Archive for the ‘Toyota’ Category

It’s not that sporty, but it is rather good—the 2019 Lexus ES350 F Sport

February 4th, 2019

Last year, I may have been a little unkind when I reviewed the Toyota Camry. I still wonder if that was because the car we drove was a fully loaded version; the Camry is a utilitarian car, and something about one with a bright red leather interior just didn't sit right. After all, if you want a fancy Toyota, there's an entire brand called Lexus who's raison d'être is just that. Which brings us to today's car, the $43,135 2019 Lexus ES350 F Sport. It is, in essence, a fancy Camry. And while it doesn't quite live up to the "F Sport" moniker, the end result is really quite good.

All-new architecture, you say?

The new ES is in fact the seventh generation of vehicle to wear the nameplate—that's not bad going, considering the first ES only turned a wheel in 1989. Perhaps that shouldn't be surprising given that the related Camry is now in its eighth iteration, though. And related they are; the Camry and ES both share the same modular Toyota New Global Architecture-K (or GA-K) as starting point, which also provides the building blocks for the Toyota Avalon and RAV4. The layout sticks to the tried-and-tested approach of a transverse engine and front- or all-wheel drive.

It's a bigger car than the one it replaces, being both 2.6 inches (66mm) longer and 1.8 inches (46mm) wider now (L: 195.5 inches/4,966mm, W: 73.4 inches/1,864mm, H: 56.9 inches/1,445mm), and with the wheels closer to the corners, that translates into a roomier interior. (The wheelbase is 2 inches/51mm longer at 113 inches/2,870mm.) According to the designer, Yasuo Kajino, the ES' look is "provocative elegance." Insert my usual disclaimer about the subjectivity of car design here, but to my eyes it wears its shape well—better than the Camry, which still evokes a late 1950s, Flash Gordon and fins thing to me. Lexus' current hourglass/cheese grater front grille will still challenge some, though. (If you pick the regular ES (starting at $39,600), or the hybrid (from $41,410), the interlocking Ls are replaced with plain old vertical bars, but neither was available on the press fleet yet, so we were sent this one.)

Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in cars, lexus, Lexus ES350 F Sport, Toyota, Toyota Camry | Comments (0)

Report: Toyota and Panasonic to create an electric car-battery spinoff company

January 21st, 2019
A Toyota Prius battery

Enlarge / This photo taken on June 5, 2009, shows Toyota Motors' third-generation Prius hybrid vehicle battery module displayed at Panasonic's EV Energy headquarters in Kosei, Aichi, prefecture. (credit: TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)

According to Nikkei Asian Review, Toyota Motors and Panasonic have agreed to set up a joint-venture company to manufacture vehicle batteries, with Toyota owning 51 percent of the company and Panasonic owning 49 percent.

Ars Technica contacted both companies to confirm the report, and we'll update this story if we hear back.

Nikkei reports that Panasonic would transfer ownership of five battery factories in Japan and China to the joint venture. The joint venture would start operations "in the early 2020s," and it would start producing "batteries with 50 times the capacity of those now used in hybrid vehicles, aiming to bring down production costs through higher volume," according to Nikkei.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in batteries, battery electric vehicles, cars, Energy, fuel, panasonic, Tesla, Toyota | Comments (0)

Why I’m skeptical about Toyota’s approach to self-driving cars

January 8th, 2019
Promotional image of a white Toyota topped with an array of sensors.

Enlarge (credit: Toyota Research Institute)

As most of the car industry have scrambled to develop fully driverless car technology over the last few years, Toyota has taken a pointedly contrarian tack.

"None of us in the automobile or IT industries [is] close" to solving the challenge of fully autonomous vehicles, said Gill Pratt, CEO of the Toyota Research Institute, in a speech at the Consumer Electronics Show on Monday.

As a result, Toyota has taken a two-track approach to its own self-driving vehicle research. On one track, dubbed "Chauffeur," Toyota is working to develop fully autonomous vehicles similar to those being created by Alphabet's Waymo, GM's Cruise, and other companies.

Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in cars, self driving cars, Toyota | Comments (0)

Hyundai looks to build a >300-mile-range electric car

August 17th, 2017

Enlarge / Signage for an electric car charging booth is displayed at Federation Square car park in Melbourne, Australia, on Friday, April 28, 2017. Photographer: Carla Gottgens/Bloomberg via Getty Images (credit: Bloomberg / Getty Images)

On Thursday, Hyundai said that it intends to produce a long-range electric vehicle by 2021 that will be capable of traveling 310 miles on a charge. That vehicle, a luxury Genesis sedan, will follow an electric version of the Kona sport utility vehicle that the Korean automaker hopes to release in the first half of next year. The electric Kona should have a range of 243 miles, Reuters noted.

Along with affiliate company Kia, Hyundai announced eight electric cars and two fuel-cell vehicles coming to market in the near future—a significant jump in the number of electric vehicles (EVs) that the company has planned to bring to market in years prior. Hyundai, like Toyota, has boosted the fuel cell vehicle for years. Fuel cell vehicles use hydrogen as fuel and emit water as a byproduct. But the compressed hydrogen that runs fuel cell vehicles is hard to store and hard to transport, so it has been slow reaching the market, although fuel cell vehicles do have the advantage of being fast to refuel, unlike electric vehicle batteries.

Toyota has also recently shown signs that it’s pouring more resources into mass-producing a long-range electric car as well. In July, an article in The Wall Street Journal noted that the Japanese automaker was working on building a battery with a solid electrolyte that would go into production in 2022. With Tesla and Chevrolet rolling out moderately priced EVs with long-range capabilities, other automakers known for moderately priced cars seem to be ready to get in the ring as well.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in cars, Chevrolet, electric, hyundai, Tesla, Toyota | Comments (0)

Toyota and Mazda join forces to build $1.6 billion factory in the US

August 4th, 2017

Enlarge / Toyota President Akio Toyoda, left, and Mazda President and CEO Masamichi Kogai, right, shake hands during a photo session at a joint press conference on August 4, 2017 in Tokyo, Japan. (credit: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)

On Friday, Toyota Motor Corp. and Mazda Motor Corp. signed a deal to enter into an alliance. As part of the plan, the pair will build a new factory in the US and develop new electric vehicles and connected car and autonomous driving systems. Each company will purchase five percent of the other’s shares.

In May 2015, the two companies entered into a partnership to explore avenues of mutual benefit, sharing complementary technologies. This new deal strengthens that partnership.

The site of the new $1.6 billion US factory is yet to be determined, but it’s planned to be an equal venture between Mazda and Toyota. The site will employ up to 4,000 workers and produce around 300,000 vehicles a year starting in 2021. Mazda says it will produce CUVs for the North American market at the new plant, and Toyota will use it to build Corollas. As a result, Toyota’s new factory in Mexico will instead shift to production of the Tacoma pickup truck instead.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in cars, mazda, Toyota | Comments (0)

Toyota and Mazda join forces to build $1.6 billion factory in the US

August 4th, 2017

Enlarge / Toyota President Akio Toyoda, left, and Mazda President and CEO Masamichi Kogai, right, shake hands during a photo session at a joint press conference on August 4, 2017 in Tokyo, Japan. (credit: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)

On Friday, Toyota Motor Corp. and Mazda Motor Corp. signed a deal to enter into an alliance. As part of the plan, the pair will build a new factory in the US and develop new electric vehicles and connected car and autonomous driving systems. Each company will purchase five percent of the other’s shares.

In May 2015, the two companies entered into a partnership to explore avenues of mutual benefit, sharing complementary technologies. This new deal strengthens that partnership.

The site of the new $1.6 billion US factory is yet to be determined, but it’s planned to be an equal venture between Mazda and Toyota. The site will employ up to 4,000 workers and produce around 300,000 vehicles a year starting in 2021. Mazda says it will produce CUVs for the North American market at the new plant, and Toyota will use it to build Corollas. As a result, Toyota’s new factory in Mexico will instead shift to production of the Tacoma pickup truck instead.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in cars, mazda, Toyota | Comments (0)

Review: The Toyota C-HR Hybrid is a mass-market vehicle with panache

June 20th, 2017

The hybrid version of the Toyota C-HR is not yet available in the US.

Alun Taylor

From the Auris and the Avensis to the Yaris and the RAV4, all of Toyota’s recent mainstream cars have been depressingly vanilla. White goods. Reliable, serviceable, capable—but as engaging as a washing machine or fridge freezer.

Read 24 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in Ars Approved, Cars Technica, Toyota | Comments (0)

Toyota’s all-new 2018 Camry tries (and may succeed) to excite

January 13th, 2017

The all-new eighth-generation Toyota Camry. (video link)

DETROIT—Several things come to mind when I think of the Toyota Camry. It’s reliable, competent, ubiquitous even; the Camry has topped sales charts for a decade and a half now. But it’s not the most exciting thing on four wheels; it’s a car that is sometimes referred to as a driving appliance. Toyota has evidently decided to do something about that perception. At the launch of the eighth-generation Camry at this year’s North American International Auto Show, the company announced the new car has gained “emotionally charged design and performance experience.”

In other words, it’s supposed to be fun to drive and has gained some needed visual flair.  According to the car’s Chief Engineer, Masato Katsumata, “In order to create something that stirs people’s soul, we’ve laid out the concept of a new sedan that provides fun and excitement behind the wheel.” The new Camry uses the same Toyota New Global Architecture platform as last year’s Prius, and it’s now lower, wider, and more sleek than the outgoing car.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in Ars Technica Videos, Cars Technica, NAIAS 2017, Toyota, Toyota Camry | Comments (0)

Concept-i is Toyota’s friendly future

January 6th, 2017

Toyota

Appearing like a large dimpled egg, the Concept-i autonomous car was unveiled by Toyota at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas as a true design concept; a canvas stitched with ideas for a warmer, more engaging, connected autonomous car of the future. Its hypothetical on-sale date is 2030, although Toyota freely admits that it has virtually no plans to put the Concept-i into production.

The most problematic trend in autonomous cars, Toyota says, is that they simply do not appeal to the touchy-feely sentiment we humans have when it comes to our emotional connection with cars. Fully autonomous concepts have thus far been cold, distant, and purgatorial, Toyota posits. No more. Toyota’s future eggmobile puts a cheeky face on the future of driving and is even fitted with Yui, a synthetic AI car butler/pal/servant who will learn your likes and dislikes behind the wheel. Just as importantly, though, the Concept-i is also drivable by humans, so you need not feel like luggage all the time.

Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in Cars Technica, concept car, concept-1, Toyota | Comments (0)

Self-driving cars won’t just log miles and road markers; they’ll be logging you

October 8th, 2016

(credit: Nauto)

A Silicon Valley company called Nauto announced a partnership with Toyota’s Research Institute, BMWi Ventures (a venture capital company founded by BMW), and insurance company Allianz Ventures to bring driver analysis to autonomous vehicles.

Nauto currently produces a $400 aftermarket camera- and sensor-equipped device that attaches to a car’s windshield to analyze driver behavior. According to Reuters, the device is part-dash cam—snapping footage and tagging “events” like accidents—and part-driver monitor—detecting possible driver distraction in the car like drinking or texting. Nauto then collects and anonymizes this information to draw conclusions about driver habits, intersections, and congestion in certain areas.

The company, which was founded just last year, has so far geared its product toward managers of commercial and passenger fleets who want more information about their drivers and the routes they take.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Posted in Allianz, BMWi, Cars Technica, Nauto, Toyota | Comments (0)