Archive for the ‘Toyota’ Category

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Virtual assembly lines are making the auto industry more flexible

September 6th, 2016

Enlarge / Last-minute design tweaks being made to a truck part at Toyota’s factory in Texas. (credit: Toyota)

Just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing has many aliases: Short-Cycle Manufacturing, Continuous-Flow Manufacturing, the Kanban System (Kanban itself being only an element of JIT manufacturing), and the Toyota Production System. That last one is in its fifties, codified and instituted at Toyota in the 1960s. The notion arrived on Western shores roughly 20 years later.

Today, manufacturers are leapfrogging the just-in-time concept and blurring lines in the digital space in which body parts, mechanical systems, and designs live before they hit the reality of metal, plastic, and glass.

At Toyota’s Texas truck plant, which builds Tacomas and Tundras, the lead engineer responsible for those products works right on the factory floor, overseeing actual production and end-of-line quality. This truck plant lives in arguably the most agile manufacturing ecosystem in the US, with the vast majority of suppliers inside the factory, building parts on an “immediately in time” basis.

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A second airbag supplier SNAFU hits Toyota, 1.4 million cars recalled

June 29th, 2016

Airbags in cars have been responsible for saving many a life, but recent news might be tarnishing that reputation. More than 100 million cars worldwide are subject to the most complex automotive recall ever thanks to defective airbags from supplier Takata.

The problem rests with whether or not the airbag uses a chemical drying agent to prevent the ammonium-nitrate propellant charge from taking on moisture. Takata airbags without the drying agent may not work properly in an accident, filling the cabin with shards of metal shrapnel as well as the airbag. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (which ordered the recall here in the US) says that 10 people have been killed and more than 100 injured as a result.

If you drive one of the affected models, you may have to wait some time before getting it replaced. Takata has until 2019 to replace all the defective airbags and may well need the time; in the process of trying to have one of our cars fixed in June under the recall notice, we were told the supply chain was empty and that 2017 was more likely. But Takata isn’t the only company having problems with prematurely exploding airbags.

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Posted in airbag, Autoliv, Cars Technica, product recall, Takata, Toyota | Comments (0)

GM, Toyota make big investments—like $1 billion big— in autonomous car startups

March 11th, 2016

This has been a big week and a big year for small autonomous vehicle startups. This morning, General Motors announced that it had purchased Cruise Automation, a Silicon Valley-based autonomous vehicle startup of 40 people that already has a permit from the California DMV to test its systems on public roads in that state. And on Wednesday, Toyota hired all 16 employees of Jaybridge Robotics, a Massachusetts-based self-driving car company.

In GM’s case, Re/code reports that anonymous sources say the American automaker spent more than $1 billion to acquire Cruise, which will remain in Silicon Valley while it works under GM’s umbrella. Cruise had previously raised $18.8 million in funding, and it recently released a $10,000 after-market system that would make an Audi A4 or S4 self-driving.

GM is hardly being under-the-radar about its self-driving car ambitions. Earlier this year, the automaker pledged $500 million to Lyft to partner with the ride-sharing company in autonomous taxi research. A few weeks later, it also bought the defunct ride-sharing service Sidecar.

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