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Toyota Prius Family May Gain Hydrogen Fuel Cell Model
Toyota is committed to bringing its hydrogen fuel cell vehicle to the U.S. market by 2015 and when it does there's a chance that car will be a member of the Prius family.
Speaking to AutoGuide.com during the 2013 LA Auto Show, Toyota marketing executive Bill Fay said the company understands that the Prius name has considerable clout in the world of car buyers, especially when it comes to alternate-fuel vehicles.
"We haven't totally decided on a name, but it'll be interesting to see if we can leverage the Prius name or not," Fay said. "We've been debating that a lot within the company."
He also mentioned that the Prius brand name means a lot to consumers and the fuel-cell vehicle could fit right in.
"People equate Prius to a lot of things, it has a positive name out there regarding technology, innovative products and environmental friendliness," he said. " Fuel Cell is a little different, but we've done some work to see if we can leverage the Prius brand and use it with fuel cell technology, or if the car will have a different name."
Fay also made some connections between the importance of the new fuel cell vehicle and the original Prius hybrid.
"Potentially it really has a lot of positives similar to the Prius. When we launched the Prius over ten years ago, everyone was like 'what is this thing?' and now we've sold five million hybrids."
"We're very positive about the potential of the vehicle, primarily because it has zero emissions, it has outstanding range and takes only a couple of minutes to fill up the hydrogen tank," he added.
The company unveiled its hydrogen powered FCV concept in Tokyo earlier this week and re-iterated its plan to launch the vehicle in 2015. While other automakers may be able to beat them to the market, very few will be able to compete with the marketability of the Prius name.
Honda already working on NSX roadster
Honda doesn't do many convertibles. There was the original Sports 360, the Civic del Sol, the S2000 and the Beat. But so far, that's pretty much it. The previous NSX was offered with a targa-style top, but the latest reports indicate that the Japanese automaker is already working on a proper convertible version of the new NSX, to be sold once again as an Acura in North America and a Honda in other markets.
Although it's not yet known whether the NSX roadster will offer a hard or soft top, sources indicate that it won't be a mere removable roof panel. Whatever form it does take, however, expect it to arrive a good couple of years after the tin-top version launches in 2015 with a similar form to the concept but with different underpinnings and a radical interior.
Volkswagen Golf Goes Electric in Los Angeles
The Volkswagene-Golf has made its North American debut at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show.
As Volkswagen's first fully-electric vehicle to be offered in the U.S., the e-Golf will be an attractive choice to shoppers when it goes on sale in select states at the end of 2014. The e-Golf features a 115 hp electric motor while delivering 199 lb-ft of torque, allowing it to accelerate to 60 mph in 10.4 seconds.
Depending on how it's priced, the e-Golf could be the most affordable and reasonable electric vehicle on the market next year. According to the German automaker, the e-Golf will offer between 70 to 80 miles depending on driving conditions while a completely empty battery can be recharged in less than four hours with a 220-volt wallbox. Those that don't want to have a 220-volt wallbox installed at their household can get a standard 110/120-volt full charge in 20 hours.
On the exterior, the e-Golf is set apart with its LED headlights, 16-inch wheels, a C-shaped LED DRL signature in the front bumper and the lack of exhaust pipes.
Shelby GT name returns for 2014 Mustang with up to 624 hp
Earlier in the year, Shelby American unveiled the 1,200-horsepower Shelby 1000 wearing a price tag of $154,995. Now, the Las Vegas-based company is looking to meet the needs of budget-minded performance enthusiasts with the rebirth of the Shelby GT, which made its debut at the LA Auto Show.
"Budget-minded" is obviously very relative here, but the three levels of upgrades available on the 2014 Shelby GT do represent decent bang for the buck. After purchasing a stock 2014 Ford Mustang GT, which retails for $30,900, Shelby has three packages to improve the Mustang's performance and handling, with the all-in base price coming in at around $45,000.
For $14,995, Shelby will tune your Mustang to 430 horsepower (up from 420 hp) while adding a Borla exhaust, Panhard suspension bar and 20-inch wheels. Shelby also adds its own style with a fiberglass hood, billet grille, unique front fascia and "Shelby" badging on the trunk and seat head rests. If more power is what you're looking for, the Shelby GT/SC adds a Whipple supercharger, Wilwood brakes and performance Michelin tires – for the sum of $27,995. The GT/SC offers a considerable jump in horsepower with the choice of either 525 hp or 624 hp, the latter of which is claimed to give the car a 0-60 time of just 3.7 seconds.
2015 Ford Mustang to Make Official Debut on December 5
The wait is almost over. Ford will officially debut its 2015 Mustang on December 5, the American automaker has announced.
The sixth-generation Mustang will make its debut in six cities on four continents with reveal events taking place in Dearborn, Michigan; New York; Los Angeles; Barcelona; Shanghai and Sydney. Leading up to its official unveiling, Ford has released a new teaser image (seen above) of the iconic Mustang emblem and will be teaming up with Facebook and Instagram to showcase what the Mustang has meant to its millions of fans over the last 50 years. In fact, Ford will be using Instagram to release the first official image of the 2015 Mustang.
An earlier leak revealed that the 2015 Ford Mustang will launch with the 3.7-liter V6 (305 hp) and 5.0-liter V8 (420 hp) carried over from the current generation but will add a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine to the lineup with 310 hp.
"Mustang has come to be much more than just a car for its legions of fans spanning the globe from New Zealand to Iceland and Shanghai to Berlin," said Jim Farley, executive vice president of Ford global marketing, sales and service and Lincoln. "When you experience Mustang, it ignites a sense of optimism and independence that inspires us all."
Honda S660 Concept Proves Small can be Awesome
Hummer H2 owners may disagree, but there's absolutely nothing wrong with driving a small car. Injecting some excitement into this part of the market Hondaunleashed a sporty open-top mini model here in Tokyo.
Called the S660 Concept this unusually stylish little two-door is pretty appealing, though some golf carts are probably bigger. In Japan vehicles of this size are referred to as kei cars and they have special restrictions on size, engine displacement and output; suffice to say they're absolutely tiny.
2015 Lexus RC 300h is a hardcore hybrid cherry coupe
Lexus is tag-teaming back into the hardcore coupe ring with this, the red rum RC 300h that's jumping off the top rope to "[inject] emotional appeal into the Lexus DNA." It's the hybrid version of the twin, powered by a 2.5-liter V6 aided by a 105-kW electric motor, the pair putting out 217 total horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque through a continuously variable transmission. The RC's other, more conventional half will come with a 3.5-liter V6 with 314 hp and 380 lb-ft shifted with an eight-speed sequential transmission.
The brand doesn't want you to take this RC Coupe for a two-door version of the IS. It's based on the GS platform but its dimensions are unique, being wider, lower and shorter in wheelbase than the IS. Concept-car headlights flank the most extreme version of the spindle grille yet seen on a production car, and the lighting novelty continuing in the cabin with illumination that is aimed up instead of down. The package will ride on either 18- or 19-inch wheels.
The "high contrast," dual-zone cabin is graced with shimamoku wood and Lexus' Remote Touch Interface, and Lexus says the seats have been conceived via an "integrated foaming construction method" like racing seats – we think they look spectacular stitched up in this carmel-colored leather.
It's all about the driving eventually, though, the promise of the RC backed by a body made more rigid through supplemental adhesive in its construction, thicker rocker panels, underbody aerodynamics, double wishbones in front and a multi-link suspension in back. We're told the RC will exhilarate drivers instead of overwhelm. Rear-wheel drive will be standard, all-wheel drive will be offered in select markets.
2014 Lexus CT shows new face
As expected, the most prominent change made to the CT's styling is the addition of Lexus' signature spindle grille. Additional changes include new wheel options and revised front and rear fascias, but our favorite update to the car is to the headlights, where there is no longer a gap in the middle of the LED running lights. The luxury hatchback has also received some changes to the cabin, including an updated instrument gauge cluster, a new fixed nav screen that replaces the previous folding unit and a freshened combination of cabin materials.
No changes have been made to the CT's hybrid powertrain, meaning the model will carry on with a 134-horsepower 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder paired with a drive motor and an electronic continuously variable transmission. Fuel economy ratings likely won't stray too much from the 2013 model's 43 miles per gallon city and 40 mpg highway ratings.
The motivational force may not have change, but Lexus has stiffened up the CT's chassis and fine-tuned its suspension and aerodynamics in the name of reducing noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels. As with the current model, there will still be an F Sport offering, and in addition a more aggressive look, it will also maintain its firmer suspension. There is still no indication as to when the 2014 CT will go on sale or how much it will cost – the current car starts at around $32k –.
2014 Mazda6 earns Popular Mechanics' 'Car of the Year'
Ring one up for Mazda. The Japanese brand's midsize offering, the Mazda6, has been named Popular Mechanics' Car of the Year. The 6 received a comprehensive reworking for the 2014 model year that saw it adopt sleek, sexy sheet metal; a clean, logical interior; and powertrain technologies that allow it to net some of the best fuel economy available in a gas-powered, non-hybrid sedan.
Popular Mechanics praised the 6's Skyactiv 2.5-liter, 184-horsepower engine, as well as its agility and responsiveness during testing. It also remarked on the functional, but well designed cabin, and the degree of available technology.
"The Mazda6 really impressed us with how well it delivers so many things modern car owners want: great mileage, fun road-handling, upscale features and looks - and remarkable value," said Jim Meigs, Editor-in-Chief of Popular Mechanics.
"To be named Car of the Year by a publication as esteemed as Popular Mechanics is as flattering as it is humbling," said Mazda's president and CEO, Jim O'Sullivan.
Toyota, Lexus dominate KBB's Best Resale Value Awards
Toyota and Lexus stormed the 2014 Kelley Blue Book Best Resale Value Awards, winning a combined 18 categories including best brand and best luxury brand. This marks the third year in a row that both automakers have won the Brand and Luxury Brand resale value awards. In all, Toyota won 11 categories and Lexus won seven.
Honda made a good showing, as well, winning two segments (Accord Plug-In Hybrid and Civic Si) and putting one car on the top-10 Best Resale Value list (CR-V). Chevrolet did even better, winning two segments (with the V6 Camaro and the Corvette) and placing three cars on the top-10-overall list (again, the Camaro and Corvette, plus the Silverado 1500).
The other winners came from Jeep, Dodge, Infiniti, Subaru and Audi. To give you a clearer picture of the Toyota and Lexus domination, their 18 mentions represents more than half of the 34 awards (including the top-10-overall list).
Here's the Top 10 Cars list:
- Chevrolet Camaro
- Jeep Wrangler
- Chevrolet Corvette
- Toyota FJ Cruiser
- Chevrolet Silverado 1500
- Toyota Tacoma
- Dodge Challenger
- Toyota Tundra
- Honda CR-V
- Toyota 4Runner
Toyota Donates $500K of Relief Money for Philippines
Toyota has pledged $500,000 in donations to support relief efforts in the Phillipines.
Residents of the Phillipines have barely begun the recovery process from the devastating typhoon that hit their shores, but relief aid has been pouring in from all around the world. Toyota will donate $250,000 to theAmerican Red Crossto support relief efforts along with a previous donation of 10-million Phillipines pesos.
"On behalf of Toyota, we express our sincere condolences to the families affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and surrounding areas," said Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota North America. "Thanks to the generosity of our associates and team members, Toyota's giving will go even further to help families in need."
Combined, the donation is nearly $500,000 but the Japanese automaker will also be matching employee contributions to the American Red Crossand other non-profits doing relief and recovery work in the region.
2014 Acura MDX and RDX Earn Top NHTSA Crash Scores
While other automakers are struggling to meet standards set by new crash tests, Honda and Acura are putting out winners, at least according to the latest round of NHTSA crash testing.
Acura proudly announced today that its two crossovers scored a 5-star overall vehicle score by NHTSA, thanks to impressive performance in both front and side impact tests. While both impact tests resulted in a five-star rating, the cars also scored an acceptable four-star rating for rollover resistance.
With these top scores from NHTSA, Acura expects its cars to get the top "good" rating from the IIHS in the recently introduced frontal overlap crash test, a score that few automakers are seeing. As a result the brand also believes the MDX will earn the prized "Top Safety Pick+" rating from the IIHS and thinks the RDX is good for a "Top Safety Pick" as well.
This marks a bit of a streak for the Japanese automaker, as its Civic compact and Odyssey minivan both scored top marks recently for crash safety. This recent success should help Honda and Acura win marks with consumers especially after 400,000 vehicles were recalled for faulty air-bag sensors.
Honda flaunts freshened 2014 Civic Coupe at SEMA
Honda took the wraps off its 2014 Civic Coupe (red car pictured above) and 2014 Civic Si (gray car in thegallery below) at SEMA today, revealing a mid-cycle refresh for each model. The standard Civic coupe benefits from several cosmetic enhancements, while the Civic Si gets the bulk of its improvements under the hood – precisely where the enthusiasts want them.
The best-selling Civic Coupe sports a new front fascia that is "fun and sporty," says the automaker. The more aggressive snout is a step in the proper direction, as its new shape and exclusive grille design gives the two-door a distinctive appearance that sets it apart from its sedan sibling. The rear end follows the same design language, as the lower portion of the urethane bumper gains some character – its smooth surface has been resculpted and recontoured. Newly available 18-inch wheels complete the exterior transformation.
The 2014 Civic Si benefits from a larger spoiler and new wheels, but the big news is in the powertrain. Honda has massaged the 2.4-liter i-VTEC engine and opened up the exhaust system. As a result, output climbs to 205 horsepower (up from 201) and torque increases to 174 pound-feet (up from 170). The power gains aren't extraordinary, but they should allow the coupe to hit 60 miles per hour from a standstill in about six seconds flat and still return over 30 mpg on the open road. Scroll down for the official release.
Lexus & BMW Working Together on a Hybrid Supercar?
Peter Lyon from Motoring Australia is reporting that BMW & Lexus are working on a next-generation LFA supercar:
It's been nearly two years since Toyota and BMW announced an agreement to co-develop sports cars using state-of-the-art hybrid technologies, and now a source close to the two companies says the pair has decided on its first joint-venture.
In all their wisdom, executives citing the high cost of developing a high-performance sports car with lightweight materials have opted for a $300,000-plus Lexus LFA-style package, but with a hybrid twist.
Lyon speculates that this new supercar would be powered by the BMW M5′s 4.4-liter turbo V8 and the Lexus hybrid system, with the chassis developed using carbon fiber techniques from both the Lexus LFA & the BMW i8 — if correct, this would certainly make for a potent mixture of speed and performance.
This rumor seemed outlandish when it was first mentioned in Best Car magazine last week, as the partnership between the companies was expected to focus on BMW & Toyota — I'm lukewarm on BMW engines in Lexus vehicles, but it's far too early to say what the end result will be. A very interesting turn-of-events, to be sure.
2015 Honda Fit Hybrid Gets 35% Bump in Fuel Economy
Honda has announced that its all-new Fit Hybrid will boast a 35 percent bump in fuel economy compared to its current lineup of 1.5-liter 4-cylinder hybrid powertains offered in cars like the CR-Z and Civic Hybrid.
The new Fit, which is the first model to be equipped with the automaker's new Sport Hybrid Intelligent Dual Clutch Drive (i-DCD), will go on sale in Japan this September before heading to the U.S. as a 2015 model. According to a report by Automotive News, the subcompact hatchback won't offer the hybrid system in the US, though a crossover based on the same platform will.
The i-DCD is Honda's lightweight and compact one-motor hybrid system built for small vehicles and is part of its Earth Dreams lineup of next-generation powertrains.
The 2015 Honda Fit Hybrid will be powered by a 1.5-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder engine with the Sport Hybrid i-DCD consisting of a seven-speed dual-clutch system. According to the Japanese automaker, the system automatically changes to three driving modes by engaging and disengaging the engine depending on driving situations. The three modes on the Fit Hybrid are the EV Drive Mode for motor-only driving, the Hybrid Drive Mode for both engine and motor driving, and the Engine Drive Mode for engine-only driving. The Fit Hybrid will generate 135 horsepower and 125 lb-ft of torque and is expected to achieve at least 55 mpg in the U.S.
Honda is also boasting that the 2015 Honda Fit Hybrid will feature the highest fuel economy among all hybrid models in Japan.
In Japan the 2015 Honda Fit will also be available in an RS model with a 1.5-liter engine and six-speed manual transmission, while a 1.3-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder will also be available with 98 horsepower and 88 lb-ft of torque with a new CVT.
It's not clear which versions will be offered in North America, though the the 2015 Fit will be manufactured in North America at the automaker's new plant in Mexico.
2015 Mustang to Kick Off with 1,000 Limited Edition 2014.5 Models
When the next-generation Ford Mustang arrives, it'll be kicked off with a special edition run as a 2014.5 model year, limited to 1,000 units.
The limited 1,000 units will be the first Mustangs based on the new S550 platform and will undoubtedly become an instant collectors' item, with each one sporting a special VIN and build number. As for hoping that it'll be a high-performance variant, prepare to be disappointed. According to reports, the 2014.5 Mustang won't feature any additional upgrades compared to the standard 2015 Mustang, but there's a possibility of some special badging to commemorate the car's 50th anniversary.
The next-generation Mustang is expected to come with several engine choices: a 2.3-liter, EcoBoost four-cylinder with around 350 horsepower, the base-model V6, and a 5.0-liter Coyote V8 with upwards of 450 horsepower. The 2015 Ford Mustang will feature an independent rear and we should be seeing a glimpse of it before the end of the year.
2015 Lexus RC F Caught Testing on the Nürburgring
After being uncovered yesterday, the LexusRC-F coupe is strutting its stuff today, hitting the Nürburgring for some testing, and AutoGuide's spy photographers were on hand to capture it in action.
The Lexus RC will be replacing the IS coupe, and its high-performance RC-F model is essentially a next-generation IS-F in coupe form. As first glance, some would say that its front-end changes reflect a baby LFA model, with its aggressive air intakes on the front corners and wider rear fenders.
The powerplant for the RC-F is being kept under wraps, but it's believed that it'll have around 450 horsepower when it debuts, whether it's in a turbocharged six-cylinder or a more fuel- and emission-efficient V8. The RC-F is expected to make its debut at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, while the standard RC coupe will be unveiled at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show.
Third Annual Toyota 100 Cars For Good Program Continues to Impact
TORRANCE, Calif. (July 15, 2013) - For the third year in a row, Toyota's 100 Cars for Goodphilanthropic program will invite the public to select another 100 worthy organizations nationwide that will receive a Toyota vehicle. Beginning July 22, registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations can apply online at www.100carsforgood.com explaining how a new vehicle would support their work. Based on individuals' votes, Toyota will give away two cars per day for 50 days to selected organizations.
Since 2011, 100 Cars for Good has put 200 cars on the road to benefit organizations and causes that touch real lives – from transporting disabled adults and taking zoo animals to schools, to restoring homes flooded by Superstorm Sandy.
Toyota Saves Trees…by the Billions
How do you save a few billion trees and a billion bucks? Boot the box. Kick the carton. Punt the packaging.
More than a decade ago, Toyota began using returnable containers for shipping parts and accessories. The environmental impact so far: saving 220 million pounds of wood and 145 million pounds of cardboard, the equivalent of 2.7 billion trees. It also adds up to $1 billion in cost savings for the company...and that's no pulp fiction.
Toyota Donates $50,000 to Help Victims and Families Affected by Arizona Fire
NEW YORK (July 10, 2013) - Toyota today announced a $50,000 donation, to be divided between the 100 Club of Arizona and the Yarnell (Ariz.) Community Center, to aid and support families of the 19 firefighters who lost their lives and the families who lost their homes in the recent Arizona fire.
"On behalf of Toyota, we express our sincere condolences to the families that have lost loved ones and homes in this tragic event," said Latondra Newton, group vice president, national philanthropy and the Toyota USA Foundation. "Our thoughts go out to everyone in the community."
Toyota has operations and offices near the affected areas, with the Toyota Arizona Proving Ground (TAPG), Toyota's largest vehicle evaluation investment in the United States, being located in Wittmann and Toyota Financial Services customer and dealer service centers near Phoenix.
Since 2001, Toyota and its North American employees have donated nearly $15 million in charitable funds and vehicles, as well as the skill-based volunteerism of Toyota's employees to support disaster relief efforts across the United States.
Honda, Lexus Top Best CPO Value Awards
Honda, Lexus and GMC are your best bets when shopping for a Certified Pre-Owned car, claiming top spots in their respective classes in the first ever Vincentric Best CPO Value in America Awards.
Top marks went to Honda for the best value passenger car brand while Lexus took home the award for the best luxury brand. GMC was awarded the best CPO value in the truck class.
Awards are determined based on which vehicles have a lower than expected ownership cost based on their market segment and price. Cost of ownership is based on eight criteria: depreciation, fees and taxes, financing, fuel, insurance, maintenance, opportunity cost and repairs.
"The Vincentric Best CPO Value in America awards recognizes the efforts manufacturers have put into quality improvements," says David Wurster, President of Vincentric. "These improvements, supported by strong CPO warranties, provide value to buyers of certified pre-owned vehicles. When a great vehicle is combined with a great CPO program, more and more consumers will consider a certified pre-owned vehicle."
2014 Mazda3 Sedan Fully Revealed in Leaked Images
The first photos of the 2014 Mazda3 sedan has leaked onto the Internet, ahead of the car's official debut.
Looking very much like the hatchback counterpart that was revealed last month, the 2014 Mazda3 sedan almost looks like a baby Mazda6. A longer roofline streaks down to a cleanly designed rear end with a large trunk.
As expected, the interior of the sedan is identical to the hatchback and powerplant choices are expected to be the same as well in America: a 2.0-liter with 155 hp and an option 2.5-liter with 184 hp.
The 2014 Mazda3 sedan is expected to go on sale towards the end of this year.
Toyota Prius Passes 3 Million Global Sales Mark
Toyota has announced that its Prius vehicle has passed the three million unit mark in global sales.
Originally launched in 1997 as the world's first mass-produced hybrid passenger car, the Prius got a boom when its second-generation model debuted in 2003. But it was the third-generation Prius in 2009 that helped make the model's sales soar, helping spawn the Prius v, Prius c, and Prius plug-in hybrid variants.
Arguably, the Prius paved the way to the market success of hybrid vehicles, and the Japanese automaker will continue investing heavily into its Prius model and hybrid technology. Toyota has announced that it will pour over $7.9 billion into environmental technology development which will include a new research and development facility. The money will also go toward expanding its powertrain Development and production engineering building, as well as its aerodynamics laboratory.
Ford builds USAF Thunderbirds Edition Mustang for charity
Each year since 2008, Ford has created a one-off Mustang to celebrate military aviation, and the cars have been auctioned off at the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Gathering of Eagles charity event to raise money to inspire the next generation of aviators. This year's charity car is the 2014 Ford Mustang GT US Air Force Thunderbirds Edition, which also helps celebrate 60 years of Thunderbirds air show excellence.
Of all the EAA charity cars, this Thunderbirds Edition is the most in depth. Painted to match the F-16 Falcon fighter jets used by Thunderbirds, this Mustang also gets a widebody kit and 22-inch Forgiato wheels to go with the cockpit's Recaro bucket seats, rear-seat delete and modified navigation screen and gauge cluster. Even the Mustang's projector puddle lights have been changed to show an aircraft silhouette - rather than the Mustang's galloping horse logo – when the doors are open.
Toyota Motor Sales No. 1 Retail Manufacturer in May 2013
TMS Remains Hybrid Leader with Double-Digit Gains; Lexus Luxury Sedans Up Nearly 30 Percent May 2013 Sales Chart
TORRANCE, Calif. (June 3, 2013) - Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc., today reported May 2013 sales results of 207,952 units, an increase of 2.5 percent over May 2012 on both a volume and daily selling rate (DSR) basis.
Toyota Division posted May 2013 sales of 185,723 units, up 2.3 percent year-over-year on both a volume and DSR basis.
"New vehicle sales are heating up along with the weather, and solid May results coupled with an excellent Memorial Day weekend provide great momentum as we move into the summer selling season," said Bill Fay, Toyota Division group vice president and general manager. "The five-year high in consumer confidence translated into especially strong retail sales and as the industry leader last month, we're well-positioned to provide the vehicles customers want."
Lexus reported May 2013 sales of 22,229 units, up 3.6 percent on both a volume and DSR basis compared to the same period last year.
"Luxury vehicle sales are benefitting from the rise in consumer confidence," said Jeff Bracken, Lexus group vice president and general manager. "The ES and LS are two of the hottest models in the luxury industry with sales doubling in May, and we expect this momentum to carry through the summer months."
- TMS retail sales up 7.5 percent
- TMS hybrids increased 16.7 percent
- Toyota Division No. 1 retail brand for third consecutive month
- Camry is best-selling car in America, with sales of 39,216 units
- Prius family records best month in a year, increasing nearly 10 percent
- All-new Avalon increased more than 260 percent, with sales of 7,099 units
- All-new RAV4 posted best-ever May sales of 20,780 units, up 8 percent
- Tacoma continued to lead segment with sales of 14,727 units, up 20 percent
- Tundra recorded sales of 9,950 units, up 13.5 percent
- Scion FR-S led Scion Division with sales of 1,937 units
- Lexus LS increased 117 percent, with sales of 996 units
- Lexus ES reported sales of 5,890 units, up 100.5 percent
*Note: Unless otherwise stated, all figures reflect unadjusted raw sales volume
2014 Acura MDX priced from $42,290*
The fully redesigned 2014 MDX goes on sale in July, and Acura has now confirmed that its largest crossover will be priced at $42,290 (*plus $895 for destination). Unlike previous MDX models, Acura will offer the 2014 model with both front- and all-wheel drive (the automaker's fantastic Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive, at that), and this base price is for the standard, two-wheel-drive MDX model. At the base level, this new pricing represents a $990 decrease over the outgoing, AWD-only 2013 model.
Four trim levels will be offered across the range, all of which use Acura's direct-injected 3.5-liter V6 engine good for 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Standard features include things like push-button start, Acura's fancy new Jewel Eye LED headlights, the next-generation AcuraLink system, an eight-inch multi-function display screen, blind spot monitoring and a premium sound system.
Moving up from there, the Technology package ($46,565) gains 19-inch wheels (18s are standard), forward collision warning, lane departure warning, a color TFT display, rain-sensing wipers and more. The Entertainment Package (bundled into one $48,565 model) adds rear seat entertainment to all of that. At the top end, the MDX Advance model gets unique wheels, remote engine start, 12-speaker ELS premium audio, adaptive cruise control and more. Adding Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive to any of these models results in a $2,000 price jump.
We'll be posting our full First Drive of the MDX later today, so stay tuned for even more details and impressions at that time. In the meantime, click through our massive high-res gallery above to see plenty of pretty new MDX photos.
New Mazda3 Hatchback Revealed in Magazine?
A picture taken from the pages of a Japanese magazine might have prematurely revealed the new Mazda3 hatchback
The new hatchback will run on Mazda's SkyActiv platform with the company's KODO "soul of motion" design language first seen on the CX-5 small crossover. While Mazda hasn't officially announced when it will begin delivering the new compact car, past reports suggest some dealers expect to start receiving them late this year.
Mazda is aiming to increase its sales beyond 300,000 units per year in North America for 2013. Given that the Mazda3 is its top seller, offering it this year could make sense.
Joe Bacal & Lexus LX 570 Win Stock Full Class in Baja 500 Race
Joe Bacal and the JTGrey team have won the Stock Full class with their Lexus LX 570 in this weekend's Baja 500 race. The team finished the race with an (unofficial) time of 20 hours & 15 minutes.
Driver Joe Bacal 'ironmanned' the entire 500 miles, driving without relief. Motocross racer Kalani Inez was the co-driver the first 230 miles, and Lexus International's Paul Williamsen took over for the remaining 270 miles.
Congratulations to Joe & the entire team on the victory!
Volkswagen of San Bernardino
The newest addition to the Wilson Automotive Group family!
April 4 was an exciting day for the Wilson Automotive Group – and for the City of San Bernardino. That was the day we broke ground for our 17th dealership: Volkswagen of San Bernardino.
The Mayor, City Council members, VW executives and Wilson corporate employees took turns with shovels and hard hats to celebrate this exciting addition to the San Bernardino Auto Center. Casey Griffin, of Logan Asset Management, who orchestrated the acquisition and worked with city officials to bring this project to fruition, commented: "The Wilson Group is very excited about opening their first Volkswagen dealership and becoming a part of the community of San Bernardino."
Situated on 3.5 acres in the San Bernardino Auto Center and fronting the 215 Freeway, the dealership will cover about 34,000 square feet and house 17 service bays. Projected sales of 60 new and 40 used vehicles per month will support 50 full-time employees.
Derrick Van Nieulande has been tapped to be the new general manager. Derrick has been with the Wilson Group for 15 years, most recently as the general sales manager of Newport Lexus, and says he is excited about his transition to Volkswagen. "I am proud to represent the quality Volkswagen product; and I know our store and our employees will add a positive synergy to the auto center and the community."
The dealership plans to open for business November 15. For more information, or to apply for employment, go to the corporate website, www.DavidWilsonAutoGroup.com, or Email: email@example.com.
2013 Honda Civic Receives Five-Star Safety Rating
The 2013 Honda Civic sedan has been awarded a five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The Civic sedan scored four stars on the frontal crash test, five stars on the side impact test, and four stars for rollover protection, giving it a five-star overall rating. The coupe on the other hand, while it had the same scores on each individual test, was awarded a four-star rating since crash dummies received more significant injuries in side-impact crash tests.
The 2013 Honda Civic sedan was also named a Top Safety Pick+ from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and was the first small, compact car to meet the new standard.
Pricing for the Honda Civic sedan starts at $18,955 including a $790 destination charge.
Lexus LF-LC Production Model in 2016?
Car & Driver is reporting that a production model based on the Lexus LF-LC concept could be released in 2016:
A two-plus-two sports coupe concept from Toyota's California design studio that could be Lexus's answer to the Aston Martin DB9 if, of course, it reaches production. More expensive and more driver-oriented than the defunct SC430 convertible, this “poor man's LFA” (it'll cost about half as much) will squeeze at least 500 horsepower from its hybrid powertrain.
A 2016 release date lines up with previous rumors - the magazine also suggests that the production LF-LC will be powered by a hybrid V8 power train and priced just below $200,000.
Ford Fusion Energi Earns Five-Star Safety Rating
The 2013 FordFusion Energi has been awarded a five-star Overall Vehicle Score in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) New Car Assessment Program (NCAP).
The Energi plug-in hybrid's five-star rating is no real surprise considering the other Fusion models also received five-star safety ratings. NHTSA, however, has chosen to test plug-in vehicles separately since the market share of electrified vehicles continues to grow.
The 2013 Ford Fusion was also named a Top Safety Pick+ from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and is rated at 108 MPGe.
“The Fusion Energi combines the highest possible safety ratings from NHTSA and great fuel economy, two things we know customers are looking for in their vehicles,” said Steve Kenner, Global Director of the Ford Automotive Safety Office. “Our strategy is to provide our customers with a range of powertrain options in our vehicles, while still leading in fuel economy in every segment that we compete.”
BMW-Toyota sports car heading towards Tokyo debut
Earlier this year, BMW and Toyota confirmed a four-part joint venture mostly focusing on increasing improving vehicle efficiency using fuel cells, lightweight materials and better battery technology. Also tucked into the announcement was a "feasibility study" for a shared platform to underpin a future midsize "sports vehicle."
In terms of the latter, it seems that things have stepped up from the feasibility stage to the conceptual stage, as Motor Trend reports we could see a pair of new sports car concepts debut later this year in at the Tokyo Motor Show. There isn't much information about the new program, but the article suggests the sports cars could be all-wheel drive hybrids, with electric motors powering the front wheels and a gas engine powering the rear wheels. While a partnership between Toyota and BMW might not lend itself to a catchy portmanteau like "Toyobaru," here's hoping it will bear fruit that is as exciting as the ones produced by the Toyota/Subaru tie up.
2015 Mazda3 spied for the first time
In terms of exterior appearance, not much has changed from the last time we spotted the next-generation Mazda3 out testing. Oh, sure - we can see plenty of details that clearly show the new Kodo design influence (that front end reminds us a whole lot of the sleek new Mazda6), but these latest round of spy shots don't really show us anything we haven't seen before. Oh, wait, yes they do - the interior.
2015 Mazda3 interiorFeast your eyes on the Mazda3's insides, showing a vastly reworked interior that also takes cues from the automaker's most recently refreshed products. We can see that there's a simple, clean center stack with a slim row of heating and cooling functions, and up top there's a large, presumably touchscreen display, with redundant controls found just aft of the shifter.
We expect that the 2015 Mazda3 will debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show this September, packing both petrol and diesel engines. A sedan variant is also in the works, and should debut shortly after the hatchback.
Lexus Japan Releases Very First 2014 IS Commercial
Lexus Planning to Build Small Two-Seat Roadster?
According to Motor Trend, Lexus may be building a small two-seat roadster as a result of the recent BMW/Toyota partnership - here's a quote from the latest issue of the magazine:
Sources in Japan say Toyota's version (of the joint BMW/Toyota sports car) will actually underpin an all-new Lexus sports car, a suggestion that makes all the sense in the world given Akio Toyoda's ambition to make Lexus a genuine global rival to the German lux-meisters. Whisper is the new Lexus will be positioned to compete with the Mercedes SLK, BMW Z4, and entry-level Porsche Boxster.
If I understand this correctly, this would be an additional vehicle beyond the rumored RC mid-size coupe - if true, this could be a major shift in the way Lexus approaches mass production vehicles, as niche market models have never been a priority with the brand.
The strategy reminds me of this Akio Toyoda quote from Automotive News:
"When we have a design screening, my role is to simply talk with the right side of the brain," Toyoda said. "There are already enough people at Toyota who use the left side of the brain. You need to be able to say, 'Wow! I want that!'"
2015 Acura NSX to be Produced at New Performance Manufacturing Center in OhioAcura has announced that the all-new NSX will be produced at Honda's new Performance Manufacturing Center in Ohio.
The production facility will cost the Japanese automaker $70 million and will encompass 184,000 square feet housed inside Honda's former North American Logistics facility. It will also be in the midst of Honda's existing R&D and production engineering operations.
The new production facility will be Honda's third plant in Ohio and is merely a few miles away from Honda R&D Americas, Inc. Ohio Center that is also engineering the supercar for production. Approximately 100 manufacturing associates will be employed at the site while associates from Honda's engine plant in Anna, Ohio will assemble the NSX's powertrain.
The automaker also announced today that Honda R&D chief engineer Ted Klaus is leading the global team developing the new NSX while Clement D'Souza, associate chief engineer at Honda of America, is leading the production team for the NSX.
"We have a very clear understanding of the high customer expectations luxury buyers around the world have for a supercar, and our challenge is to exceed them and create new value for the customer," said Klaus. "This new Performance Manufacturing Center will be key to this challenge."
Toyota Overtakes BMW as Most Valuable Global Car Brand
Automotive News reports that Toyota has overtaken BMW as the most valuable automotive brand, an annual ranking of the world's top brands shows. The value of the Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and Hyundai brands improved by double-digit percentages compared with 2012, largely because of strong demand in China and the United States, according to the BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands study released by market research company Millward Brown on Monday. Toyota's 2013 brand value rose 12 percent to $24.5 billion largely because of its significant inroads in the hybrid market, according to the study. "Toyota is carving out a very big position in hybrids across its range, which is tapping into the consumer need for value by saving fuel cost," Peter Walshe, Millward Brown global brand director, told Automotive News. BMW's brand value dipped by 2 percent to $24 billion, according to the study, because of the German automaker's lack of new product launches compared with past years. "The automotive brands that grew the most were the ones that launched the most models," Walshe said. "BMW remains a very powerful and distinctive brand." Read more about the most valuable global car brands here.
Toyota Donates $1 Million to Support Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts; Reports No Significant Hurricane-Related Impact on its North American Operations
Toyota today announced a $1 million contribution to the American Red Cross and other nonprofit organizations to support relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Sandy in the regions worst-hit by the storm. In addition, Toyota will match employee contributions to the American Red Cross and other non-profits doing relief and recovery work in affected communities.
Commenting on the donation, Shigeki Terashi, president and chief operating officer of Toyota Motor North America, Inc., said, "On behalf of Toyota, we express our sincere condolences to the families affected by Hurricane Sandy. Since we have operations and many dealerships in the affected regions, we felt a special responsibility to lend a hand. In addition to this contribution, many Toyota employees are already involved in volunteer activities to support those in need. We very much appreciate their support."
Beginning Nov. 1, Toyota Financial Services (TFS) and Lexus Financial Services (LFS) will launch a "Customer Outreach" calling campaign to lease and retail customers who are delinquent, or become delinquent, due to circumstances related to the storm and who reside in the 13 states directly impacted by the hurricane (CT, DC, DE, MA, MD, ME, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VA, VT and WV) and in the District of Columbia. This campaign will determine if these customers may be eligible to take advantage of payment relief options, some of which include:
- extensions and lease deferred payments;
- redirecting billing statements;
- and arranging phone or on-line payments
Toyota Financial customers with questions about their account should call (800) 874-8822. Lexus Financial customers with questions about their account should call (800) 874-7050. Qualified residents residing in FEMA-designated areas (of the above-mentioned states and the District) needing to purchase a vehicle may also take advantage of a 90 Day Deferred First Payment Program designed to assist customers with their transportation needs as they work through the recovery process. This program is for a limited time and only available through participating Toyota and Lexus dealers and TFS/LFS.
Toyota Operations Toyota continues to assess the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy to its operations on the East Coast and reports no known injuries to associates, family members and dealer employees. The storm had the biggest impact on company operations and dealerships in the New Jersey area. Some regional/branch offices, as well as Toyota, Lexus and Scion dealerships, were affected by flooding and power outages. Toyota Logistics Services operations at the Port of Newark (N.J.) sustained water damage to its buildings and a number of vehicles.
Toyota Assembles 25 Millionth Vehicle in North America
Toyota celebrated the 25 millionth vehicle manufactured in North America today at a ceremony at its Georgetown, Ky., plant coinciding with the start of production for the all-new 2013 Avalon. The milestone vehicle - a Classic Silver Hybrid Avalon - represents 26 years of manufacturing, a direct investment of nearly $24 billion in North American operations and 365,000 jobs created in the United States.
Speaking at a line-off ceremony in Georgetown today, Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky President Wil James said, "This is a pivotal time in Toyota's history. What better way to cap off 26 years of manufacturing excellence than with the all-new Kentucky-assembled Avalon, a shining example of what our customers have to look forward to in the future."
To learn more, please click on www.toyotanewsroom.com
Toyota Prius is California's Best Selling Car
If you live in California, this won't come as a surprise to you at all. The Toyota Prius is the best-selling car in the state - sort of.
In fact, it's not the traditional Prius model by itself that has tallied more sales than rivals like the Honda Civic, Accord and the Toyota Camry, but rather the Prius family of cars.
Nine months into 2012, Toyota has sold 46,380 Prius models to California drivers according to the California New Cars Dealers Association in its California Auto Outlook report. With gas prices continuing to rise in California, it's no surprise that demand for the fuel-efficient Prius has also risen.
In total, 1.25 million new cars have been sold in California through September this year, which is 11 percent of the total nationwide sales of 10.9 million. The Prius however, has sold 183,340 nationwide, which means California drivers have accounted for 25 percent of the total Prius sales.
To learn more, please click on http://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/2012/10/toyota-prius-is-californias-best-selling-car.html
Honda, Ohio State Co-Develop Driving Simulator
The new Driving Simulator Laboratory will be designed to conduct advanced research into distracted driving and other issues that affect driver behavior and road safety. It will be co-developed by Honda R&D Americas and the Ohio State University Office of Research.
"This new simulator will help us further strengthen our local research capabilities to gain an even deeper understanding of our customers and to advance our ability to create even more safe, smart and intuitive Honda and Acura products," said Frank Paluch, senior vice president of Honda R&D America's Inc.
The main simulator will feature a full cab, mounted to a six-degrees-of-freedom motion platform with a 240-degree wraparound projection screen. High-resolution, edge-blended visuals will display a wide variety of driving situations to simulate real-world scenarios. A second simulator will also be developed to optimize the testing for production vehicles.
To read the article, go to: http://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/2012/10/honda-ohio-state-co-develop-driving-simulator.html.
Lexus LF-LC Blue Concept is a 500 HP Hybrid
Following up on the Lexus LF-LC concept that debuted earlier this year at the Detroit Auto Show, the Japanese automaker just unveiled its LF-LC Blue concept in Australia.
The LF-LC Blue concept uses carbon fiber technology from the brand's LFA supercar and also features the next-generation Lexus Hybrid Drive system with a high-energy battery pack. Finished in a unique Opal Blue that's been inspired by the country's precious stone, the LF-LC Blue concept looks right at home in Australia.
The Advanced Lexus Hybrid Drive system features a powerful and efficient Atkinson cycle combustion engine mated to an advanced high-energy battery pack. Combined, the LF-LC Blue concept has an output of 500 hp, which is the most of any Lexus hybrid.
The LF-LC Blue concept is also packed with state-of-the-art technology, previewing the direction that Lexus is heading with its interior electronics. A pair of 12.3-inch LCD screens provide information and navigation, while inputs come from a touchscreen interface in the center console. The interior is treated with a variety of smooth leather, suede, brushed metal trim and wood accents. To read the article, go to: http://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/2012/10/lexus-lf-lc-blue-concept-is-a-500-hp-hybrid.html#more-161241
Toyota Tundra Successfully Tows the Space Shuttle - Video
A stock Toyota Tundra hauled the nearly 300,000 lbs. space shuttle and towing rig a total of 12 miles this past Friday, delivering the ship to its final resting place at the California Science Center.
Toyota and the California science center have had a partnership that spans back 20 years that has helped raise awareness of the space program. "We've partnered with the California Science Center since the early '90s as part of our ongoing commitment to inspiring youth in the fields of engineering, innovation and future technology, and we are honored to lend our support for this historic event," said Michael Rouse, vice president of community affairs and philanthropy for Toyota.
To read the full article click here
Honda Civic Natural Gas Buyers Getting $3,000 Gas Card
Those looking for ways to fight against the recent rise in gas prices might want to consider a 2012 Honda Civic, the Natural Gas model to be more specific. The Japanese automaker has teamed up with Clean Energy to give $3,000 fuel cards to new buyers.
Compressed natural gas is currently $2 cheaper than gasoline, and since the Honda Civic Natural Gas gets a combined EPA fuel economy rating of 31, up to 40 percent can be saved compared to a traditional gasoline car. The 2012 Civic Natural Gas also qualifies for a single-occupant HOV carpool decal in California and other states.
Read the full article at http://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/2012/10/honda-civic-natural-gas-buyers-getting-3000-gas-card.html#more-159994.
Lexus LFA Nurburgring Beats Executive Jet in Race
Unconventional to say the least, Lexus pitted its LFA Nurburgring Edition supercar against an Eclipse 500 jet in a race yesterday.
The event took place in Longmont, Colo. and involved running both vessels down a 4,800-foot runway before pulling a u-turn to cover the same distance. Exciting as the idea of a car racing a jet might be, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the LFA won by two seconds.
It ran like this: the jet crossed the starting line already travelling 150 knots (about 173 mph) at which point Scott Pruett, who drive the LFA, hammered on the gas. Both the car and plane would travel the runway's distance before making the aforementioned u-turn to repeat the same distance.
To read the full article Click Here
Ford Shows Off Composite Tech With Carbon Fiber Hood
Carbon fiber, typically used in race cars and high-end sports cars, is now making its way on conventional vehicles as automakers find a more efficient way in cutting costs on the lightweight material.
Ford showed off its newest carbon fiber technology that could be used to help improve fuel economy on its hybrid and electric vehicles. The prototype carbon fiber hood is the American automaker's first step in manufacturing an affordable version of the material that could help cut the weight of its vehicles by up to 749 lbs by the end of this decade.
The automaker has teamed up with Dow Automotive Systems to develop a more affordable way of manufacturing automotive-grade carbon fiber for high-volume applications.
To read the full article Click Here
Scion FR-S the First of Three Sports Cars Says Chief Engineer
The Toyota GT86 or Scion FR-S as it's known on our shores may just be the best new sports car in a generation, but it certainly won't be the last of its kind. According to chief engineer Tetsuya Tada, the FR-S is just the first of three planned sports cars by the world's largest automaker.
Speaking to Top Gear in the Philippines, Tada not only confirmed that two more cars are coming, but let slip details about where they will fit in in the Toyota lineup.
Surprisingly, as impressive a performance bargain as the FR-S is, it will fill the middle slot in the brand's new sports car lineup.
"The first is more mass-market and cheaper than the 86," Tada said. And the third, well, it's, "more upmarket than the 86."
To read the full article Click Here
Ford Claims Best Fuel Economy at Montreal Green Rally
Vehicles don't try to race around the course as quickly as possible at the Montreal Green Rally.
Part of the FIA Alternative Energies Cup, participants drive their vehicle on a predefined course at normal speeds to determine fuel and energy consumption.
"It was a terrific race and the Ford Focus Electric was a definite asset in terms of getting best energy economy. Ford got it right when they developed this vehicle, the brake regeneration system is incredibly efficient," said Sylvain Juteau, who recently made automotive history by being the first to drive to the top of Mount Washington in his own Ford Focus Electric.
This year, Sylvain Juteau and Bruno Guglielminetti claimed a podium finish for Ford of Canada with a 2012 Ford Focus Electric at the event. The Focus Electric came in first place in the energy consumption standings and second place overall in the all-electric standings at the two-day event.
To read the full article Click Here
Accord Hybrid Might be US-Built in 2015
Anyone interested in buying a hybrid Honda Accord had better not hold their breath - there won't be many making it to the U.S.
That's because the strong yen is forcing Honda's export costs high enough to seriously squeeze profit margins, something the conservative company might soon change by relocating some of its production to the U.S.
Honda chief engineer Chitoshi Yokota told Japanese newspaper Nikkei Sangyo business daily that those changes might be coming soon.
"We won't be able to expand the business unless we come to be able to procure and make the battery and the motor locally, maybe around 2015," he said.
But when that happens, customers can expect to see more Accord hybrids in North American showrooms although it still isn't clear where Honda will move Accord production when that shift takes place.
To read the full article Click Here
Toyota Named Top Auto Brand for 9th Year Running
Toyota has once again claimed the top spot in Interbrand's annual ranking for the world's best automotive brands, while placing 10th overall.
In the just released Best Global Brands report, Toyota is credited for its customer service, it's lineup of green cars (including the Prius) and its growing appeal with younger customers. This marks the 9th straight year Toyota has placed first in the automotive category.
Toyota ranks just ahead of Mercedes in 11th spot and BMW in 12th. Rounding out the top five are Honda in 21st and Volkswagen in 39th. Other automakers to make the Top 100 include Ford, Audi, Porsche, Kia, Ferrari and Hyundai.
To read the full article Click Here