Category: Toyota

Toyota Confirms Prius Plug-In's Eligibility for an Additional State of California Consumer Incentive and Its EPA Mileage Rating

February 27, 2012 lacarguy Electric Vehicle Extended Range, Toyota Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

As the 2012 Prius Plug-in models begin to arrive at Toyota Santa Monica and Toyota Hollywood, Toyota Motor Sales, Inc. announces that it has been approved for the State of California’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Program (CVRP).

Designed to promote the use of Zero Emissions Vehicles (ZEV) and related clean vehicle technologies, the CVRP is a consumer incentive made available in addition to the $2,500 Federal Tax credit¹ offered for qualified vehicles (more information available at: http://www.irs.gov/businesses/article/0,,id=219867,00.html). The 2012 Prius Plug-in also offers consumers eligibility for the State of California’s HOV lane sticker (information found here).

The CVRP program offers rebates to individuals, business owners, non-profit groups, and government entities that purchase or lease new eligible zero-emission or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Under this program, the Prius Plug-in is eligible for a $1,500 rebate that will be provided to consumers on a first come first-served basis. These grants are available when a vehicle is either purchased or leased for 36 months or longer. The CVRP is funded by the California Air Resources Board (ARB). Additional information about the CVRP incentive and application resources can be found on the EnergyCenter.org website.

The first-ever Prius Plug-in Hybrid, combines the benefits of the third-generation Prius Liftback’s Hybrid Synergy Drive with a dedicated electric driving (EV) capability, in a package that is priced more competitively than most currently available plug-in hybrids or pure Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV). The Prius Plug-injoins the Prius Family, which includes the third-generation Prius Liftback, the versatile new Prius v and the all-new subcompact Prius c, which will be available in March of 2012. The Prius Plug-in features a new Lithium-ion battery, which boosts its overall fuel economy and offers convenient charging times of only 2.5-3 hours using a standard 120V outlet or 1.5 hours using 240V.

While in EV Mode, the Prius Plug-in is rated by the EPA to drive up to 11 miles. It’s also capable of traveling up to 62 mph using electric power alone. During EV Mode driving, the Prius Plug-in is rated at 95MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent). In hybrid mode, it has an EPA combined mileage rating of 50 mpg. This means that when the EV Mode is depleted, Prius Plug-in still obtains the same estimated high fuel economy rating as Prius Liftback. With its Lithium-ion power and extended electric vehicle mode, the Prius Plug-in is EPA-rated for a total driving range of 540 miles.

It will be available in two models, the Prius Plug-in and the Prius Plug-in Advanced. The Prius Plug-in Hybrid model comes equipped with an abundance of standard features including LED Daytime Running Lights, Smart Key on three doors, Display Audio with Navigation and Entune™ with integrated backup camera, Touch Tracer Display, heated front seats, Remote Climate (A/C only), EV/ECO/POWER modes, unique15-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels, enhanced Multi-information Display and much more.

The Prius Plug-in Advanced model adds additional standard features including Premium HDD Navigation with Entune™ and JBL® GreenEdge™, Plug-in Hybrid Applications through a user’s smartphone (Charge Management, Remote Climate, Vehicle Finder, Charging Station Map², and ECO Dashboard²), Head-up Display, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Pre-Collision System, LED headlamps with auto on/off feature and integrated fog lamps, SofTex-trimmed seating, an eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat, Safety Connect and more.

The base MSRP for the Prius Plug-in Hybrid is $32,000. The Prius Plug-in Hybrid Advanced has an MSRP of $39,525. Both Prius Plug-in models are eligible for up to $4,000 worth of government-supported consumer incentives ($2,500 federal tax credit¹ and $1500 worth of the State of California’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Program), in addition to offering eligibility for California’s High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane sticker.

First Drive: Toyota Prius c

February 23, 2012 lacarguy Green Auto Technology, High MPG Vehicles, Hybrid Vehicles, Prius c, Toyota Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

It’s been twelve years since the Toyota Prius first came on to the American stage. Thought of as a science experiment then, and in many ways it was, now in it’s third generation the Prius Liftback IS the face of Toyota.

While the hybrid and plugin electric market may only be 2.5% of all vehicle sales in the U.S., the Prius accounts for more than 50% of those sales. The most shocking statistic is that 96% of all Prius’ sold, are still on the road today. Looking to expand the sales of the Prius, Toyota have expanded the sub-brand of Prius into four models, with the goal of the Prius family of vehicles surpassing Camry in sales.

The first expansion of the Prius family was the v, not quite a crossover, yet more than a wagon, it was Toyota’s move to get growing and active families more space to fit their lifestyle without compromising fuel economy or the integrity of the Prius name. The Plugin Prius will be the current Liftback model that will have the ability to drive 15 miles on pure electric, then revert back to a standard Prius Hybrid once the charge has been depleted. The last component is the source of our review, and that is the Prius c. It is a B-segment car, which will be competing against the likes of Toyota’s own Yaris and iQ, along with the Mazda2, Ford Fiesta, Chevy Spark, Honda Fit, Nissan Versa, Kia Rio and Hyundai Accent.

Powering the Prius c is an updated version of the venerable 1.5 liter inline four cylinder engine. It has been updated to improve efficiency with lighter weight valve springs, lighter tension weight piston rings along with a few other items like the elimination of an accessory belt so now that the power steering, air conditioning and water pump are all driven via electric motors to reduce drag and friction and improve fuel economy. This is paired with a Ni-MH battery pack that is about 2/3rds the size of the one found in the Liftback, which provides an additional 25.9 horsepower to the 73 horsepower engine. The transaxle in the Prius c is an all electric unit that has no belts.

Fuel economy is the raison d’etre in the Prius family and the Prius c will deliver that in spades. Rated by the EPA 53 city, 46 highway and 50 combined. We had the opportunity to drive for a short 25 mile loop that was an equal mix of surface roads and highway. On the surface roads we pulled down 63.5 mpg without really making an effort to maximize fuel economy, and at the end of the loop we had a combined 54.7 mpg, and that was while driving highway speeds of 70-75 mph. Keeping with the rest if the Prius family, the c also has start/stop technology, so that the car is running only when it needs to when stopped in traffic. If you are in stop and go driving, this is an excellent way to save a few extras drops of fuel.

Lest you think this B-segment car is cramped inside, it is not. Front seat passengers have plenty of room, no fear of rubbing shoulders with your passenger. For back seat passengers, two normal sized adults will be able to ride comfortably. We had the drivers seat set for us at 5’11”, then jumped in the back seat behind and were able to get in and out with no problem, and our knees were not touching the back of the driver seat either.

The rear seats do fold in a 60/40 arrangement allowing for good load flexibility, bicycles and snowboards will have no problem fitting inside. With the seats up there is 17.1 cubic feet of space in the hatch area, which should be more than enough room for day to day items, or runs to the grocery store.

In the upper trim levels Toyota have made Softex synthetic leather an option. Listening to their consumers, Toyota have eliminated the use of natural leather in the Prius family of cars. The Softext in our test car, was comfortable, had a quality feel to it, and was grippy so that we did not slide around in the seat.

There will be four trim levels to the Prius c, One, Two, Three and Four. Stepping up to trim level’s Three and Four will net you a smart key, which offers the ability to not have to take the key out of your pocket to get in the car, or need it for starting. The upper two levels also get you the top end audio system with navigation. It has a 6.1 in touch screen with AM/FM/SirusXM/HD Radio and also will play CD’s along with MP3 and WMA files through a six speaker system.

All trim levels have bluetooth as standard but trim levels Three and Four allow for advanced voice recognition. The top end audio system also includes Entune. Entune is a system that Toyota have developed that works with the data connection on your smart phone to supply Pandora, iHeart Radio, OpenTable, MovieTickets.com along with real time traffic, weather, fuel prices, sports scores and weather to you.

You register on a specific Toyota website with your cars VIN number, and then you can assign up to four different phones to the system so that everyone can taylor the system to themselves, if multiple people in a household share the car.

The Prius c also contains a 3.5 inch TFT display to the right of the offset digital speedometer. There are multiple levels of menus to explore within. Items like energy monitors, drive information, scoring the last 100 drives and how economical the current one is, 5 minute consumption. There is an ECO Savings level where you can program the current cost of gas in, and also the mpg of another vehicle to see how much you are saving with the Prius c. It also calculates the current cost of your current trip, and past trips, and brake it down into a cost per mile. It will also grade you on how economically you are driving and braking on a scale of 1-5 and display it in a bar graph.

Many people worry about safety in cars that are as small as the Prius c. To address this Toyota is including nine standard airbags along with items like ABS, traction control, vehicle stability control, brake assist, brake force distribution and smart stop.

Smart stop is a system that intervenes when both the brake and gas peddles are pressed at the same time. In a panic situation one might press down hard on both peddles without meaning to. The system senses this, and disengages the gas, it also incorporates a hill assist into the system so that if you are on a hill and stopped, you do not roll backwards when transferring from the brake peddle to the gas peddle.

Pricing for the Prius c in trim level One starts at $19,710, Level Two is $20,760, Level Three is $22,395 and Level Four is $23,990, all prices include the $760 destination fee. While this is certainly on the higher end of the B-Segment price structure, cars like Ford’s Fiesta can quickly top $20,000 as well once they are optioned up. The base price of the Prius c is about a $2,000 premium over the Yaris to give some context.

Out on the road the Prius c drives very well. While the handling can’t be called sporty, it is very competent. It is very agile, has a better ride quality than the Prius Liftback or v, and also transmits less road noise through the tires than the Liftback or v as well. The Prius c engineers took extra time to mitigate as much NVH from the car as possible and their work shows.

Acceleration in city traffic from 0-40 miles an hour is good, though not quick. Merging onto the highway the power can be best described as adequate. It is able to get on to freeways and merge without drama, and while you may feel you need to be going faster or accelerating quicker, once you look at the speedometer, you will see you’ve already gotten up to the speed of surrounding traffic. The car can engage an EV mode where it can run up to a mile with a max speed of 25 miles an hour.

The Prius c was able to run 75 miles an hour on the highway with no issues, it was not moved around by semi’s going past, it felt very stable, and the interior is quiet enough to hold a conversation in a normal tone of voice.

While the other versions of the Prius have never excited us all that much, we feel that the c is the first Prius that we can get behind. It truly was a fun and satisfying car to drive. In a time when gas is again approaching $4/gallon in the U.S., having a car that can pull down 50 mpg is an attractive proposition. And when that proposition asks very few compromises from you, it’s even more so. No the car is not a sports car, or a sporty car, what it is, is a small car that gets the job done, can be well equipped, and you don’t mind driving. While in the past, and even now with the Liftback and the v, the Prius’ could be described as automotive appliances, the c does not have that vibe, it feels like a car first, a hybrid second.

Toyota, Lexus and Scion Dominate J.D. Power 2012 Vehicle Dependability Study

February 16, 2012 lacarguy Lexus, Scion, Toyota Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

Eight Lexus, Toyota, and Scion models captured segment awards in the 2012 J.D. Power and Associates Vehicle Dependability Study, a performance equal to all other vehicle brands combined and more than twice as many as the runner-up nameplate.

The study also found:
  • Lexus is the number one nameplate improving by 23 fewer problems/100;
  • Toyota is the highest ranked non-premium nameplate and tied for third place overall, improving by 18 fewer problems/100; and
  • Scion achieves its highest ever position at fifth place, jumping up 17 positions and improving by 55 fewer problems/100.
“We are extremely pleased that not only did we win awards in eight of the 14 model segments, but that in two segments we finished one-two and made the podium in 12 segments overall”, said Jim Lentz, President and Chief Operating Officer Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.
2012 Vehicle Dependability Study performers by segment
Segment
Ranking
Model
Problems/100
Sub-Compact Car
1
Toyota Yaris
97
2
Scion xD
113
Compact Car
1
Toyota Prius
80
2
Toyota Corolla
93
Compact Crossover SUV
3
Toyota RAV4
121
Compact Multi-Purpose Vehicle
1
Scion xB
100
Compact Sporty Car
1
Scion tC
123
Entry Premium Car
1
Lexus ES350
81
Midsize Car
3
Toyota Camry
105
Midsize Crossover SUV
3
Toyota Highlander
111
Midsize Van
1
Toyota Sienna
123
Midsize Premium Crossover SUV
1
Lexus RX350
85
Large Premium Car*
1
Lexus LS460
72
Large Car
2
Toyota Avalon
100
Large Pick Up
1
Toyota Tundra
108
Lexus Nameplate
1
 
86
Toyota Nameplate
3 (tie)
 
104
Scion
5
 
111
Premium Brands Industry Average
129
Non-Premium Brands Industry Average
144

Additional examples of Toyota’s commitment to the highest standards for quality, safety, reliability and retained value include:

PickupTrucks.com Selects 2012 Toyota Tacoma As Best Midsized Truck

February 14, 2012 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

When it comes to the midsized pickup truck market, there’s one and only one name that completely dominates the segment. That name is the Toyota Tacoma. And with major contenders like Ford withdrawing from the segment, the Tacoma begins to standout even more as a clear winner. But even though the Tacoma is the undisputed sales leader year in and year out, is the truck really that much better than the competition? It seems the expertise of Pickuptrucks.com has found an answer. The verdict: the Toyota Tacoma lives up to every ounce of its reputation as a dependable mid-sized truck, finding itself way ahead of the pack in off-road ruggedness and an overall standout in real-world performance.

Mark Williams, editor-in-chief of Pickuptrucks.com and his team pitted seven trucks in a free-for-all comparison test in multiple categories. They were the 2012 Chevy Colorado, 2011 Ford Ranger, 2012 GMC Canyon, 2012 Honda Ridgeline, 2012 Nissan Frontier, 2012 Suzuki Equator and 2012 Toyota Tacoma. The trucks were thrashed, beaten and bruised on the dynamo, on the drag strip, in the desert, and on the highway — all to find out which truck is worthy of winning the high-budget, high-stakes comparison test.

To begin with, let’s have a look at the Tacoma on paper. With a starting price of just $22,100-$29,900, depending on the model, this purpose-built truck can come with either a 2.7-liter inline-four cylinder gasoline engine that offers 159 horsepower. Fuel economy for this engine is rated at 23 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. Upgrade to the 4.0L V6, and the output is bumped up to substantial 236 horsepower. Transmission offerings are diverse, with a 4-speed automatic, a 5-speed automatic, a 5-speed manual, and a 6-speed manual. Some rugged options include mud-guards, skid plates for the underbody, Hill Start Assist Control (HAC) and Downhill Assist Control (DAC). As a result, the Tacoma 372 points out of 400 in value judging and 142 points out of 160 in expert impressions as tallied by Williams and company. And while the Honda Ridgeline and Nissan Frontier came close to the Tacoma’s overall score of 514, the Toyota won outright.

Another defining element of the Shootout happened to be the unladen quarter-mile testing. The testers collected data from the trucks every 200 feet as the trucks paced as fast as they could down a quarter-mile drag strip. To nobody’s surprise, the Tacoma finished near the top again, crossing the finish line with a time of 16.43 seconds at 85.1 mph. It was second only to the Chevrolet Colorado, which was equipped with a less-fuel efficient V8 engine, edging the Toyota by less than a quarter of a second in quarter-mile acceleration. Also nearly identical between the Chevy and Toyota was 0-60 mph acceleration, at 8.12 and 8.17 seconds, respectively.

The PickupTrucks.com team then filled the beds of all the trucks with 40-pound bags of rock salt, until each truck had its Gross Vehicle Weight Rating maxed. Being that each truck had different capacities, each truck carried a different load. For the Tacoma, it was 22 40-pound bags. It was the same story as before, with the Tacoma finishing just behind the V8-powered Chevy Colorado, accelerating from 0-60 in 9.27 seconds and crossing the quarter-mile finish in 17.18 seconds at 80.94 mph. But what’s the point of all that pep if the truck isn’t capable of stopping quickly? This is where the Tacoma stood out in a big way.

During empty testing, the Tacoma was the far-and-away winner, with an average stopping distance from 60-0 mph at 133 feet. The Honda Ridgeline was second, however it took an additional 15 feet to come to a stop. During loaded stops, Toyota, once again was the standout winner with 142 feet, with the rest of the group bunching up over 10 to 15 feet longer.

While Toyota was a standout performer and a victor in the aforementioned testing, it might have been its off-road performance that stole the show. Toyota’s TRD off-road package ended up being the proverbial gun to a knife fight, scoring 50 out of 50 points in hill climbing, which was double that of the Honda and five points ahead of the Suzuki. The Tacoma scored a perfect 50/50 again in the off-road course, edging the Nissan and the Suzuki once again.

So no matter what the job calls for, the Toyota Tacoma seems to be the best tool in the box. PickupTrucks.com’s testing tells us so.

Toyota Announces Pricing for 2012 Prius c

February 8, 2012 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

Designed to function as a city-friendly vehicle with an engaging driving experience, hatchback utility, and an EPA-estimated city fuel economy rating of 53 mpg, Prius c offers the highest city mpg rating of any vehicle without a plug. The all-new Prius c joins the Prius Family, which includes the third generation Prius Liftback, the versatile new Prius v and the Prius Plug-in Hybrid, which will be available in early 2012.

Unique Place in the Prius Family

A gateway into the Prius Family, the new Prius c will find favor with younger shoppers seeking a smartly designed, fuel-sipping subcompact car packing advanced drivetrain and in-car technology. The SULEV (Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle) rated Prius c will offer engaging driving dynamics and superior urban maneuverability. When the 2012 Prius c arrives in showrooms in March 2012, this all-new hatchback will offer:
* The highest rated city fuel economy of any vehicle without a plug*; 53 mpg in the city, and 46 mpg on the highway, for a combined rating of 50 mpg
* A starting MSRP of $18,950 with a proven hybrid powertrain and premium technology
* A premium hybrid experience thanks to a wide array of convenience and advanced in-car electronics features, including a standard 3.5-inch full color TFT multi-information display, Bluetooth® hands-free phone capability, USB port with iPod® connectivity, and available Display Audio system with Navigation and Entune™

Prius c: Four Grades

The Prius c will be available in four grades, offering desirable features, equipment, and enhanced capability providing consumers compelling value. All Prius c models will be equipped with a Hybrid Synergy Drive 1.5-liter DOHC, 16-valve engine with VVT-i, a 60 hp permanent magnet AC synchronous motor, and a 144 volt nickel-metal hydride battery which generates 25.9 hp of electric propulsion for a total hybrid system net output of 99 horsepower. The Prius c will be equipped with 9 standard airbags, driver and front passenger Advanced Whiplash-Injury-Lessening seats and Toyota’s Star Safety System ™ that 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).

The Prius c One base grade will offer many standard features such as automatic climate control, tilt-telescopic steering wheel with audio, climate, multi-information display and Bluetooth® hands free phone controls; and remote keyless entry with illuminated entry.

The Prius c Two grade offers a 6-speaker audio system, variable intermittent windshield wipers, a 60/40 split fold-down rear seat with adjustable headrests, cruise control, engine immobilizer, center console with armrest and storage compartment, and a cargo area tonneau cover.

The Prius c Three grade enhances the technology in the vehicle with improved audio and connectivity. The Prius c Three includes a Display Audio system with Navigation and Entune™ that adds a 6.1-inch touchscreen, Sirius XM Satellite Radio capability (includes 3 month trial subscription to XM Select Package), HD Radio™ with iTunes® Tagging, USB port with iPod® connectivity and control, vehicle information with customizable settings, and advanced voice recognition. Toyota Entune™ includes Bing™ and Pandora®; real-time info including traffic, weather, fuel prices, sports, and stocks. Apps available spring 2012 at no charge include iHeartRadio, MovieTickets.com and OpenTable®. Access to Entune™ services is complimentary for three years. In addition, the Prius c Three grade includes color-keyed outside door handles with touch- sensor lock/unlock feature, a tilt/telescopic steering wheel with audio, climate, Multi-information Display, Bluetooth® hands free phone and voice command controls, a Touch Tracer Display, and a Smart Key System on the front doors and liftgate with Push Button Start and remote illuminated entry. The Prius c Three allows buyers to add 15-inch alloy wheels and a power tilt/slide moonroof with sunshade as optional equipment.

The Prius c Four grade is distinguished by its 15-inch, 8-spoke alloy wheels, Softex-trimmed heated front seats, color-keyed heated power outside mirrors with turn signal indicators, and integrated fog lamps. Optional equipment for the Prius c Four includes 16-inch, 8-spoke alloy wheels with 195/50R16 tires and power tilt telescopic moonroof with sunshade.

2012MY Prius c Pricing Sheet

SERIES MSRP
PRIUS c ONE $18,950
PRIUS c TWO $19,900
PRIUS c THREE $21,635
PRIUS c FOUR $23,230

2012 Prius c Options and Packages

Available for Prius c Three:
Power tilt/slide moonroof with sliding sunshade – MSRP $850
15-inch 8-spoke alloy wheels with P175/65R15 tires- MSRP $390

Available for Prius c Four:
Power tilt/slide moonroof with sliding sunshade – MSRP $850
16-inch 8-spoke alloy wheels with P195/50R16 tires – MSRP $300
16-inch Alloy Wheel Package: combines 16-inch 8-spoke alloy wheels with P195/50R16 tires and power tilt/slide moonroof with sliding sunshade – MSRP $1,150

Available Exterior Colors:
Habanero
Blue Streak Metallic
Summer Rain Metallic
Absolutely Red
Black Sand Pearl
Magnetic Gray Metallic
Classic Silver Metallic
Moonglow
Super White

Toyota Confirms Limited Production Of Electric RAV4 And Scion iQ In 2012

January 19, 2012 lacarguy HybridCars.com, Scion, Toyota Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

by: Zach McDonald Hybridcars.com

Toyota’s chief executive in the United States confirmed last week that electric versions of the Scion iQ and the Toyota RAV4 will enter the production cycle in 2012. The two electric vehicles have been promised for a couple of years, so hitting the delivery dates on time is good news. The bad news is how tentative the production numbers will be.

Toyota Motor Sales president and chief operating officer, Jim Lentz, told reporters at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show that both the electric iQ minicar and the battery-powered RAV4 SUV will be small-scale production vehicles and used to “gauge consumer preferences, usage patterns and daily requirements.” In other words, Toyota will continue to sit on the sidelines and study EVs, while Nissan (and others) aim for the biggest possible volume for its electric vehicles.

Lentz also confirmed that the Toyota RAV4 EV will have a range that exceeds 100 miles. It will become the only all-electric SUV available in the US when it hits dealerships-mainly in California-later this year. The second-generation RAV4 EV is also Toyota’s first fully-electric vehicle sold in the United States since it halted sales of the legendary old-school RAV4 EV in 2003. This time around, Toyota will team up with the startup EV-maker Tesla for design and production of RAV4’s drivetrain. Tesla’s Roadster and forthcoming Model S are both capable of ranges well in excess of the 100-mile barrier other fully-electric consumer vehicles have failed to break.

Lentz said the electrified Scion iQ will have a range of 50 miles or less, and that the minicar will be a fleet-only vehicle. It’s expected that most of the 100 or so Scion iQ EVs will be sold to car-sharing programs in urban areas in the US. According to Lentz, gauging consumer preferences means that Toyota will “test” both electrified vehicles for three years, at which point the automaker will determine whether or not the technology is ready for mass production.

Pricing information for both vehicles is still unknown.

Toyota's NAIAS Exhibit Focuses On The Future Of Transportation

January 5, 2012 lacarguy Toyota Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

Toyota’s 30,000-square-foot exhibit will be a blend of new products bound for dealerships and concept vehicles that could pave the way for new vehicles and promising technologies. Among the headliners at the exhibit is a pair of vehicles debuting during Media Days at NAIAS. On Jan. 10, Toyota will unveil the NS4, an advanced plug-in hybrid concept vehicle. The news conference will feature the premiere of this concept vehicle as well as the North American debut of the Prius c hybrid. The Prius c will go on sale in 2012 and is the fourth member of the Prius “family” of hybrid vehicles. All four vehicles will be on display in a special “Prius Family Zone” in the exhibit.

Along with the NS4, a pair of other concept vehicles will also be featured in the “Technology Zone” of Toyota’s exhibit, after bowing at the Tokyo Motor Show last month. They include the FCV-R and Fun-Vii. The FCV-R is a fuel cell sedan concept with the “R” standing for Reality and Revolution. The Fun-Vii has been engineered to be able to connect wirelessly with the infrastructure and surrounding roads. The “Vii” is an abbreviation for Vehicle, interactive, internet. The Technology Zone also includes a cut-away vehicle and 3D cockpit display. Both displays convey future safety and convenience technologies presently being studied by Toyota for potential use in the next decade.

Toyota’s renowned Star Safety System will also be on display in the exhibit. Toyota’s standard safety equipment can be experienced interactively via a driving Safety Simulator.

In all, Toyota will have 30 cars, trucks and SUVs on display at the auto show. Traditional window stickers have been replaced by iPads mounted near each vehicle for pricing and options exploration. Product specialists will also utilize iPads and an on-site kiosk to demonstrate the features of Toyota’s new Entune multimedia system, now available on many 2012 models.

There are a few specialty vehicles available in the display, among them a Camry pace car for the 2012 Daytona 500, a Toyota Tundra pickup emblazoned with graphics from DC comics/apparel and a Prius Project Concept Bike – engineered and constructed with Prius’ innovative qualities in mind.

“This year’s exhibit is about where we’re heading as an automaker,” said Ruslan Polinovsky, Auto Show Engagement Manager at Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. “Visitors will not only see our award-winning cars and trucks but vehicles that show our environmental and technological leadership.”

Toyota, Lexus, and Scion Vehicles Earned Top Safety Pick Awards for 2012

December 16, 2011 lacarguy Lexus, Scion, Toyota Tags: , , , , 0 Comments

Is the safety of a vehicle a major consideration in your next purchase? Then you will be happy to know that fifteen Toyota, Lexus and Scion vehicles earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick awards. The 15 models chosen between Toyota, Lexus, and Scion, are more than any other automaker!

Commenting on today’s announcement, Steve St. Angelo, executive vice president of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc., said, “Safety is a core value that dates back to the foundation of our company. IIHS’ awards further recognize our commitment to helping protect drivers and passengers.

The 2012 model year winners are
For Toyota: Avalon, Camry, Corolla, Highlander, Prius, Prius v, Sienna, Tundra Crew Cab, Venza, and Yaris
For Lexus: CT 200h and RX
For Scion: tC, xB, and xD

According to the IIHS, Top Safety Pick awards recognize vehicles that do the best job of protecting
people in front, side, rollover, and rear crashes based on ratings in IIHS tests.

The IIHS Top Safety Pick award is the private sector’s counterpart to the government’s own five star rating systems for vehicle safety conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Over recent years it has been difficult for automakers to ace both tests. Today’s announcement shows they are improving safety.

Toyota Plans for Major Hybrid Growth in U.S.

December 9, 2011 lacarguy HybridCars.com, Toyota Tags: , , , , , , , , 2 Comments

by Zack McDonald – HybridCars.com

At last year’s Detroit Motor Show, Toyota vice president for U.S. sales, Bob Carter, offered a bold prediction for the direction his company plans to take in the United States over the next decade―and for the country’s vehicle market in general. “We will end the decade with Prius being the number one nameplate in the industry,” said Carter, predicting that the Prius would soon overtake the Camry as the company’s most popular model in the U.S.

Toyota plans to complete work with Ford on a brand new hybrid system for pickup trucks by the end of next year

Almost a year later, it has become increasingly clear that Toyota’s big talk about hybrids is no greenwash. After almost singlehandedly growing the hybrid market from obscurity in the United States, Toyota now sees hybrids primed to conquer the mainstream―and has no intention of ceding its dominance in the sector.

According to a report in Automotive News, Toyota plans to as much as double the number of hybrids it sells in North America by 2015, to 400,000 vehicles per year. Top executives at the company told the publication that Toyota will seek to greatly expand its manufacturing base here―particularly hybrid drivetrain components―in an effort to reduce its reliance on the Japanese supply chain. Growing the American hybrid market will do a great deal to make that shift possible, and Toyota is in the process of radically expanding its U.S. lineup to include more than a half-dozen hybrid models by the end of next year―with even more reportedly on their way.

“Hybrid technology is a trump card for fuel-economy improvement,” said Toyota global research and development head, Takeshi Uchiyamada, in the article.

Toyota also told Automotive News that it plans to complete work with Ford on a brand new hybrid system for pickup trucks by the end of next year. The first Toyota vehicle to be outfitted with the drivetrain will likely be a hybrid version of the Tundra, the carmaker’s largest and most fuel-thirsty pickup, with a combined rating of just 16 mpg.

Even a few miles-per-gallon improvement in a truck like the Tundra will pay big dividends in terms of its operating cost, which could make the car a hit among the fleets and private businesses that make up a substantial portion of the pickup market. Ford’s F-150 EcoBoost model has led all F-150 models in sales this year―accounting for 40 percent of purchases―thanks to its EPA-rated 22-mpg fuel economy.

By expanding its gas-electric offerings across more and more segments, Toyota will be able to grow production of hybrid components, allowing it to reach the economies of scale necessary to diversify its supply chain in the Americas. For hybrid buyers, the important takeaway is that Americans can expect more models and shorter waiting periods in the coming years, as the gas-electric leader seeks to broaden its hold on the market.

The Prius V Is Here, See It In Action

November 7, 2011 lacarguy Green Auto Technology, High MPG Vehicles, Hybrid Vehicles, Toyota Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

We’ve talked about it for quite some time, and now it’s finally here, the first new model of the Prius line, it’s the Prius V. V is for Versatility! The Prius V has as much cargo capacity as most CUV’s on the market today, yet returns the superior fuel economy you would expect from a Prius. As you may remember we had a chance to drive a Prius V back in June and wrote about it here on the blog.

Now, the Prius V’s are here, and we have them available at both the Toyota Santa Monica and Toyota Hollywood stores! We showed the Prius V off at the AltCar Expo, and we also shot this test drive video for you, have a look.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BqteH35POGI?rel=0&hd=1&w=853&h=480]