Are you interested in a company that not only provides exceptional products, but also operates with respect and concern for the environment? Lexus, which offers more hybrid models than any other auto manufacturer, has partnered with Scholastic to award half a million dollars in scholarships and grants to schools for sustainability education to help create a greener future.
The annual Lexus Eco Challenge encourages middle school and high school students across the nation to join teams that each choose an important environmental issue to research, and then develop and test a practical solution. One team of middle school students from Jersey City used Mesoamerican agriculture techniques to combat algae blooms in their local reservoir for their project.
The grand prize winner is awarded $30,000, while 32 finalist teams each receive prizes of $10,000 shared between the students, their teacher, and their school. The Lexus Eco Challenge is now in its 9th year, and is part of the Lexus Pursuit of Potential project, which helps provide children opportunities to learn and grow.
Most people are happy to reach 200,000 miles with their vehicle before retiring it for something else. That wasn’t the case for Victor Sheppard, the previous owner of a 2007 Toyota Tundra with more than 1 million miles on the odometer. That’s right, you read that right. The truck had more than a million miles on the clock and still drove around perfectly fine.
That figure seems to defy all logic. Most people believe they are at least halfway through the life cycle of their vehicles when they roll over 100,000 miles, and are ready to pack it in at any point thereafter. Victor Sheppard made it very clear that you can go much farther than that if you really want to, and he didn’t do it with superhuman effort either, just regular maintenance and plenty of visits to his local service department.
Traveling for Business
It’s amazing to think that Sheppard was able to accumulate more than 1 million miles in the span of just 9 years, but travelling across country for work helped him accomplish such a figure. He put more than 125,000 miles on the vehicle during each year of use until it finally reached 999,999 on the odometer. After all this travelling around Sheppard states that his “…truck looks great, and, except for a few little dents, it’s almost like new,”
With so many miles on the truck Sheppard had to head in to the service department regularly. With 117 total visits to the local service center the truck was able to remain in excellent condition and even has many of the original parts that it left the factory with.
The 1 Million Mile Reward
After travelling for 1 million miles Sheppard was thrilled with the performance of his 15th Tundra, but what he didn’t know was that Toyota was prepared to trade him a brand new 2016 model for his 1 million mile truck. They offered a straight swap deal so that he could begin racking up miles all over again on his 16th Tundra, while they take a look at the vehicle that lasted for so long to try and learn as much as possible from it.
Toyota plans on stripping down the entire truck and examining every one of its components. While doing this they will learn about which parts are still original and which have been replaced, and they will likely learn how to engineer even more long-lasting trucks in the process. It’s clear that Tundra trucks are reliable, but most people probably never imagined that one could travel for over 1 million miles without issue.
Well it’s official, the FJ Cruiser is no more from August onward. Of course the cruiser hasn’t been sold in the United States since the 2014 model year, but it has been sold in other places around the world such as Australia, where rugged vehicles get a closer following.
Built for Impressive Performance
In a market that prefers mild-mannered vehicles the FJ Cruiser stands out starkly. It was produced after the FJ40 Land Cruiser and designed to tackle most rough terrain types capably. The vehicle has always been aimed at serious off-roaders, but it appears that there aren’t enough of those around to sustain the market needed to keep producing the vehicle. That’s why Toyota stopped shipping over the vehicles back in 2014, but sales continued in Australia giving the vehicle more time to shine. It even managed to win 4×4 Australia magazine’s 4×4 of the Year title this year thanks to its robust mechanical design that stands up to hard use where others do not.
The Last of a Dying Breed
The 2014 model year cruisers in the United States are the last of the models that you can get your hands on, and they’re worth serious consideration if you want a highly rugged SUV. Like Hummers, the Land Rover Defender and a host of other off-road vehicles before them, the FJ Cruiser just couldn’t be sustained. There’s nothing against the vehicle personally, people are just more interested in ride quality and tech features than they are in a vehicle’s overall off-road capabilities. Which makes sense since so many people rarely venture off roads here in the US.
Resale Value Stays Strong
It should come as no surprise that the FJ Cruiser resale values are holding strong. There is still a dedicated market for the vehicle, though smaller than what Toyota was hoping for when it first released the vehicle. That means that even though this rugged SUV isn’t going to be produced any longer, it’s still quite expensive to purchase, and something that you’ll have to work hard to buy in the future as less become available.
Though the FJ Cruiser isn’t going to be produced any longer, it doesn’t mean you can’t still own one for yourself. There are plenty of dealerships still selling the SUV and if you look around a bit you should be able to find one hanging out in a lot nearby. They’re truly exceptional vehicles, worthy of consideration by any real off-road enthusiast.
The Toyota Avalon Hybrid is about the farthest you can get away from a high performance vehicle on paper. It’s packed with a four-cylinder engine, a CVT automatic transmission, and front wheel drive. That doesn’t stop it from being a real blast to blaze around tight corners and actual race tracks though. The Avalon is surprisingly powerful and quick, and it’s a good mix of peppy performance and real-world refinement that will satisfy most car buyers nicely.
Low End Power
The Toyota Avalon isn’t a powerhouse, but when you opt for the hybrid version you get a lot of low-end torque that you wouldn’t get with many other vehicles. That electric motor pushes out power nearly immediately and gives you an extra bit of bite that makes the Avalon feel more powerful than it should at low end speeds. This means that when you go around particularly sharp corners and other low-speed track features you can really blaze through them and feel like you’re moving quick.
Front Drive Stability
Driving enthusiasts will tell you that you want and need rear wheel drive to blaze around tracks and sharp corners. What they won’t tell you is that you actually get a great amount of stability at high speeds with front wheel drive, especially if you aren’t afraid to really stomp down on the gas pedal. Not only that, but you’ll enjoy safer driving qualities while at standard speeds while doing normal non-racing things.
One thing that the Toyota Avalon has going for it that some Porsche performance car doesn’t is that it’s sensible. You can carry around a family of four or five in the vehicle comfortably, and it’s perfectly suited to everyday tasks. That means you can tear up a back stretch of road and still get that same goofy smile on your face that you would in a sports car. The only difference is, when it’s time to go pick up the kids, to run to the grocery store to make an appointment, you can do so comfortably and inconspicuously. You won’t stand out, and you won’t have to worry about how you’re going to fit everything in that tiny Porsche.
Of course the Toyota Avalon isn’t a performance car, and it isn’t something that you should buy if you plan to race competitively, but that isn’t the point. The point is, the Toyota Avalon can be a lot of fun, and is a car that you can really push the envelope in. Sure it’s not as sexy as a $300,000 sports car, and it’s not going to break any speed records, but it’s an ideal choice for a balanced driver looking for balanced fun and function.
Pacific Porsche has long been a support of Porsche racing in the California area, now it has the great pleasure of being the official partner for the Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA Series. That means that cup drivers will gain access to special service and supply perks from the company, as well as access to personal vehicles, since many of them drive Porsche cars as their street vehicles as well. The partnership is in place for the race season throughout 2016, and could continue further on in the future as well.
Mike Sullivan Enters the Race
Mike Sullivan, the owner of LAcarGUY, has a long history with racing. He’s participated in Vintage Racing for years and the Toyota Grand Prix in Long Beach, and now plans on taking himself to the tracks to actually compete against other fellow racers in the high performance Pirelli GT3 Cup events. It’s an exciting opportunity that will allow Pacific Porsche to offer even better customer service in the future, by giving many of its lead members a taste of fast-paced professional Porsche racing.
Pacific Porsche is one of just 25 Porsche dealerships around the United States, and only one of two in the Los Angeles Area. It’s been in business since 1999, and is a highly reliable organization as proven through years of operation. LAcarGUY and Pacific Porsche in general is heavily involved in the local community and offers help to charity and important local events throughout the year.
With the partnership developed both Pacific Porsche and Competent Motorsport (the organizers of the Pirelli GT3 Cup) have something to gain. Pacific Porsche gets increased exposure and more experience with racing and taking care of racers. This can only help improve customer service and experience levels over time. Competent Motorsport gets a reliable supplier to help with important parts and exclusive inventory that isn’t easy to come by.
The Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA is on its 10th year of operation in 2016, and has seven different racing events scheduled for the 2016 season. It’s an exciting opportunity for everyone involved, and the partnership is one that could carry on for many more years in the future as well.
The 13th Annual Wine Tasting and Charity dinner is planned for Saturday June 4th, by the West Coast Sports Medicine Foundation. It’s destined to be a night of fun with excellent drinks and plenty of entertainment as well. Consider attending the event on Santa Monica blvd. and helping out a good cause in the process.
What You Get
The tasting includes seven different wines as well as a single champagne. Each is of an excellent quality and something a bit different. Throughout the night you’ll get a chance to try out each of the different drinks while learning a bit more about fine wine. Not only that but you’ll also be treated to a quality dinner from Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar.
Where and When
The event is set to take place on Saturday June, 4th at 6PM. It will be held at Lexus Santa Monica at 1501 Santa Monica Blvd. Those attending should dress in business casual attire. The event is a fun opportunity to meet with other business professionals and to enjoy a bit of entertainment as well. When you arrive you’ll benefit from valet parking so that you can go in and enjoy the event without worrying about finding a place to park.
The Live Auction
Like every year there is going to be a silent auction that gives you a chance to bid on many different exciting items while helping to fund the Team to Win charity organization. All the proceeds will go toward helping children get involved with sports, build confidence and develop a healthier lifestyle overall.
Get Your Tickets to the Event
If you’re interested in attending the event you can purchase single tickets or an entire table for your coworkers or loved ones. A single ticket is available for $295 and a full table for 10 people will set you back $2,900.
It’s sure to be an unforgettable night that you’ll want to repeat again next year. You’ll have the opportunity to enjoy good food and wine, and help out a good cause in the process. What’s not to enjoy about it?
There’s no arguing that the Toyota Mirai is a revolutionary vehicle, but such revolutionary technology comes at a cost, and that cost is about $50,000. That’s more than many car buyers are willing to spend, or can afford to spend. When the first wide-spread hydrogen fuel cell vehicle is selling for so much money, it keeps most people from being able to take advantage of the technology. Toyota is working to refine the technology that the Mirai relies on, to create a smaller, more affordable version for 2019.
Does that Mean a New Model or Mirai?
At the moment it’s unclear if Toyota means to create another hydrogen fuel cell model to compete alongside the Mirai, or to just further refine the Mirai and stop offering the original once the new and lest costly version is released.
A More Affordable Hydrogen Car By 2020
Toyota is the sponsor of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games, and it would be the perfect stage to present an all-new hydrogen fuel cell vehicle to the masses. With billions of viewers tuning in from around the world, there is literally no better way to get word out about the vehicle, and that’s why Toyota plans on having the vehicle completed before the Olympics.
A Lagging Infrastructure
Hydrogen fuel cell technology is being supported in just a few locations around the world, with Japan being the most enthusiastic proponent of the technology. There are currently around 80 refueling stations in Japan, and somewhere around 11 stations in California. Both of those figures need to go up dramatically for the Mirai to be the massive success that Toyota expects it to be with more than 30,000 models sold by 2020 in the US (around 210 have been sold in the US currently). There are plans for an additional 12 stations within California, and plans to put others up around the United States in large metropolitan areas.
If Toyota is able to get the cost of the Mirai down, much like the automaker did when it released the Prius c, more buyers will be willing to take the risk and buy a vehicle created from such new technology. It’s what Toyota is counting on, and it could be just the thing they need to really get that technology out there to the masses. It’s an exciting time to be a vehicle owner, and it’s likely that some pretty major innovations will be released by Toyota in the near future.
At the 37th Vienna Motor Symposium, Porsche was present showing off a brand-new V8 engine, that promises increased power and improved efficiency all in one. It’s a powerful package that produces up to 550HP and 568 lb.-ft. of torque for high performance use. The engine relies on two sets of twin scroll turbochargers to achieve such levels of power, and is quite unique to Porsche.
An Efficient Engine
Even though the new V8 packs a whopping punch, it’s also better for the environment. This engine emits less CO2 emissions than most of its size, and it benefits from an improved level of fuel economy over older models. In short it’s faster and more efficient overall than comparable engines are. The engine manages such high levels of efficiency thanks to the use of two twin scroll turbochargers. While they add a slight amount of turbo lag into the mix, the performance of this engine is likely to be very impressive on and off the track.
Plans for the Engine
Porsche plans to rely on this V8 engine in a few of its road-going vehicles. The top-end Porsche Panamera performance edition, as well as the Porsche Cayenne are likely to rely on this engine to move around. It’s likely that it will be used in additional models as well, and that other Porsche vehicles that haven’t already will begin relying on turbochargers just as heavily as this engine does.
Compatible with Audi
There is a rumor that this latest engine from Porsche is actually compatible with the Audi MLB platform as well. That’s because it’s supposed to be related to the Audi 3.0 liter V6 designed for use in longitudinal applications. This means that the latest engine from Porsche could be used in Audi vehicles as well as Porsche models, and it wouldn’t be unheard of for Porsche to allow this to happen in the future.
The Porsche Panamera should be one of the first vehicles to benefit from this new and improved V8, but it will also be one of the first vehicles to make use of the Porsche MSB platform that’s being shared between several luxury automakers like Audi, Porsche and Bentley. As Porsche continues to try to become more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly, it shouldn’t be surprising to see more changes like their latest V8 occurring. Turbo-charged engines is the way of the future, and something that stricter regulations are nearly forcing in place, though they are a remarkable solution for maintain power while improving efficiency levels.
Last month the annual Sustainable Business Council Industry Achievement Awards were held, and a collection of industry leaders and environment activists were celebrated in the process. Moby, Dr. Bronner’s and Rose Marcario the CEO or Patagonia Inc. were all recognized at the event as leaders of the sustainable business effort and real helpful forces driving environmental concerns forward.
A Large Showing
There were more than 400 people that attended the April 19th event. It was held in the Lexus Santa Monica building over on Santa Monica Boulevard, the Italian Villa styled building making the ideal location for such a special occasion.
What the Awards Mean
Awards are given by the Sustainable Business Council only to companies that helped to improve sustainability in a noticeable way. Dr. Bronner’s, Rose Marcario and Moby all helped to improve industry sustainability remarkably, a worthy goal when you consider that much of the world’s pollution results from businesses and industries.
Offering Recognition Where it’s Due
Each year businesses are split up into six different award categories and dealt with separately. Among those six different categories there was a total of 70 different finalists that each made a difference for the environment and made things a bit more sustainable. Local Roots, an indoor vertical farming company managed to come out on top of the Seedling Small Business Award, as a company with less than $100,000 in revenue throughout 2015. Other notable finalists were Everblaze, the solar company based out of Santa Monica, Newlight Technologies, a company that creates plastics from detrimental methane emissions, and L.A. Kitchen, a non-profit organization that strives to reduce food waste while training ex-prisoners and former foster children for a career in food.
A Night of Fun
Not only were the Industry Achievement Awards about recognizing all the great strides that industry has made toward more sustainability, but also about having a good time and making connections with others. As people arrived they were interviewed by Marci Zaroff on the “green carpet”. A group of women modeled a collection of outfits designed by LA Relaxed and composed entirely from recycled materials. There was good food and plenty of entertainment to go around, and the increased number of finalists shows that more businesses are becoming environmentally conscious and trying to make a difference.
If you’re looking for a way to get a smaller trailer from one place to another, you might not need to pick up a truck or SUV after all. The compact 2016 Toyota Prius is engineered to handle the task just fine, that is as long as you don’t plan to tow more than 1,600 lbs.
Helping the Prius Tackle Towing
Toyota hasn’t stated why it decided to make the Prius a capable tower, but the automaker did take a moment to explain how the feat was accomplished. The 2016 Prius comes with sophisticated heat management systems that allow the electric motor and the differential to handle a bit more pressure that towing puts on it. In other words, the drive system of the Prius isn’t going to overheat and experience problems by towing up to 1,600 lbs. You can’t exceed this amount though, even if the trailer has built-in brakes, because that’s too much strain on the Prius.
Only Available in Certain Markets
This towing capability isn’t available in every market that you’ll find the 2016 Prius, but it’s more prevalent than you might expect. If you’re planning on buying a Prius, make sure that you ask about the vehicles towing capabilities and whether you can have a hitch and trailer wiring added on or not. Many dealerships should be able to help you find a Prius that is up to the task and already set up with a hitch for you. Even if you don’t get a dealership to help you out, there’s a good chance you can find a garage that can set you up with the hitch and wiring anyway.
Move that Pop Up Camper
Whether you have a compact lumber trailer, you want to move an ATV or just pull around a small pop up for your next camping trip, you can do it all with the Prius. That’s pretty exciting if you don’t like the idea of picking up another vehicle just to do some very minor towing, and it makes the highly efficient hybrid just a bit more versatile. There are plenty of smaller pop up campers that stay under this weight limit for comfortable camping with your little efficient Prius.
If you need a light-duty towing vehicle, you might be able to handle the task with a 2016 Prius. It seems absurd, but it’s pretty cool.