According to Alix Partners Toyota is the Most Likely to be a Tech Innovator in the Future

July 6, 2015 lacarguy Uncategorized Tags: , , ,

While other automotive manufacturers like Audi and Jaguar seem like they’re leading the industry when it comes to cutting edge technology, a recent study put together by Alix Partners shows that Toyota will likely be leading the pack in the coming years. The company took the time to study each of the automakers for their ability to produce new and exciting technology, and it should come as a surprise to nobody that Toyota was at the top of the list.

A technical view of the Prius hybrid system
A technical view of the Prius hybrid system

Why Toyota?

The study essentially says that Toyota can do anything they like with technology because they have the most money and they are worth more than most other automakers out there today. That means they can pay the extra money for research and development. They can take risks on new and exciting products, the Mirai for example, that other automakers would be scared to risk money on. Toyota has long been a risk taker in the market even though the automaker makes some of the safest cars in the industry, and that’s why they will likely release some of the most exciting technology available on the market in the coming years. All those safe cars that outsell the competitors gives Toyota the space it needs to release more futuristic and exciting concepts.

Toyota Can Do Their Own Thing

The Mirai is a perfect example of Toyota doing its own thing. Even though Honda already tried and failed to release a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, Toyota decided to develop and release one of its own. It did this before any other automakers made the technology mainstream and the car company is dedicating a great amount of money and time to make the technology work now that it’s been released. Toyota will decide what it believes the best course is in the future and go with it. The automaker doesn’t really have to wait for anyone else to pioneer an industry and it can pick projects that it wants to work on.

Just a few weeks ago Toyota decided to start selling off Model AA shares to investors only in Japan. Even though foreign investors were outraged by the restrictions, the company made a conscious decision to start generating income through shares that will only rely on the yen. This means that the automaker doesn’t have to worry about market turbulence and problems with price fluctuations over time. It was the smart thing to do, and it only proves further that the automaker with the most money can make the rules as it goes. Toyota is going to make some exciting products in the future. Some the public will love, others they will hate, but the company will do just fine regardless, and that’s why Toyota can continue to innovate and take gambles on projects that it’s excited about because the automaker has more than enough money to remain in business through it all.

Toyota Upgrades its Crash Test Software

July 4, 2015 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , , , , ,

If you still think that most of the crash testing is done using real crash dummies you are sadly mistaken. Many automotive manufacturers today rely on virtual software to do the majority of their in-house crash testing. The software simulates the vehicle, the testing situation and what would happen to the virtual dummy. While the software doesn’t sound too accurate, it actually provides very realistic results and it’s highly affordable. Toyota recently began making major use of an upgrade to the software that they rely on to make their testing predictions even more accurate overall.

THUMS version 5

Improving Unrealistic Software

Most crash test software assumes that the driver and the passengers of a vehicle will be limp when they crash. Many times this isn’t the case at all. When the driver realizes that a vehicle is about to crash he will tense his muscles and prepare for impact. This is the same thing that most passengers do as well. While it’s possible some riders will be limp at the time of impact, most of the time the muscles will be taught and result in a whole different set of injuries than limp people would suffer.  To improve the software Toyota modified it to make the virtual dummies react by tightening up their muscles just before impact.

The New Software

The original software could only analyze what would happen with a change in posture after an accident. The new software can also change the human’s posture before an accident to evaluate a range of possible crash instances. The software makes it possible to see more potential problems that will occur during an accident and to make vehicles safer as a result. The new technology enables a new muscle model that makes all of this information available and the new testing possible in the first place.

This same software is used by several automakers and parts manufacturers. With the latest upgrade to the tech automobiles should become safer in the future and injuries during accidents should end up being more minor than they currently are. The new changes that will occur from this technology are hard to predict, but you should expect more capable Toyota vehicles in the future that have safety features designed to protect a wide range of passengers.

The software improvements won’t stop any of the physical testing that’s performed on Toyota vehicles. It will simply provide designers and engineers a new perspective on how to make the vehicles safer than they already are. Improving a design that already works very well is difficult, but with improved tools like this testing software it’s quite possible to do.

A Look at the 2015 Boxster Spyder

July 4, 2015 lacarguy Porsche Tags: , , , ,

Porsche released the 2015 Boxster Spyder and it’s a glorious site. This rare car looks classier and sportier than ever, and it’s something that will stand out on any road. Even if you don’t appreciate the classy shape the car’s been given it’s hard to not appreciate all of the performance and handling updates that the Spyder has. It drives faster and more effectively than ever before, and it’s a blast to ride around in.

2015 porsche boxster spyder

Manually Remove the Roof

Unlike some other convertibles on the market you have to manually remove the roof of this Porsche, but it’s a quick and satisfying affair. You simply press a button on the center console and then you detach each of the end fins on the rear lid and clip them back into place. Finally you open up the rear lid and store the roof into place. It’s very simple and can be done in just a few moments after you master the movements.

Manual Gearbox

In a world where automatic transmissions have become the norm, and you barely have to try to drive down the road it’s refreshing to have to shift to get a car moving. The folks at Porsche know how much enthusiasts still enjoy shifting their vehicles and that’s why the 2015 Boxster Spyder is only available in a six speed manual transmission. Driving it is a visceral experience that will make you actively consider each decision that you make and will put you in the heat of the moment. It’s an enthusiasts dream and this car is the kind that you want to take for a drive when you’re interested in enjoying the experience more than getting to the destination.

The New Spyder is Looking Trim

The latest Spyder is of course lighter than its predecessor. If there’s one thing Porsche is good about it’s creating cars that get progressively lighter with time. The car cuts roughly 65 pounds over the old model, not a major cutback, but when you consider how light the last Boxster Spyder was it’s still impressive.

Handling Improvements

The Spyder received a bunch of handling modifications designed to make it drive more effectively than ever before. It’s got wider wheels at around 10.5 in in width and it’s a whole 20mm lower to the ground. The vehicle benefits from torque vectoring and a mechanical differential to give it a more intense feel while driving. The car has a massive set of brakes that slow it down smoothly, and more importantly, very quickly.

At around $94,000 this car is far from a bargain, but it’s still worth considering if you want a rare convertible that’s not going to be gliding around every road in your hometown. It’s supremely lightweight, it handles superbly and it’s just a blast to drive around. You’ll have a hard time convincing anyone that it’s a good long-term investment, but the Spyder might just be your next favorite purchase.

 

Help the Friends of Hollywood Central Park Win 25k and Kickoff the Park Project

July 3, 2015 lacarguy Hollywood Central Park Tags: , , , , ,

Each year Wells Fargo gives out a $25,000 prize to a business that wins the Wells Fargo Works for Small Business competition. In order to enter into this competition each of the businesses have to submit more information about what they’re trying to achieve and wait to be approved for the contest.

deck park advisors

The Friends of Hollywood Central Park made it through the first round and was chosen for consideration of the prize money. The organization is pushing their Deck Park Advisors business in this competition and if accepted will be able to start a successful business that will help fund the future park project.

Deck Park Advisors

The Deck Park Advisors business is dedicated to helping other cities and towns around the world figure out how to create more park space above existing freeways and roadways. The business will begin a consulting company and the money earned by their efforts will funnel into the Hollywood Central Park project. If the company gets the funding it needs to get off the ground, it could provide a good portion of the money needed to make the Hollywood Central Park possible

Helping them Win

While most of the score that each entrant receives will come from a panel of judges put in place by Wells Fargo, there is a public voting portion that will serve as a tie-breaker for the different entrants. To help make sure that the Deck Park Advisors have the best possible chance of succeeding it’s important that people visit the judging site here and vote for the project. You vote by pressing the “Vote For This” button, and each person is able to vote for the project once a day. If enough people vote for the project regularly the business will have a better chance of succeeding and could be just the thing that the Hollywood Central Park needs to get going for real.

Learn About the Winner

Wells Fargo won’t announce the winner of the contest until September. That’s when the company announces the finalists for the project as well as the Grand Prize winners. If you would like to see whether the contest develops into a big win for the Friends of Hollywood Central Park or not, keep an eye on the Wells Fargo website, as well as the Hollywood Central Park site for an update.

If you want to do something to help the project, visit this website and place a vote today and every other day that you remember to visit!

Volkswagen Shows Renewable Diesel is Possible

July 1, 2015 lacarguy Volkswagen Tags: , , , ,

Some three years ago Volkswagen announced that it would start testing out the viability of clean diesel fuel in its vehicles. Well now that most people forget the automaker ever said it in the first place they have their test results back and are happy to say that clean diesel works just as well as crude-oil based diesel does. The testing period took the vehicles over standard roadways throughout the country and really put the fuel to the test. It was a pretty extensive period for these vehicles, but through all the regular driving the automaker has a bunch of new information about the technology now.

2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI
2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI

The Test

To test out the fuel technology Volkswagen ran a 2012 Jetta TDI and a Passat TDI of the same year. The two cars relied on the clean diesel fuel for a total of 134,000 miles on standard roadways. The technology wasn’t tested on tracks, but actual roads and highways around the country for more realistic results. Through all of the tests performed on the vehicle after the long-term driving both vehicles appeared to be quite normal.

The tests show that renewable diesel fuels could be used to power all the diesel vehicles currently driving around. Volkswagen stated that there were no engine problems throughout the test period and no signs of any abnormal wear either. The company is doing further tests on the two vehicles and making notes of any changes that could be made to future Volkswagen models to help ensure that they work well with clean diesel fuels.

Cutting Carbon Emissions

While it would be false to say that the diesel fuel doesn’t release any carbon emissions, it does have a significantly smaller carbon footprint than standard diesel fuel does. When the vehicles rely on this new form of diesel they emit around 50 percent of the carbon emissions that standard diesel fuel emits. That means if every driver were to switch to this fuel technology carbon emissions could be cut down dramatically.

More about the Fuels

The fuels used in the test vehicles aren’t commercially available yet and they are advanced solutions developed by companies Amyris and Solazyme. Instead of crude oil, Amyris relies on sugar plants to create the fuel it needs making it into a renewable resource that could be produced in the future even if crude oil is no longer available.

The test results show just how far clean diesel fuels have come in the last decade. They went from being a concept to actually being a real fuel source that could be relied upon to keep vehicles moving around the road without generating nearly as many harmful emissions. This fuel won’t solve our CO2 emission problems but it will offer a renewable source of fuel and would help cut down on emissions at the same time, and apparently it runs quite well in your everyday Volkswagen TDI vehicle.

Lexus Owners Enjoy some of the Best Customer Service in the Industry

June 29, 2015 lacarguy Lexus Tags: , , , ,

If there’s anything that you want your automaker to be known for its good customer service. After all, the next time you have a problem with your vehicle and you need somebody to help you out, the level of customer service at your local dealership is going to make all the difference. When you shop for a vehicle things like pricing, value and reliability matter, but if you get those things without good customer service you’re sacrificing quite a bit. Fortunately for Lexus owners they can have it all.

2015 lexus gs

What Customer Service Means

Top level customer service means that you’ll get the help you need quickly, and the dealership will do everything it can to make you comfortable during the process. The good dealerships have comfortable amenities and they focus on the repairs and services on your vehicle that will keep it running properly and prevent more expensive procedures later on.

Ranking for Top Service Satisfaction

A 2013 study performed by the J.D. Power ranked Lexus as one of the top brands for customer service in the automotive industry. In general Lexus customers were more satisfied with their treatment at dealerships than most other automotive owners in the industry. This could be because the dealerships are outfitted to maximize comfort and enjoyment while waiting for a service to be complete, but we doubt that’s all there is to it.

The real reason that customers are so happy with Lexus customers service is because the representatives genuinely seem to care about the customers and what happens to them. They want to make sure that your vehicle is fixed up properly and they aren’t looking to charge you for work that doesn’t need to be performed.

A Strong Focus on Maintenance above All Else

Customers are satisfied because they have to rely on repairs for less often than other automotive owners do. Lexus focuses heavily on maintenance and tries to shy away from doing repairs that could have been prevented in the first place. This is a win-win situation for dealerships and Lexus owners. By getting vehicles in for maintenance regularly and avoiding repairs owners save money, and Lexus becomes an even more reliable brand that is known for outlasting the competition.

Improved customer Retention

There’s a reason that Lexus is able to sell their models year after year and a large part of that is because they have some of the most loyal customers in the industry. The real benefit to Lexus for their excellent customer service is a high degree of loyalty from their customers. They will go out and buy another Lexus vehicle time and time again to be able to continue enjoying the excellent customer service. Even Lexus owners who decide to stray to another brand are pretty likely to go back again when they experience the poor customer service that other automakers are offering.

If you value customer service and want to go to a dealership where you’ll be treated right and really taken care of then Lexus is the brand for you. Their actions over the years have given Lexus a title as a top automaker for customer service, and that’s a reputation that isn’t likely to go away anytime soon.

 

Audi Plans Several Advanced Variations for its Upcoming Q6 Crossover

June 26, 2015 lacarguy Audi Tags: , , ,

Audi is planning on adding a range of technology to its Q6 crossover. The automaker has been working hard on both hybrid and fuel cell technology and all that hard work is coming to the forefront in this new model. Whether you’ve wanted a vehicle that you can plug into the wall when you aren’t driving it, or a car that runs on hydrogen, you should be able to get it by 2018 from Audi.

2016 audi q6

The Full Electric Q6

Audi plans on showing off a plug-in full electric version of the Q6 at the Frankfurt Auto show and then they plan on releasing that vehicle to the public in 2018. There isn’t much information about the new electric vehicle, but Audi plans on delivering a 300 mile or greater range with the built-in batteries of the vehicle. That would make it competitive with upcoming Tesla offerings, but will the technology still be viable in a couple years from now? It’s possible that as technology evolves and range expectations rise Audi will modify the Q6 into something more impressive if ranges increase enough between now and 2018.

The Other Variations

While there isn’t much information known about the full electric version of the Audi Q6, there is even less information out there about the fuel cell or plug-in hybrid variations. The fuel cell model will likely build on the same technology used in the Toyota Mirai, and the plug-in hybrid will probably rely on similar components to what the full electric is using. Each of these models will be released after the battery-electric Q6 is released to the public sometime in 2018, but there is no official timeline for them.

If you’re interested in getting your hands on any of this new technology with an Audi badge on it you’re first option will be an all-electric vehicle designed to rival the Tesla X. In just a couple years it should be released to the public and should be an impressive piece of machinery. Audi isn’t exactly on the cutting edge with this particular technology, but sometimes it’s best to not be the first out with new tech. It gives the automaker a chance to refine different parts of the vehicle and improve upon the current concepts. The Q6 is likely to be a full electric vehicle that more people want to own, and will help bring the technology into the mainstream more.

Learn More About the Revolutionary Toyota Mirai at this SBC Event

June 24, 2015 lacarguy Sustainable Business Council Tags: , , , ,

The Toyota Mirai is arguably an even more revolutionary technology than the Prius was when it was first released all those years ago. If you’re at all curious about the new technology and you want to see the vehicle first hand now’s your opportunity! This SBC Member Mentor session is all about introducing the Toyota Mirai and learning what it can do for the environment. It’s an exciting new piece of technology and could be a major turning point for the automotive industry. Not only is the session good to learn about the new technology, but it will serve as a valuable networking opportunity to get you in touch with other members of the SBC as well.

Manager of the Environment at LAcarGUY
Manager of the Environment at LAcarGUY

Where and When

The event is scheduled to take place on Thursday July 23rd. It will start at 12:00PM and conclude at 1:30PM. It’s going to be located at Lexus Santa Monica at 1501 Santa Monica Blvd.

Get To Know New Professionals

If you’re interested in getting to know other sustainable business owners and associates in your area the presentation is a good opportunity to do some serious networking. The first 15 minutes of the event will be spent networking with the other members attending. This gives you a chance to meet up with new people and ask any questions that you have. Expand your current network and get in touch with other professionals who can help your business grow and develop.

Get an Introduction to the Mirai

A quick 20 minute presentation from Alisha Auringer, the Manager of the Environment at LAcarGUY will help you understand more about the Toyota Mirai and how it works. You’ll get a look at the tech that drives this unique vehicle and soon you’ll have a much better understanding of how a car can drive around with nothing but hydrogen in the tank.

Build Your Understanding

After you learn all the new information abut the Mira you’re likely to have some questions. That’s why there is another 20 minute sessions for questions and comments after the initial presentation. You can ask more about the car, or learn more from the questions that other people ask.

Get Your First Look at the Mirai

If you’ve been waiting to get an up-close look at the new Mirai now’s your chance. The last half hour of the Mentor session will be spent taking a closer look at an actual Mirai and possibly giving out test drives as well. Get a look at the technology that is powering this revolutionary new vehicle and you can start to develop some new ideas around introducing this vehicle to customers.

RSVP Now

If you’re interested in attending this mentoring event you can easily RSVP for it here. The event is scheduled to take place on Thursday, July 23rd. Sign up now to make sure you have a spot.

If you are considering attending the event and you aren’t a SBC (Sustainable Business Council of Los Angeles) member yet, you can learn more about it and join up here. It’s a great opportunity and will give you a chance to connect with other like-minded business owners in the area.

Toyota Recently Showed Off Two Electric Concept Cars

June 23, 2015 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , ,

It seems that Toyota is developing a set of small urban electric vehicles for the United States, and they recently held a press event for members of the media to get together and test the new vehicles out. The location was the American Airlines Center, and Toyota set out the i-Road and Toyota Coms electric vehicles for press to try out.

toyota i-road concept

The i-Road Concept

The Toyota i-Road concept is an interesting mix of scooter and car. It sits on three wheels and is compact enough to wrap around a single person closely. The car hits a max speed of 35 miles per hour and leans with you as it corners. The leaning feature occurs with one wheel descending down toward the ground more than the other. This tips the car and helps it avoid tipping over in the same way that a motorcycle avoids tipping around sharp turns. According to a member from Toyota the concept is incapable of tipping over even at top speeds. It’s a fun little vehicle that really lets you feel the speed as you travel around, but more importantly it’s quite easy to drive around.

toyota coms concept

The Toyota Coms

The Coms has a more traditional car look. Sure it’s only got a single seat that’s positioned in the center, but it has four wheels and doesn’t do any crazy leaning around corners. It’s designed for simplicity and only has minimal controls. This little vehicle has enough seating for a single person and a small amount of storage at the back as well. It’s an ideal solution for commuting short distances to work, or even for doing something like delivering pizzas.

Toyota hasn’t put either of the models up for sale yet and isn’t even sure when it will release them to the public, how much they will be priced for or what category they will be listed in. The automaker hopes to use them as a solution for clearing up urban congestion. Switching these pint-sized vehicles out for the full-sized cars on the road would certainly clear up some space in clogged up cities, but everyone could still enjoy quick and convenient transportation. For all the people who don’t carpool this seems like an ideal transportation solution.

The vehicles are currently being used as part of a car-sharing program in France, and the company plans on releasing them in an open road policy in Japan in July. Hopefully they catch on and start showing up in cities around the United States, there a real solution to a serious congestion problem that would also help cut emissions and pollution overall.

 

Toyota Comes Out with Two Improved GD Turbo Diesel Engines

June 21, 2015 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , , , , ,

With diesel engines becoming more popular in the United States each year you might be interested to hear that Toyota produced a new batch of highly efficient turbo diesel engines. This pair of engines is much more efficient than the old ones. They are also cleaner and produce more torque to make them pretty desirable for a range of uses.

toyota gd turbo diesel

Reduced Emissions

This new diesel engine is designed to cut 99 percent of the nitrogen oxide from the emissions to help reduce pollution noticeably. It does this through Toyota’s Urea Selective Catalytic Reduction System. The system is highly efficient and cleaning up the emissions from the diesel engine and is only used on this new engine.

More Power and Efficiency

Both of the new turbo-diesel engines released by Toyota have somewhat lackluster horsepower outputs, but that doesn’t matter. Even though horsepower is around the same, or even a bit lower, torque figures are higher than ever in this more fuel-efficient engine. This is all thanks to Toyota’s use of Thermo Swing Wall insulation in the engines. It makes them 15 percent more efficient and boosts torque by 25 percent.

The Details

Toyota released two new engines, a 2.4 liter and a 2.8 liter. The 2.4 liter is 148HP and provides a whopping 295 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,600 to 3,400 RPM. The bigger engine is said to be the most thermally efficient ever produced and it offers 175 HP and 332 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,600 to 2,400 RPMs. The 2.8 liter engine is one of the available options on the new Hilux pickup truck over in Thailand, and it’s likely to show up as an option on a range of powerful Toyota vehicles.

Toyota made several other changes to their new engines to boost efficiency figures even further. The turbocharger used is a high-efficiency variable geometry system that’s 30 percent smaller than its equivalent currently being used. The pistons in the engine are made from a mix of silica and aluminum to allow heating and cooling more easily and boost efficiency that way.

Overall the new engine options should offer impressive efficiency boosts. They aren’t powerful enough to drive some of Toyota’s largest vehicles, but for its lightweight or commercial applications the engines will work wonderfully. They are expected to phase out the current line of diesels throughout 2016 and will be released in 90 different countries around the world.