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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The 2011 SEMA Show will be the scene for the debut of the Oakley Surf Tacoma. From the coast of Baja to the cold water of Santa Cruz, Calif., the Oakley Surf Tacoma has the ability to live at the beach and go anywhere in search of mega waves. Australian surfing pro Tom Whitaker talked about the Oakley Surf Tacoma at a press conference in the Toyota exhibit at the SEMA Show.
Built using a rugged Toyota Tacoma 4×4 pickup equipped with a V6 engine and TRD supercharger that generates 304 horsepower, the truck was customized by Smithbuilt to be a Surfing Big Wave Assault Machine. Additional performance modifications include a Flowmaster stainless steel exhaust, an Icon stage 3 lift kit, Billet top A arms, new leaf springs for added height, a new front coilover system, and Walker Evans 17 x 8 bead lock wheels with a flat black finish mounted to BF Goodrich 285/75-17 all-terrain tires.
Inside modifications include Wet Okole Hawaii custom embroidered seat covers, Topstitch interior modifications on the door panels, head liner and carpet kit throughout, a Kicker sound system and an Oakley icon.
This unique Toyota Tacoma is a surfer’s dream as it is equipped with a purpose-built roof racking system for heavy hauling and can be accessed with ease for surf bag stowage and multiple board storage. The truck bed system, which has a lot of storage for wet suits and other equipment, also comes with an ice chest and barbeque grill. Meals and cold drinks can be enjoyed under a shade system that is equipped in the back of the roof rack system. Living comfort is also achieved with and integrated shower system. Illumination is supplemented with Vision X lighting in the bed and front driving lights.
After SEMA, the Oakley Surf Tacoma will follow the waves and appear at all Oakley surf competitions. Surf’s up!
OAKLEY SURF TACOMA FEATURES
– TRD Supercharged (304 horsepower)
– K&N air filter
– Flowmaster stainless steel exhaust
– Icon stage 3 lift kit
– Billet top A arms
– New leaf springs for added height
– New front coilover system
– Front – Arb Rear – Custom – Mike Smith Fabrication
– Arb deluxe bull bar
– ARB winch kit
– Two – eight-inch Vision X HID’s
– Mike Smith Fabrication rear bumper and tire rack
ROOF RACKING SYSTEM/REAR BED – MIKE SMITH FABRICATION
– Customized to hold 6-8 surf boards
– Custom access doors
– Integrated driving light by Vision X
– Oakley net system for extra storage
– Integrated shower system
– Custom storage system throughout truck bed
WHEELS AND TIRES
– Walker Evans 17 X 8 bead locks/flat black finish
– BF Goodrich 285/75-17 All Terrain Tires
– Wet Okole Hawaii seat covers custom embroidered
– Oakley icon
– Topstitch interior mods to include door panels, head liner and carpet kit throughout
– Kicker Sound System
– Storage cooler
– Storable barbecue grill
– On board air compressor supplied by VIAIR Corporation
– ARB rear canopy
– Walker Evans Wheels
– Vision X lighting
Sunday was National Plug-in Day (October 16, 2011), with over 200 EV drivers taking part in a parade of electric vehicles in Santa Monica, California over the weekend and LAcarGUY was there with Mike Sullivan driving the Prius Plugin and Kelly Sullivan driving the Fisker Karma! Congresswoman Janice Hahn of California along with California state Senator Fran Pavley, Chris Paine and actor Ed Bedgley Jr. were just a few of the other well known people who drove their personal EV’s in the parade.
With 200+ vehicles participating this years event was the largest-ever plug-in vehicle parade and biggest grassroots EV event, the parade in Santa Monica was mirrored by similar displays in 20 cities across the US.
Organised by not-for-profit EV advocate group Plug-in America, the day saw new and legacy plug-in vehicles from the likes of GM, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Toyota, smart, Ford, Tesla and Coda take part in the flagship parade through downtown Santa Monica.
“Only a few years ago, major automakers were literally crushing electric cars. Today, virtually every auto company in the world is selling or developing a plug-in car, and consumers are snapping up each and every one, stimulating our economy while helping the environment,” said Plug In America co-founder Paul Scott.
You can see all of the pictures we took from the event on out Flickr page, just click this link to take you there.
Ben Cook from LeftLaneNews.com is our guest blogger today, these are his thoughts on the 2012 Toyota Camry.
The Toyota Camry is proof that every so often, nice guys do finish first. An exciting, high-adrenaline machine it is not, but the Camry has managed to be the top selling car in America for 13 of the past 14 years based on a multitude of other, subtler virtues. It has achieved a quiet sort of perfection characterized by comfort, reliability, efficiency and the absence of normal automotive faults like invasive wind noise, awkward suspension movements and undue mechanical faults or failures. For the 2012 model year, Toyota is introducing an all-new Camry that promises to build on all of the traditional Camry virtues; read on for some of the highlights of the new car.
Savings at the Gas Pump
The most significant mechanical changes to the Camry will have a favorable effect on owners’ wallets. The Camry’s four-cylinder engine gains three miles per gallon in both city and highway cycles, climbing to a class-leading 25/35 miles gallon. V-6 Camrys are now capable of hitting the 30 mpg mark on the highway, an impressive feat for a powerful six-cylinder motor, while city mileage is 21 mpg. The efficiency king is the hybrid model, which ekes out 43/39 mpg ratings.
Surprisingly, Toyota managed to decrease the Camry’s fuel consumption without resorting to expensive and complex measures like direct injection and downsized engines. Instead, the company employed simple but effective methods like lower rolling-resistance tires, improved aerodynamics, taller gearing, electric steering and shedding 155 excess pounds.
Looks Better, Feels Better
Outside, the formerly bland Camry now has a more organic shape and more sophisticated surface detailing, features that conspire to give it an understated but handsome look. More substantive changes reside inside, where the rather bulbous dashboard of the outgoing model gives way to a classy design with high-quality, soft touch plastics and elegant stitching. Despite the weight reduction, the Camry’s interior actually grows slightly in head, leg and shoulder room. It is a spacious and comfortable space to spend time.
The Camry’s app-based infotainment system, dubbed “Entune” is the first technology of its kind to hit the mainstream market, allowing drivers to quickly locate almost any conceivable point of interest. OpenTable and movietickets.com provide concierge services at the tap of a button, while Pandora, iheartradio and Siriuis XM crank out the tunes through an impressive optional JBL audio system.
One For the Drivers
Toyota is making a concerted effort to make the 2012 Toyota Camry appeal to those who are looking for a bit of driving pleasure, and the result is the SE model. The SE features stiffer springs and shocks and rigidity-adding steering knuckles, resulting in a crisper sedan with surprisingly precise handling and the most undiluted connection between driver and machine ever seen in a Camry. The SE also includes improved seat bolsters for better support during spirited driving, a cleaner grille and much less chrome than the standard model
Overall, with its increased efficiency, improved looks and newfound focus on driving dynamics, the new Camry is a sure bet to keep satisfying customers and retain its sales title for the foreseeable future.
As we all know, Toyota has faced some difficult challenges over the past 18 months. First it was the issue of unintended acceleration which as proven to be false. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) did not find a vehicle-based cause of those incidents in addition to those causes already addressed by Toyota recalls. Then in March, the disastrous earthquake and tsunami caused a disruption to the entire manufacturing base resulting in shutdowns in plants, a shortage in parts, and in turn, a sharp drop in sales and profits.
As we look beyond the crisis and focus on the climb ahead, Toyota unveils the 2012 Camry as the first of 20 new and refreshed Toyota, Lexus, and Scion models arriving by 2013. Since it debuted way back in 1983, Toyota has since manufactured and sold 15 million Camry models across 100 countries. Even more amazing is that of the Camry models built and sold over the last 15 years, 90 percent are still enduring a daily commute on nearly every corner of the planet.
Over the past two years, the competition, Ford, Hyundai, Kia and Volkswagen, have unveiled creations that have been designed specifically to lure buyers from the Camry. And in response, Toyota has now revealed its seventh-generation Camry. Although not an all-new iteration, the outcome is the result of a major mid-cycle refresh. Carrying the same dimensions to the 2011 model, the Camry does get a major nose job with a refreshed headlight design with an integrated chrome grill. This gives it a wider appearance without having to actually stretch the actual track width. Another major exterior focus is the considerable aerodynamic designs that have been applied. As such, trims are now built with squared-off aero corners at the front and rear.
The most obvious changes appear in the interior with a more open appearance as a result of adjustments to the A- and B- pillar caps, center console and door control panels. Along with a newly sculpted dash hewn from soft-touch plastic and stitched with a line of contrasting thread for a bit of color.
Under the hood, the powertrains–a 2.5-liter four-cylinder and a 3.5-liter V6, both mated to a six-speed automatic–carry over from its predecessor with slight revisions that result in dramatic improvements in fuel economy. The 268 horsepower V6 model is expected to score EPA ratings of 21 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway, which equal the four-cylinder Camry of of a couple years ago and nearly match the Sonata’s 2.0-liter turbo four. The new four-cylinder Camry, meanwhile, jumps to the top of the class with expected 25/35 mpg ratings.
All 2012 Camrys are equipped with a class-leading 10 standard airbags, and like all Toyota models, the Camry will feature Toyota’s Star Safety System standard, which includes Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), and Brake Assist. It also features the standard Smart Stop Technology brake-override system. An electronic tire pressure monitoring system is also standard.
The all-new Cary will offer four different model grades to choose from. The entry-level L, value-driven LE, premium XLE and sporty SE grade. The list of standard features are impressive so check out our website for more detail or even better yet, drop by the dealership come this October to experience the vehicle for yourself. Follow us on Twitter and join our Facebook community to be one of the first to be notified once the all-new Camry arrives.
As you may know, Toyota is growing its Prius family line of vehicles in hopes that a few variations on our most successful battery-powered recipe will offer buyers solutions that the conventional Prius simply couldn’t match. Have you been considering a Prius but felt that the standard vehicle would not accommodate your growing family? Or do you lead a more active lifestyle and require something that will easily carry all your gear without you having to master the art of packing? Well, do we have the vehicle for you.
When it came to designing the Prius V, Toyota’s designers wanted to make sure that the newcomer would still be instantly recognized as a member of the Prius dynasty. Up front, the vehicle wears both stylized head lamps and a rounded front fascia that’s remarkably similar to the 2011 Prius. It also worth noting that the front fenders and hood are completely new sheetmetal. Also, the headlight housing has been altered to incorporate a new ridge that reduces wind turbulence around the side view mirrors. As a result, the small change has a huge impact on interior noise.
From the side, the wagon-like presence of the Prius V is inescapable with its long roof, similarly lengthy rear doors, and an extended cargo area. The rear offers a fairly sizable hatch that terminates in a unique rear spoiler which serves an aerodynamic purpose. Toyota designers and engineers made an effort to decrease the vehicle’s coefficient of drag as much as possible to increase fuel efficiency. Enhancements include touches like protrusions from the front and rear bumper, specially designed side skirts and extensive underbody cladding that help the Prius V return its .29 coefficient of drag.
Engineers essentially stretched the Prius floorplan to give the Prius V an extra three inches of wheelbase and six inches of overall length. Combined with a taller roof, additional glass and large rear hatch, this newcomer weighs 3,274 lb. Opting to skip throwing extra horsepower to all that weight, engineers simply changed the axle ratio from 3.268:1 to 3.704:1. As a result, the Prius V feels just as adequate on the road as the third-generation Prius. The new gear ratio means that acceleration is perfectly acceptable for matching wits with traffic in town or on the highway with 0-60 mph sprints taking an estimated 10.4 seconds. A total of four drive modes are accessible via buttons mounted on the center console, including EV, Eco, Power, and Normal modes.
Under the hood, the same 2ZR-FXE 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine found in the base Prius supplies power in conjunction with a pair of liquid-cooled motor generators. Engineers designed the transaxle case in the Prius V with integrated water jackets for the first time to keep the motors at a steady temperature, thereby increasing longevity and performance at the same time. Combined output sits at 134 hp at 5,200 rpm and 105 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. The exhaust recirculation system was also redesigned to decrease the drivetrain’s warm-up period, as a result, the Prius V can reach optimum operating temperature up to a minute sooner than vehicles equipped with the old system.
As most other automakers are flocking to lithium-ion batteries, Toyota has decided that there is no need to pursue the added cost of the technology for the Prius V. Instead, the hybrid wagon uses a modified version of the same nickel-metal hydride battery pack found in the third-gen Prius. Total output has been boosted slightly to 650 volts, and the more compact battery configuration keeps from impeding on interior room. Additionally, the battery pack’s cooling duct now draws ambient air from a hidden location under the second-row seats.
If you’re looking toward a small SUV, a crossover, or a wagon, the Prius V has all the functionality of those vehicles with the fuel economy and panache that only the Prius name can offer. With improved functionality, the Prius V can be the vehicle to accommodate a growing family with an active lifestyle. Contact us to book your test drive today and we will notify you as soon as the vehicle hits our showroom. Follow us on Twitter and join our Facebook community to keep up with the latest updates.
Toyota achieved a milestone today with the opening of the first hydrogen fueling station in the U.S. fed directly from an active industrial hydrogen pipeline. The station is the result of lengthy collaboration between Toyota, Air Products, Shell, South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) and the Department of Energy (DOE).
The station is located next to TMS sales and marketing headquarters and as landowners, Toyota leases the land to Shell for a nominal fee. As station owner/provider, Shell works directly with Air Products who provides onsite equipment and station management. The pipeline gas also is provided by Air Products from its plants in Wilmington and Carson, Calif. SCAQMD and DOE provided project funding assistance.
“This is the first time Shell has worked closely with a vehicle manufacturer to develop a demonstration station,” said Julian Evison, general manager of operations for Shell alternative energies. “The industry has made good technical progress, but cooperation is a necessity for hydrogen to achieve its commercial potential as a road transport fuel.”
The facility will provide hydrogen for the Toyota fuel cell hybrid demonstration program vehicles as well as other manufacturers’ fuel cell vehicle fleets in the Los Angeles area. “Building an extensive hydrogen re-fueling infrastructure is a critical step in the successful market launch of fuel cell vehicles,” said Chris Hostetter, group vice president, product and strategic planning, TMS. “We plan to bring a fuel cell vehicle to market in 2015, or sooner, and the infrastructure must be in place to support our customers’ needs.”
Air Products also worked in collaboration with Toyota and other fuel cell vehicle manufacturers to develop the Hydrogen Vehicle Authorization System (HVAS), which is another industry first and unique to the Torrance station. The HVAS wireless vehicle recognition system allows station-to-vehicle recognition to facilitate quick and convenient fueling for customers.
Toyota’s fuel cell hybrid vehicle fleet has logged several million miles since hitting the road in 2002. The first generation fuel cell hybrid vehicles (FCHV) estimated range was 130 miles. In 2009, the latest generation vehicle, Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle – Advanced (FSHV-adv), achieved an estimated range of 431 miles on a single fill of hydrogen. In addition to fuel cell stack efficiency and range improvements, durability and cold temperature performance have greatly improved along with significant reductions in manufacturing and materials costs. Toyota’s current FCHV-adv nationwide demonstration program is placing more than 100 vehicles with demonstration partners by 2013, providing one of the largest fleets of active fuel cell vehicles in the country. The primary goal of the demonstration program is to spur infrastructure development prior to fuel cell vehicle market introduction in 2015. Successful infrastructure development will require collaborative efforts between manufacturers, government regulators, and business, similar to the current partnerships formed to open the Torrence Shell hydrogen demo station.
In a field fill with celebrities and racing stars, LAcarGUY‘s Mike Sullivan battled hard to a podium finish of third in the Celebrity Class and a very solid fifth place overall in the 2011 Toyota Pro/Celebrity race during the Long Beach Grand Prix weekend. Mike finished just behind former “Malcolm In The Middle” star Frankie Munoz, who is a highly skilled driver and competed in the Pro category!
By participating in the race Toyota donated $5,000 in Mike’s name to the Racing for Kids foundation. Racing for Kids is a national nonprofit program benefiting children’s hospitals in Long Beach and Orange County, Calif. Toyota has donated $1.9 million on behalf of the race and its participants to various children’s hospitals since 1991.
The Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race is scheduled to be broadcast on the Speed Channel on Sunday, May 1, at Noon PDT and will be rebroadcast after that. (See local listings or www.speedtv.com for times.)
You can see the overall results below and a few pictures from the event and the LAcarGUY team cheering Mike on.