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…)

By on December 17, 2019

The perpetually cautious Toyota has decided to adhere to industry norms by promising to launch its latest advanced driving technologies on commercial vehicles first. This announcement works in tandem with the Toyota Research Institute-Advanced Development’s (TRI-AD), which has a fancy new headquarters focused on delivering “safe mobility by bridging Silicon Valley’s innovation with Japanese craftsmanship.”

The decision to prioritize commercial vehicles is relatively common. Most companies developing self-driving tech believe there are loads of cash to be found in autonomous taxi services and automated fleets. Large firms operating an entire fleet of AVs will also be better equipped to purchase and service them. Heavily dependent upon camera equipment and sensors, self-driving vehicles will need to be constantly maintained to ensure they are clean and functional. Toyota also sees possibilities in mobile shops and ambulatory hospitals, according to Reuters, which would require similarly high levels of attention. (Read More…)

By on October 23, 2019

Lexus just previewed its first electric vehicle in Tokyo, indicating that Toyota Motor Corp. is ready to launch an onslaught of EVs. While the LF-30 Electric is a concept vehicle through and through, it establishes the direction Lexus plans on taking as a brand while blowing the war horn for subsequent Toyota EVs.

Unfortunately, the marketing materials chosen by Lexus hinge on tired mobility tropes — undercutting the concept’s best attributes. The official video is particularly bad. (Read More…)

By on October 11, 2019

Lexus issued a teaser this week and it took a few passes before we could identify it as a vehicle. Initially, your dim-witted author presumed it was some kind of at-home charging solution or wildly modern vacuum cleaner design. Lexus’ tagline wasn’t much help, either. “The Future is Electrified” is boilerplate content for the automotive industry right now — or perhaps some highly contagious corporate tic.

This time it’s being used to preview a new battery electric vehicle Toyota’s luxury arm intends on debuting at the Tokyo Motor Show this month… at least that’s what we’ve been told.

Honestly, it’s still a little difficult to tell. While it seems as though we’re getting a close-up glimpse of the portion surrounding the model’s headlight, there are factors at play that make it hard to feel certain of anything. Is that giant opening supposed to be an air inlet? Where does it lead on this purely electric vehicle? Is this even the car’s front?  (Read More…)

By on July 23, 2019

When an automaker discusses mobility, they’re not really talking about anything specific. The term has been established within the industry as a catch-all phrase for electrification, app-based services, autonomous programs, data acquisition, robotics, and whatever other ideas that don’t fit neatly within a company’s core product line. Providing the best example of the term’s nebulous nature this week was Toyota, which showcased a glut of mobility projects for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games — as well as toying with the idea of handing over vehicle data to the Japanese government.

Let’s start with the concerning aspects before we get into the goofy stuff.  (Read More…)

By on July 19, 2019

On Friday, Toyota Motor Corp. announced it had signed an agreement for the joint development of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) with China’s BYD Company Ltd. Technically, BYD also made an announcement but we’re not scouring their press page on an hourly basis. Toyota gets top billing.

According to the release, the two companies will jointly develop “sedans and low-floor SUVs as well as the onboard batteries for these vehicles and others with the aim to launch them in the Chinese market under the Toyota brand in the first half of the 2020s.”

Having previously announced it was teaming up with Contemporary Amerex Technology (CATL) and Panasonic to supply and develop batteries, Toyota is trying to expand rapidly into electric development — after showing limited interest for years. We’ve no clue how these partnerships will influence the brand’s physical products outside of Asia but, at the very least, it should have fewer battery supply issues than some of the competition moving forward.  (Read More…)

By on July 10, 2019

Toyota Motor Corp announced on Wednesday it would be building a new sport utility vehicle at its $1.6 billion joint venture assembly plant in Alabama, rather than the Corolla. This brings its strategy in line with Mazda, which announced it would also be building an SUV at the facility earlier this year.

Officially, Toyota said the change was due to “changing market demands and a growing consumer appetite for light trucks and SUVs,” while slipping in a mention of how well the RAV4 has been selling for good measure.  (Read More…)

By on June 27, 2019

Having recently announced plans to “popularize” battery electric vehicles, Toyota now expects half of its global volume to stem from electrified cars by 2025. That’s five years sooner than originally promised.

Toyota may seem perpetually averse to change but it has been making a lot of moves behind the scenes to ensure it’s at the forefront of a shifting market while also trying to future proof itself in the event that electrification winds up being a dead end. The plan is rather complex and, as I don’t want to re-write a 900-word article, I would like to redirect you to the relevant information.

However, as nuanced as Toyota’s overall strategy may be, the company is still going to need to spend truckloads of cash to remain in the game. With that in mind, the Japanese automaker appears to be investing $2 billion to develop electric vehicles in Indonesia over the next four years — with hybrids being first on the docket.  (Read More…)

By on June 9, 2019

Following announcements that Toyota would be working on a shared electric vehicle platform with Subaru, as well as a jointly developed crossover, the brand conducted a press conference on Friday regarding its decision to “popularize BEVs.” While the announcement didn’t deal with the specifics of cutting-edge tech, auxiliary business opportunities, or even a total shift toward battery electric vehicles, it did represent a major commitment from a manufacturer that’s notoriously cautious in its decision making.

Opening the conference, Executive Vice President Shigeki Terashi focused largely on the challenges of electrification. Terashi said Toyota’s intent has always been to support “social progress” and curb CO2 emissions while acknowledging that it had only made formal commitments to electrification within the last couple of years. However, he showed that the automaker has been busy within that time, and had several initiatives in the works aimed at repositioning Toyota as a mobility brand, by outlining the company’s extremely complex EV strategy.

Buckle up, because there is a lot to this — including some new cars.  (Read More…)

By on May 21, 2019

While it’s difficult to muster sympathy for giant corporations, the trade war current raging between the United States and China has left many stuck in an industrial limbo. Automakers want a bigger slice of the global market, but putting your eggs in either country’s basket will result in repercussions from the other.

We’re not saying this to promote some kind of commiseration for multinational companies; rather, it’s simply to remind everyone of how the auto industry has to conduct its business. Frequently, carmakers must play both sides. Toyota, already one of the world’s largest automakers, knows this better than anyone, and new documents shed light on some of the cloak-and-dagger aspects of maintaining its high-volume position.  (Read More…)

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