama won’t open next spring as planned. It’s delayed on account of the coronavirus outbreak.

Designed to produce collaborative crossovers, the facility came to be after state and local governments floated $800 million in incentives to temp the automakers. Apparently good enough, the $1.6-billion project launched under the assumption that the first of two production lines would be operational by April of 2021. That date has been pushed back indefinitely as Toyota and Mazda assess the situation. (Read More…)

By on March 17, 2020

With reports of factory shutdowns now being the norm, Volkswagen and Toyota have predictably decided to idle facilities in Europe to mitigate the negative influence of the novel coronavirus. VW Group had already made plans to temporarily close assembly lines in Italy, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain. But said that the entirety of Europe will probably be affected this month.

Toyota was singing a similar song on Tuesday morning, saying it would suspend production in France and Portugal this week. Considering the sameness of these virus-related cancelations, we’ll not bore you with any recaps — you know how we got here. Instead, here’s the gist of the manufacturers’ respective strategies:  (Read More…)

By on February 26, 2020

With South Korea, Italy and Iran now reporting growing coronavirus outbreaks, it looks like this is going to be one of these long-haul illnesses that sends everyone to the store to stock on up on milk and bread. As you might have guessed, automakers have continued issuing warnings as the virus’ range continues to expand. On Wednesday, Toyota announced that its Japanese plans will undoubtedly be impacted by parts shortages over the next few weeks as Chinese suppliers remain dormant.

The worst of the outbreak is still located in Wuhan, where the virus is spreading out toward China’s coastal cities. Reliable figures for the number of people affected are difficult to come by. The Communist Party of China (CPC) and World Health Organization (WPO) both claim China had this one in the bag, with new cases always reported as “slowing” — an assertion you would be forgiven for doubting. COVID-19 seems anything but under control. This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told U.S. citizens to prepare for the worst as the stock market stumbled over fears of a global pandemic.  (Read More…)

By on February 26, 2020

Last year, Toyota and Pony.ai announced a pilot project to test autonomous vehicles in Chinese cities, with an aim to continue working together on self-driving projects in Asia. The time for strengthening the relationship is now, with Pony confirming it had received a $400 million investment from the Japanese automaker as part of its latest funding roundup.

Toyota doesn’t have an exclusive arrangement with the startup and is free to work with other companies. Pony already has other investors on board, operating autonomous testing hubs in California, Beijing, and Guangzhou. However, the investment from Toyota could mean it’s about to become a whole lot more important to the business, as the pair are already discussing new ways to collaborate once they’ve finished fielding testbed Lexus RXs to sharpen the firm’s software.  (Read More…)

By on February 7, 2020

With the next-generation 2020 Toyota Highlander now riding atop a new platform, the manufacturer has decided to grow its sport-adjacent XSE trim level by throwing it into mix for the 2021 model year. The model took a bow at the Chicago Auto Show on Wednesday.

Settling between the XLE and Limited trims, XSE uses the same 3.5-liter V6 (295 horsepower, 263 lb-ft of torque) that’s now found in all non-hybrid Highlanders. The performance boost come by way of suspension upgrades and a few tweaks to the electrically assisted power steering unit. Everything else is cosmetic, but Toyota believes it will all come together to create a sportier driving experience.

The automaker says it’s giving the model the “XSE treatment,” adding it’s aimed at “people who need SUV practicality but really miss driving sport sedans.” While we’re not sure how much overlap exists between Highlander shoppers and sports-sedan enthusiasts, semi-sporting packages and trim lines are standard practice these days. They must hold some level of appeal, or manufacturers wouldn’t insist on dangling them in front of us.  (Read More…)

By on January 15, 2020

Toyota has announced the recall of 696,000 vehicles in the United States due to safety concerns caused by a suspect fuel pump. The manufacturer said affected vehicles are equipped with a pump which may stop operating, asking customers to be on the lookout for warning lights and a rough running engine.

Impacted autos run the risk of stalling, with an inability to restart the vehicle if the fuel pump fails entirely. (Read More…)

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