Category: Toyota

Toyota is Considering Natural Gas Fuel Cells

April 25, 2017 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , , ,

By now most people have heard of hydrogen fuel cells being used in vehicles like the Toyota Mirai to move them around the road without utilizing fossil fuels to do the job. This technology is pretty cool, and it works surprisingly well, but so far it isn’t’ all that practical on a wide-scale. That’s because hydrogen isn’t widely available just yet, and it could be quite a while before there are enough hydrogen refueling facilities to keep cars running all over the world. That’s one of the reasons that Toyota has been toying with the idea of a natural gas fuel cell instead.

Natural Gas Fuel Cell

A Natural Gas Fuel Cell

Just like the hydrogen fuel cell, a natural gas fuel cell would be used to generate electricity to drive a vehicle down the road. The main difference is that it will use natural gas rather than pure hydrogen. The natural gas would be split into hydrogen and carbon monoxide, and both substances would be used to generate electricity for the vehicle. The fuel cell stack on its own will generate electricity at around 53 percent efficiency, but by putting a heat reclaimer in the system Toyota is able to reach efficiency levels around 65 percent, which is better than its current hydrogen fuel cell.

Not as Helpful to Climate change

One of the major criticisms of this new technology is that burning natural gas is not as good for the environment as hydrogen fuel could be if it was produced using renewable resources, and that’s absolutely true. AT the moment hydrogen isn’t being produced with renewable resources though, and it’s being created with fossil fuels. In other words, relying on a natural gas fuel cell over a hydrogen fuel cell could actually be better for the environment currently. That’s because natural gas contributes less to climate change than gas or diesel fuel does. Making the switch to another fossil fuel might not seem like the right move to help mitigate climate change, but at the moment it’s a step that actually makes quite a bit of sense.

Maybe Not for Vehicle Use

While Toyota is experimenting with this new technology, at the moment it only seems like it’s destined for businesses and residential use to generate power for local energy needs. It isn’t being tested for vehicle use just yet, and it’s possible that the tech will never be used in vehicles. Even still, it’s interesting to look at different technologies and ways of doing things.

The 2017 Toyota Prius is Named the World Green Car

April 13, 2017 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , , ,

Most vehicles out on the road today aren’t considered environmentally friendly, but that’s all about to change with some help from Toyota. The automaker is hard at work developing vehicles that use less fuel and drive around while producing fewer pollutants, which is exactly why the automaker received the World Green Car title for the second year in a row. It’s a pretty major achievement, and something to be proud of.

The 2017 Toyota Prius

Choosing the Prius Prime

It wasn’t simple deciding on the Prius Prime, there were several quality options to consider when making the decision. A total of 12 different vehicles from around the world were considered. When making a decision, things like fuel consumption, tailpipe emissions and the level of technology in the engine were all considered. These considerations helped the reviewers decide which vehicle was most worth rewarding and it was a model from Toyota yet again.

During the review process, a set of 75 automotive journalists from 23 different countries were asked to come together and judge the different vehicles being considered. It was only after through research and deliberation that the Prius {rime was determined to be the most environmentally friendly production vehicle sold in 2017. It’s an exciting victory and something that Toyota is undoubtedly excited about. This is what Jack Hollis, group vice president of the Toyota division had to say about the award.

“It is a great honor to see the Prius Prime named the World Green Car,” “For global automakers like Toyota, this award is a testament to our focus on developing products that both stir the emotions and meet the mobility needs of our customers in all corners of the world. “

Two Years in a Row

In 2016 Toyota received the very same award for its Mirai hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. That just goes to show that the automaker is interested in awards and achievements and in alternative energy vehicles. The cars are both well-known for being positive changes for the environment, and that could be exactly why they both qualified for the award.

Toyota Relies on AI To Find New Battery Technology

April 7, 2017 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , , ,

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.

2017 toyota prius

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.

The 2017 Prius Receives Canada’s Green Car of the Year Award

March 30, 2017 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , , , ,

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.

2017 toyota 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.

Even Toyota Mirai Advertisements Improve the Environment

March 27, 2017 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , ,

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.

toyota air cleaning billboard

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 Sienna Receives some Very Nice Enhancements

March 23, 2017 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , , ,

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.

2017 toyota sienna

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.

Tech Improvements

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.

Toyota Borrows Microsoft Technology with Patent Purchase

March 21, 2017 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , , , ,

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.

microsoft logo

 

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 to Release Special Edition 86 with Notable Improvements

March 13, 2017 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , ,

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.

toyota 860 2017

Improved Looks

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.

Improved Comfort

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.

Performance Enhancements

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.

 

 

LAcarGUY Exclusive First Drive: 2018 Toyota C-HR

March 8, 2017 lacarguy New Cars, Toyota, Toyota of Hollywood, Toyota Santa Monica Tags: ,

2018 Toyota C-HR-6

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.

2018 Toyota C-HR-20

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.

2018 Toyota C-HR-15

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.

The Affordable Toyota Fuel Cell Bus

March 8, 2017 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , , , , ,

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.

Toyota fuel cell bus

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.

Future Improvements

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.