Toyota is on a quest to come up with the most effective materials for storing energy. It needs these materials for its electric vehicles, otherwise it could take decades to come up with new products for its batteries. Unlike many companies that go through massive rounds of trials and tests to come up with new materials relying heavily on scientists, Toyota is making use of artificial intelligence and computer simulations to speed up the process. Toyota isn’t going to do all that on its own though, it will involve several universities as well as British materials company llika to come up with the necessary resources to find new materials effectively.
Making a Major Investment
Toyota believes strongly that new materials can unlock a lot of paths that the automaker wants to go down. That’s exactly why the company is investing $35 million into the team and the research that it’se conducting All that hard work could pay off nicely over time and give Toyota the technology that it needs to produce something particularly exciting.
The Next Step
In order to maximize the material options available as soon as possible, the team working with Toyota (made up of Toyota Research Institute, MIT, the University of Michigan, Stanford University as well as llika) will put together its data sources and collaborate in efforts of machine learning, artificial intelligence and computer modeling to come up with answers. Not only is the team looking for new materials to use for more effective energy storage for batteries, but it’s also looking for a new catalyst other than platinum for the Toyota hydrogen vehicles. This would make vehicles like the Mirai notably more affordable overall, and it will solve the issue of a platinum shortage that will be difficult to overcome when trying to mass-produce the Mirai.
While these efforts are still in their early stages, Toyota is hoping to use this partnership to forge new technologies over time, but it’s not expected to be a magic bullet that is going to solve all the automaker’s problems either. Computer simulation can’t solve every issue, but it can help bring together existing technologies in new ways to make exciting enhancements that the average person would have overlooked.
It’s no secret to anyone that the Toyota Prius is one of the most capable hybrid vehicles on the road today. It’s affordable, it’s stylish, it offers enough power and industry-leading fuel economy. That’s why it shouldn’t come completely as a surprise that the 2017 Prius managed to receive Canada’s Green Car of the Year award. It’s a prestigious title that’s worth celebrating, and it’s not something that’s given out to many vehicles. The title is just another reason why it makes sense to own a Prius.
What Toyota had to Say
This is what Toyota had to say about receiving the award, and it was clearly an honor for the company.
“Toyota is committed to maintaining its leadership position in designing, engineering and building environmentally-advanced vehicles that meet the many demands of today’s drivers – which is why the 2017 Prius sets new standards for efficiency and emissions even as it provides owners with more style and driving fun,” said Cyril Dimitris , Vice-President, Toyota Canada Inc. “We’re delighted that members of AJAC agree, and thank them for this important award.”
Exceptional Efficiency Fueled by Technology
The 2017 Toyota Prius is one of the most efficient hybrid vehicles to date, thanks in large part to it’s highly technical powertrain setup. It’s fitted with an efficient 1.8L four-cylinder engine on the Atkinson Cycle. The car’s equipped with a high-power electric motor, new and improved batteries and an advanced powertrain management computer that effectively doles out the power and mixes electric and gas power to make the hybrid magic happen. When everything comes together properly, the car can achieve a combined MPG rating of just over 52 MPG, an exceptional figure that’s unrivaled by other hybrids today.
Comfort and Safety
It’s the exceptional fuel efficiency of the modern-day Prius that won it the Green Award, but that’s not all that the car has to offer either. It provides enough power to avoid feeling sluggish in all driving conditions. The car comes equipped with the advanced Toyota Safety Sense P system of avoidance safety features as standard. It has a set of driving modes to give you more control over how it handles, and comes with a slew of infotainment and tech features like nav, keyless entry, push button start, full color gauges and much more.
It’s hard not to love the 2017 Prius, and it’s even improved dramatically in the looks department since the older models. It looks sportier, sleeker and more stylish than ever before.
For the most part billboards are just a waste of space. They take up a section of the earth and show off commercial pictures that you see while driving by. There is no purpose to them and it can be frustrating seeing them all over the place when something else could be there instead. That’s been the case with billboards for years, but that’s something that Toyota is changing right now with its Mirai billboard. Toyota is putting up special billboards that actually scrub pollution from the air around them. Not only do the billboards show off the new Mirai, they make the surrounding air better for everyone at the same time.
How they Work
Each of the billboards is made from titanium dioxide-coated vinyl that reacts with oxygen to convert nitrogen oxide into nitrates and take them right out of the air. It’s a passive system that requires no electricity, and it’s something that will continue to work for a long time before stopping.
The Overall Impact
Nitrogen oxide is responsible for smog, as well as acid rain. Taking it out of the air is a very good thing for the California landscape where most of the Mirai billboards are currently located. It’s estimated that the 37 billboards put up currently will remove the equivalent of 5,285 vehicles worth of Nitrogen oxide each and every month. That’s a pretty significant impact over such a small number of billboards.
The Toyota Mirai is celebrated as an environmentally-friendly vehicle because it runs on hydrogen and only emits water vapor out of its tailpipe. Now the billboards that represent that vehicle can also be touted as environmentally friendly. It’s a brilliant branding stunt, and an excellent way to take nearly useless billboards and turn them into a tool that will help improve the landscape around them. If only more companies thought like Toyota in their marketing efforts and did something environmentally friendly while building publicity for a vehicle.
The 2018 Toyota Sienna benefits from some serious updates even though it looks very similar to the 2017 model. If you’re looking for a new minivan, the 2018 model year will offer notable improvements over the 2017 model year. Here’s an overview of what you can expect from the new minivan.
Mostly the Same on the Outside
When looking at the Sienna from the outside you would almost swear that it’s the same vehicle as the 2017 model. That’s because besides for the new bumper with a larger grille and nose, none of the enhancements are visual ones. If you opt for the Sienna SE you’ll enjoy a laminated windshield. If you spring for the Limited model you’ll also get acoustic glass on both side windows up front for a quieter ride, but that’s it for exterior enhancements. The real changes come on the inside of the minivan.
A Serious Safety Upgrade
Sienna drivers can feel a whole lot safer while toting the kids around from school to soccer practice now that Toyota is making its whole safety lineup available as standard to every model of the Sienna. That means that you get things like adaptive cruise, steering assist, auto emergency brakes, lane-departure and auto high beams as standard. You won’t pay a dime for any of these enhancements, even though they will make the minivan much safer to drive around.
Another area where you’ll notice the Sienna is jumping ahead is in technology. The 2018 model will come equipped with a total of 5 USB ports, making it simple to keep all your mobile devices topped up while going down the road. It’s also going to come with a 4.2” infotainment display and the vehicle will come with Android streaming capabilities for the entertainment system as well. If you opt for the Limited version of the Sienna, you’ll also enjoy a surround camera that gives you an excellent view of your vehicle from different angles when backing up and navigating tight spaces.
Entune 3.0 is also going to come standard with each of the different trims in the Sienna. This gives you a nav system that connects through smartphone, and all the trims above the base model will come with 4G LTE and Wifi connectivity.
There’s a lot to love about the 2018 Toyota Sienna, and for tech enthusiasts it will likely be the best option out on the road for a few years. Whether you’re concerned about the safety of your family, your family relies heavily on mobile devices or you just want the enhanced media features without paying for them, the Sienna is worth a look.
Recently Microsoft has been scrambling to try and convince automakers to use its technology for connected cars. Specifically its Azure platform. The tech giant swears that the technology is ideal for connected cars and that many of the features will make a very real difference for automakers. Apparently talks with Toyota have paid off, because the automaker is working with Microsoft signing a deal to use some of the company’s patent’s for developments in the future.
No Specific Details
Currently there are no specific details about the deal between the two mammoth companies, we just know that a deal was made. It’s presumed that the deal was for connected vehicles, and it’s likely that Toyota will leverage the tech to make some piece of self-driving vehicles, or at least communicating vehicles work more effectively.
Toyota’s Push for Connected Vehicles
This is just one more indicator that’s in favor of the idea that Toyota is pushing for connected vehicles that can communicate in different ways. Toyota understands the value of cars that can talk to one another, and earlier this year expressed an interest in creating vehicles that communicate for safety purposes. That could be something that the automaker is working on with help from Microsoft.
While there is no information about the amount that Toyota agreed to pay Microsoft, or what technology the auto giant is going to be using, it’s a good sign that some sort of innovation is on the way from Toyota, and that the company is serious about taking a strong step forward toward automation, communication and other tech-focused enhancements for its vehicles.
Toyota put together a special edition of its 86 sports car, known as the Toyota 860. It’s an improved variation with nicer features, performance enhancements and some aesthetic improvements to help it really stand out. Just 860 copies of the sports car will be produced, they’ll be split between orange and white paint jobs, and they’ll be sold throughout the month of April. Below is an overview of what the special car has to offer and why it’s worth the added price tag over the base 86.
The car gets quite a few improvements all around, but there were a couple different changes to spice up its look. The first is transformed fascia at the front and rear of the vehicle. There are also restyled vents around the fenders that give a slightly more aggressive look to the front end while still supplying air to help cool the brake system. The 860 also comes with a thin spoiler at the rear, similar that was comes on the European Toyota 86. It also comes with a set of 17 wheels coated in black chrome and some LED fog lights to help modernize the look even more. Overall this special edition looks very similar to the base model, with a few nice improvements that really do stand out.
Sports Information Output
It’s clear that these special editions of the 86 are meant for driving enthusiasts, which is why they come standard with a 4.2″ display showing off sports specs like horsepower, temperatures for coolant and oil, a g-force meter and a stop watch to measure your sprints and lap times. It’s a pretty cool little package that helps the 860 standout.
The Toyota 860 comes with heated seats up front, a smaller steering wheel, leather seats, and a leather wrapped shifter and hand brake. There’s also heated mirrors to give you a nice clear view on freezing days, and there is dual-zone climate control to keep everyone comfortable during a ride. There’s also push-button start, giving it a more modern feel within.
All the tech and appearance enhancements are nice, but it wouldn’t be a sports car special edition without at least a few performance enhancements as well. The Toyota 860 comes with a handful of improvements that should help the way that it rides, making it into a more fun and reliable vehicle to take around corners at speed. It comes with an underbody panel to improve aerodynamics. The car has a stiffer chassis that responds to fast direction changes a bit more capably. It’s offered in both manual or automatic transmissions, and both are fitted with a six-speed. The manual transmission adds on 5 horsepower and the automatic comes with paddle shifters and rev management technology to give you a sporty feel when you want it and convenient handling when you don’t. Overall the Toyota 860 is a capable vehicle and it has a lot to offer compared to the stock model.
We were very happy to hear that with the sunset of the Scion brand, Toyota was still committed to bringing the C-HR to our showrooms. We had the opportunity for a ride and drive last week in Austin, Texas of the new C-HR, and we think you are going to LOVE this new small crossover.
The C-HR (Coupé-High Riding) slots in just below the RAV4 in overall size and pricing, however, it is very roomy on the inside. The C-HR will be a front-drive only crossover, no all-wheel drive is available, it is offered with a 2.0-liter four cylinder producing 144 horsepower and 139 lb/ft of torque, and this is backed by a CVT transmission with seven simulated gears.
Perhaps in the past, you have experienced a CVT transmission where you put your foot down and the engine seems to rev to a point and never go beyond? With the CVT in the C-HR, that is mostly eliminated by the seven simulated gears. You get all the fuel efficiency of a CVT, yet it feels like a standard automatic transmission, it’s the best of both worlds.
In stop and go driving, and merging onto the highway, the C-HR has plenty of power so that you don’t have to worry about merging with oncoming traffic, nor getting away from stoplights.
On the road is where the C-HR really shines. Built off the same platform as the new Prius, it has a double wishbone rear suspension and SACHS dampers at all four corners. What this means to you is a very connected feeling to the road that is firm and well controlled while maintaining a pleasant ride quality.
On the inside, the quality of materials is much better that you would expect for the price point. There are plenty of soft-touch materials around, a rear vision camera integrated into the rearview mirror, a seven-inch touch screen display with Bluetooth and USB integration, dual zone climate controls on the XLE Premium trim, and a driver’s cockpit layout that will remind you of the Lexus IS!
Toyota is putting a premium on safety with the C-HR. Included as standard on all cars is:
- Toyota Safety Sense™ P (TSS-P) – Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/SA), Automatic High Beams (AHB), and Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC)
- Electric Parking Brake (EPB)
- Star Safety SystemTM – includes Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA) and Smart Stop Technology® (SST)
- 10 airbags — includes driver and front passenger Advanced Airbag System, driver and front passenger and rear seat-mounted side airbags, driver knee airbag, front passenger seat cushion airbag, and front and rear side curtain airbags
- LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) includes lower anchors and tether anchors on
- outboard second-row seats
- Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) and Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) – XLE Premium only
- Hill-Start Assist Control (HAC)
- Tire Pressure Monitor System (TPMS). When the tire pressure drops to a critically low level, a light on the instrument panel alerts the driver.
- Child-protector rear door locks
The styling for the C-HR is a standout! It combines beautiful curves with diamond shaped angles. The more you walk around the car, the more interesting shapes you find, and they all flow together in a fun and sporty package.
In keeping with the Scion heritage, the C-HR does not have any options other than paint color. There will be two trim levels, XLE and XLE premium. Pricing for C-HR XLE will be $22,500 and for the XLE Premium $24,350, with $960 for destination and delivery on top.
Fuel economy for the C-HR is also very good for the crossover market, it is EPA-rated at 27 MPG City, 31 MPG Highway and 29 MPG Combined.
The C-HR will arrive in our showrooms in April, and we can’t wait for you to come in and take one for a drive.
In another effort to improve the planet and expand on its brand-new technology, Toyota just launched a fuel-cell bus. That’s right, the automaker put out a full-sized city bus that’s travelling around Tokyo picking people up and dropping them off. The bus is built out of components that are the same as the Mirai, it just relies on more of them to do the job. This is an exciting step for Toyota and for the planet. By getting hydrogen buses out there the company reduces fossil fuel emissions, proves that the technology is durable and reliable, and helps people become more familiar with hydrogen fuel cell technology.
Easy to Refuel
In order to demonstrate just how simple the bus is to refuel, Yuriko Koike, the Governor, showed up to put fuel into the bus. She had no issues doing so and it was ready to go after being fueled up.
Affordable to Ride
While you would have to pay around $57,000 to get your hands on the Mirai, you can get some experience with hydrogen fuel cell technology for just two Japanese dollars with this bus. That’s the fare to go for a ride on it, and you’ll get to experience one of the great future driving technologies.
Two of Everything
In order to make this beast of a machine move, Toyota had to install two of all the components into the bus, and the automaker put them into its ceiling. The fuel cell stacks, batteries and fuel tank are all mounted in the roof of the bus, leaving space down below for passengers to ride close to the ground. The two systems power two 113 kW electric motors that deliver about 310 HP together and get the bus moving around.
Already in Demand
Even though the bus was just released, there are already 100 orders pending for the buses to be used just in Tokyo. There are 60 additional orders for buses in other areas of Japan as well. That just shows the interest in hydrogen technology and it bodes well for the future of the tech as well.
The current bus is more expensive than a standard diesel bus, and it won’t last as long either. It’s expected to last about six years before requiring replacement parts which is quite a bit worse than the expected 20 years of most buses in use today. That’s something that Toyota is working on, and the automaker expects to get the cost and longevity in line with a standard diesel hybrid bus that’s in use today eventually.
There aren’t any orders from other parts of the world just yet, but Toyota looks forward to the day when it can expand hydrogen buses to other areas of the world and bring the technology to even more cities. It certainly won’t hurt the air quality efforts in other areas of the world.
Toyota is working really hard to make a name for itself for safety reasons. The automaker is already known for reliability and resale value, but a recent push toward active safety technology is making Toyota stand out for that as well. In 2018 the Toyota Tundra will be the first full-sized pickup on the market to come with automatic emergency braking as a standard feature. That means that every 2018 Tundra buyer can make use of that feature without paying any extra for it. That’s pretty darned cool.
Emergency automatic braking has been found to reduce the number of accidents around the road, according to the AEB. The tech looks out for obstacles on the road ahead and applies the brakes in order to slow the vehicle when something pops up ahead. The tech does two things. It alerts the driver that something is going on, and it starts the slow down process so the driver can safely come to a stop, or decelerate enough to avoid the obstacle.
That’s Not all There are Other Features!
The 2018 Tundra doesn’t just come with emergency automatic braking though, there are additional features too. It’s getting everything in what Toyota calls its Safety Sense-P package. This includes lane-keep assist, forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning and adaptive cruise. If you decide to get the latest Tundra, you’ll enjoy all of those added safety features as well, making it one of the safest stock pickups soon to be on the market.
Toyota is extending this technology to many of its other models as well, and it’s something you’ll find on all the 2018 Sequoia models as well.
With cool added safety features becoming the standard, it will be easier and easier to pick up a good all-around vehicle from Toyota soon enough. Safety is one of the most important features that drivers look for when making a purchase, so it makes sense to build the best safety packages right into the base vehicle and stop making cost a factor when deciding whether to be safe or not.
In Japan the Prius Prime can now come with a solar roof that helps recharge the batteries every second the car is out in direct sunlight. That means while you’re driving down the road, sitting in a parking lot, or just waiting in traffic, the car is charging up and extending its electric range. This is an enhancement that makes the Prius Prime slightly more efficient and can help boost the overall electric range so that you don’t have to rely on fuel quite as much.
The Cool Solar Roof
This solar roof is produced by Panasonic, and it’s approximately three times more efficient than the older solar roof that came on some Prius vehicles. That probably sounds like a very nice improvement, and it is, but overall the roof isn’t going to give anywhere near the power to fully rely on just the solar roof to get around. It’s curved to match up with the look of the car, it’s designed to manage heat nicely and to stand up to everyday use attached to the top of the vehicle. It’s a pretty cool tech marvel in itself, and something that will hopefully begin showing up in more hybrid vehicles over time.
Will it Make a Difference?
This upgraded roof solar setup will make a slight difference on the total overall range that you get from the Prius, but overall the panel will likely only add about 3.7 miles to the total electric range of the car. That might not sound like much, but it’s added range every time that you go out driving, and the more the car sits in the sunlight, the more the battery will charge up. If nothing else, the solar panel will help keep the battery from dying while the vehicle sits, or for powering up accessories without draining down the battery unnecessarily.
Bringing it to the U.S.
At the moment, Panasonic isn’t able to bring its solar roof to the United States and use it on the Prius Prime. That’s because the panel isn’t yet capable of passing U.S. rollover tests. That’s an issue that the company is currently working on, but there is no timeline concerning when it could potentially offer that feature to customers.