Toyota Motor Corporation, abbreviated TMC, is a Japanese multinational automaker headquartered in Toyota, Aichi, Japan. In 2010, Toyota employed 300,734 people worldwide, and was the third-largest automobile manufacturer in 2011 by production behind General Motors and Volkswagen Group. Toyota is the eleventh-largest company in the world by revenue. In July 2012, the company reported it had manufactured its 200-millionth vehicle.
The company was founded by Kiichiro Toyoda in 1937 as a spinoff from his father's company Toyota Industries to create automobiles. Three years earlier, in 1934, while still a department of Toyota Industries, it created its first product, the Type A engine, and, in 1936, its first passenger car, the Toyota AA. Toyota Motor Corporation group companies are Toyota (including the Scion brand), Lexus, Daihatsu, and Hino Motors, along with several "nonautomotive" companies. TMC is part of the Toyota Group, one of the largest conglomerates in the world.
Hybrid electric vehicles
Main articles: Hybrid Synergy Drive, Hybrid electric vehicle, and Toyota Prius
Toyota is one of the largest companies to push hybrid electric vehicles in the market and the first to commercially mass-produce and sell such vehicles, with the introduction of the Toyota Prius in 1997. The company eventually began providing this option on the main smaller cars such as Camry and later with the Lexus divisions, producing some hybrid luxury vehicles. It labeled such technology in Toyota cars as "Hybrid Synergy Drive" and in Lexus versions as "Lexus Hybrid Drive."
As of October 2012, the Prius is the top selling hybrid car in world, with cumulative sales of 2.8 million units since its introduction in 1997. The United States is the world's largest hybrid market, and the Prius liftback is the top selling hybrid car in the U.S. market, surpassing the 1 million milestone in April 2011. Cumulative sales of the Prius in Japan reached the 1 million mark in August 2011. Worldwide sales of hybrid vehicles produced by Toyota reached 1.0 million vehicles by May 31, 2007, and the 2.0 million mark was reached by August 31, 2009, with hybrids sold in 50 countries. Cumulative sales of TMC hybrids in Japan reached the 2 million mark in October 2012. As of 31 October 2012, cumulative sales of TMC-produced hybrid vehicles worldwide reached 4.60 million units.
The Toyota Prius c the second spin off of the Prius family.
As of October 2012, there are 19 TMC-produced hybrid passenger car models and one plug-in hybrid vehicle model available in approximately 80 countries and regions around the world, and the carmaker plans to launch 20 new hybrid models by the end of 2015. Besides the three generations of Prius liftback, Toyota's hybrid lineup includes the Camry Hybrid (1st and 2nd generation), Toyota Highlander Hybrid (Kluger Hybrid in Japan), the Toyota Auris Hybrid, Toyota Yaris Hybrid (Europe only), and the following models sold only in Japan: Alphard Hybrid/Vellfire Hybrid, Estima Hybrid, Toyota Sai, Toyota Harrier, and Toyota Crown Hybrid.
The Lexus RX 450h is the top selling hybrid of the Lexus brand.
Beginning in 2011, TMC introduced three new members to the Prius family, the Prius v (Prius ? in Japan and Prius + in Europe), the Prius c (Toyota Aqua in Japan), and the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid, released in 2012 in Japan, the U.S. and Europe. With a total of 247,230 vehicles sold during the first quarter of 2012, the Toyota Prius family became the third top selling nameplate in the world in terms of total global sales, after the Toyota Corolla (300,800 units) and the Ford Focus (277,000 units). Until September 2012, The Prius liftback was the top selling new car in Japan for 16 months in a row, until it was surpassed by the Toyota Aqua (Prius c) in October 2012.
Lexus also has their own hybrid lineup, consisting of the GS 450h, RX 400h/RX 450h, the LS 600h/LS 600h L, Lexus HS 250h, Lexus CT 200h, and Lexus ES 300h. Cumulative sales of Lexus brand hybrid vehicles worldwide reached the 500 thousand mark in November 2012, with the Lexus RX 400h/RX 450h as the top selling Lexus hybrid with 259 thousand units, followed by the Lexus CT 200h with 122 thousand units.
Production version of the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid.
Toyota's plug-in hybrid electric vehicle project began in 2007, with road trials of a prototype vehicle in France and the UK in 2008. Toyota made available a total of 600 Prius plug-in demonstration vehicles for lease to fleet and government customers, 230 were delivered in Japan beginning in late December 2009, 125 models released in the U.S. by early 2010, and 200 units in 18 European countries in 2010, with France, the UK and Germany with the largest fleets with 150 PHEVs. Canada, China, Australia, and New Zealand also participated in the global demonstration program.
The production version of the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid was released in Japan in January 2012, followed by the United States in late February, and deliveries in Europe began in late June 2012. A total of 21,600 Prius PHVs have been sold worldwide through October 2012, led by the United States with 9,623 units followed by Japan with 9,500 units sold through October 2012. As of October 2012, the Prius PHV is the second best selling plug-in hybrid in the world after the Chevrolet Volt.
First generation Toyota RAV4 EV
Second generation Toyota RAV4 EV
The first generation Toyota RAV4 EV was leased in the United States from 1997 to 2003, and at the lessees' request, many units were sold after the vehicle was discontinued. A total of 1,484 were leased and/or sold in California to meet the state’s CARB mandate for Zero-emissions vehicle. As of mid 2012, there were almost 500 units still in use.
In May 2010, Toyota launched a collaboration with Tesla Motors to create electric vehicles. Toyota agreed to purchase US$50 million of Tesla common stock subsequent to the closing of Tesla's planned initial public offering. Toyota, with the assistance of Tesla, built 35 converted RAV4s (Phase Zero vehicles) for a demonstration and evaluation program that ran through 2011. The lithium metal-oxide battery and other power train components were supplied by Tesla Motors.
The second generation Toyota RAV4 EV was released in September 2012. The RAV4 EV is assembled at Toyota's facility in Woodstock, Ontario along with the regular gasoline version. Tesla is building the electric powertrain at its plant at Tesla Factory in Fremont, California, and then ship them to Canada. The RAV4 EV is sold only in California, beginning with the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles/Orange County and San Diego. Production will be limited to 2,600 during the first three years. As of 31 October 2012, a total of 108 RAV4 EVs have been sold.
The Toyota eQ/Scion iQ EV is based on Toyota's three generations of FT-EV concept. Shown the Toyota FT-EV III concept car at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show.
A prototype of the Toyota iQ EV (Scion iQ EV in the US) was exhibited at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show. The Scion iQ EV is the successor to the FT-EV II as an electric vehicle based on the Toyota iQ chassis. Toyota produced three generations of FT-EV concept cars, and the iQ EV is a production version of those concepts, incorporating the technological and design strengths of all three models. The exterior of the production version is based on the FT-EV III concept shown at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show.
The U.S. launch of the Scion iQ EV was announced for 2012, and according to Toyota, for the initial roll-out the iQ EV would not be available to individual consumers, instead the carmaker decided to focus on fleet customers and car sharing programs. The iQ EV was scheduled to be produced at Toyota’s Takaoka Plant in Toyota City beginning in August 2012 and the initial production was planned to be limited to 600 units, with 400 staying in Japan, 100 units destined to the U.S. and the other 100 for Europe. In September 2012 Toyota announced that due to customers' concerns about range and charging time, the production of the Scion iQ (Toyota eQ in Japan) will be limited to about 100 units for special fleet use in Japan and the U.S. only. The iQ EV/eQ is scheduled to be released in both countries in December 2012.
In addition, Toyota announced that is backing away from fully electric vehicles. The company's vice chairman, Takeshi Uchiyamada, said "The current capabilities of electric vehicles do not meet society’s needs, whether it may be the distance the cars can run, or the costs, or how it takes a long time to charge." Toyota's emphasis would be re-focused on the hybrid concept, and 21 new hybrid gas-electric models scheduled to be on the market by 2015.
Further information: List of Toyota vehicles
As of 2009, Toyota officially lists approximately 70 different models sold under its namesake brand, including sedans, coupes, vans, trucks, hybrids, and crossovers. Many of these models are produced as passenger sedans, which range from the subcompact Toyota Yaris, to compact Corolla, to mid-size Camry, and full-size Avalon. Vans include the Previa/Estima, Sienna, and others. Several small cars, such as the xB and tC, are sold under the Scion brand.
SUVs and crossovers
Toyota crossovers range from the compact Matrix and RAV4, to midsize Venza and Kluger/Highlander. Toyota SUVs range from the midsize 4Runner to full-size Land Cruiser. Other SUVs include the Land Cruiser Prado, FJ Cruiser and Fortuner.
Toyota first entered the pickup truck market in 1947 with the SB that was only sold in Japan and limited Asian markets. It was followed in 1954 by the RK (renamed in 1959 as the Stout) and in 1968 by the compact Hilux. With continued refinement, the Hilux (simply known as the Pickup in some markets) became famous for being extremely durable and reliable, and many of these trucks from as early as the late 1970s are still on the road today, some with over 300,000 miles. Extended and crew cab versions of these small haulers would eventually be added, and Toyota continues to produce them today under various names depending on the market.
Riding on the success of the compact pickups in the US, Toyota decided to attempt to enter the traditionally domestic-dominated full-size pickup market, introducing the T100 for the 1993 US model year, with production ending in 1998. While having a bed at the traditional full-size length of 8 feet, the suspension and engine characteristics were still similar to that of a compact pickup. It proved to be as economical and reliable as any typical Toyota pickup, but sales never became what Toyota brass had hoped for. It was criticized as being too small to appeal to the traditional American full-size pickup buyer. Another popular full-size truck essential, a V8 engine, was never available. Additionally, the truck was at first only available as a regular cab, though Toyota addressed this shortcoming and added the Xtracab version in mid-1995.
In 1999 for the 2000 model year, Toyota replaced the T100 with the larger Tundra. The Tundra addressed criticisms that the T100 did not have the look and feel of a legitimate American-style full-size pickup. It also added the V8 engine that the T100 was criticized for not having. However, the Tundra still came up short in towing capacity as well as still feeling slightly carlike. These concerns were addressed with an even larger 2007 redesign. A stronger V6 and a second V8 engine among other things were added to the option list. As of early 2010, the Tundra has captured 16 percent of the full-size half-ton market in the US. The all-new Tundra was assembled in San Antonio, Texas, US. Toyota assembled around 150,000 Standard and Double Cabs, and only 70,000 Crew Max's in 2007. The smaller Tacoma (which traces its roots back to the original Hilux) was also produced at the company's San Antonio facility.
Outside the United States, Toyota produced the Hilux in Standard and Double Cab, gasoline and diesel engine, 2WD and 4WD versions. The BBC's Top Gear TV show featured two episodes of a Hilux that was deemed "virtually indestructible".
Further information: List of Lexus vehicles
As of 2009, the company sold nine luxury-branded models under its Lexus division, ranging from the LS sedan to RX crossover and LX SUV. Luxury-type sedans produced under the Toyota brand included the Century, Toyota Crown, and Toyota Crown Majesta. A limited-edition model produced for the Emperor of Japan was the Century Royal.
Fri, 18 Jul 2014 11:31:00 EST
An increasing number of people are starting to consider the potential downsides of a transition to autonomous cars. The FBI is already looking at them for the potential ill effects on law enforcement, and a scientist for Toyota is raising the possibility that driverless vehicles could actually be detrimental to the environment over the long term.
Thu, 17 Jul 2014 13:59:00 EST
Ken Laberteaux, who studies future transportation for Toyota, thinks that autonomous cars could lead to more pollution, not less, says Bloomberg. However, Laberteaux's theory isn't so much based purely on science as it is considering behavioral and historical trends. "US history shows that anytime you make driving easier, there seems to be this inexhaustible desire to live further from things," said Laberteaux during a presentation at the Automated Vehicles Symposium in San Francisco, CA, cited by Bloomberg.
Laberteaux's belief is that if commuters can make their drives easier, then they will be more willing to live farther away from the cities where they work. The end result would be more urban sprawl and increased pollution from the longer travel times.
Union tactics apparently translate across borders, as Canada's Unifor may take inspiration from the United Auto Workers' recent move at the Volkswagen factory in Chattanooga, TN, and establish a local for the Toyota factories in Cambridge and Woodstock.
Thu, 17 Jul 2014 10:00:00 EST
Unifor last attempted to organize the workers at the two factories, which are responsible for production of the Toyota Corolla (above), RAV4 and Lexus RX back in April, but that vote was eventually delayed. According to that report, 3,000 of the two plants' 7,500 employees signed union cards, but that apparently wasn't enough for Unifor to force a vote.
Because of this, the union is looking at the local approach, like what the UAW is attempting with VW.
Toyota found huge success with its "Swagger Wagon" rap video for the 2011 Sienna SE. It showed that a minivan could actually sort of maybe be fun and didn't have to be a lame vehicle for people who long ago lost their sense of humor. Now that there is a slight refresh for the 2015 model, the company is trying to capture that effervescent image again with a bunch of videos aimed at families.
Thu, 17 Jul 2014 09:02:00 EST
For the latest launch, Toyota is partnering with some family-friendly online video stars and having them show off the Sienna's features. It's releasing YouTube videos from the creators of Action Movie Kid and Convos with My 2-Year-Old and a Vine from Eh Bee Family, and they all hope to show that it's cool to be a family with a minivan.
In terms of actual changes, though, the update is pretty light aesthetically, but the new tech inside seems aimed directly at mom and dad. However, unless you've got a sharp eye, spotting the exterior refresh might be tough. Toyota is tweaking the front end slightly by adding a dark mesh grille and trim. The headlights are also slightly reshaped to incorporate a new strip of available LED running lights.
Don't you just hate when your neighbors' mess becomes your problem? Toyota certainly has good reason to be upset, after an dirty mishap at a steel mill delayed thousands of vehicle exports from its nearby port in Nagoya, Japan, (pictured above) by as much as a month.
Tue, 15 Jul 2014 19:01:00 EST
The messy situation occurred on June 22 when the mill near the port lost power and had to burn off an excess buildup of coke oven gas - which isn't exactly a situation friendly to living beings or the environment. According to Automotive News, it caused a massive amount of smoke to emit from the plant that fell as soot and tar on about 23,000 vehicles that were waiting to be shipped out. Getting the models properly cleaned off has been quite a task. A team of 5,000 workers were at the port until this week getting them gleaming again.
Potential Toyota buyers in North America have no need to fret about getting a sullied car, though. A Toyota spokesperson told Automotive News that none of the vehicles were bound for this continent. The automaker is reportedly considering asking the mill's owners for reimbursement for the cost of the weeks of cleanup. Paying for the mistake is, after all, the neighborly thing to do.
Scroll down the leaderboards of Nürburgring lap times and you'll see mostly racing cars, supercars and sports cars. Delve deep enough and you'll eventually get to hatchbacks and sedans, albeit the most performance-focused of their kind. But a hybrid? Sure, the Porsche 918 Spyder posted the top time for a street-legal series production car, and it's technically a hybrid, but we're talking about another kind of hybrid here. We're talking about a Toyota Prius.
Thu, 10 Jul 2014 12:01:00 EST
That's right: the Prius just set a lap record around the Nordschleife. But it wasn't for the lap time. In fact, miles per hour barely factored in (except for staying above the minimum 37-mph average speed mandated on the vaunted racing circuit). No, this was about miles per gallon.
Toyota took one of its Prius Plug-In hybrids to the Nürburgring, topped up the battery, put on a set of low-rolling-resistance tires and put automotive journalist Joe Clifford behind the wheel with a mandate to use as little fuel as possible. After one second shy of 21 minutes, the Prius completed its lap having used just five tablespoons of fuel.
Introduced at the end of 2006, this is the last year for the Toyota FJ Cruiser, the reincarnated FJ40-series Land Cruiser that will shortly journey to Takama-ga-hara, the Plain of High Heaven. In its first model year, we drove it to SEMA and found it, shall we say, coarse. It bobbled on the freeway and droned in the cabin, its boxy interior providing four bounce-boards for unpleasant frequencies. Tall mirrors helped one work around the eclipse of vision aft of the B-pillars, but navigating traffic required forethought and technique. Its turning circle was measured in kilometers. For the first two years of its life, it needed premium gas. It may have been fun to look at, but we couldn't wait to get out of it.
Tue, 08 Jul 2014 07:59:00 EST
That's not the case anymore, and now the FJ Cruiser is poised to join a long list of vehicles that got better and better, then got axed.
Australian consumers appear poised to get another diesel-burning luxury SUV in the near future, and word is it's coming from Lexus, of all automakers. Sean Hanley, chief executive of the company's branch in Oz, recently told Aussie website Drive that he's "pretty confident" that the new engine for the LX is getting the green light.
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 17:59:00 EST
Like in the US, the LX in Australia is currently only offered with a 5.7-liter, gasoline-burning V8. However, sales of the big SUV are presently minuscule Down Under, with Drive reporting just 153 LX570s sold in all of Oz last year. Hanley is negotiating with Japan to get the new diesel in hopes of boosting flagging sales. If his efforts are successful, it would be the first diesel engine offered in a Lexus there. Hanley didn't specify exactly which mill the SUV would get. However, given the LX's close relationship with Toyota Land Cruiser, the diesel 4.5-liter twin-turbo V8 already available in the Toyota in markets outside of North America seems like a natural choice.
Don't expect the variant to be hopping across the Pacific, though. Lexus spokesperson Allison Takahashi tells Autoblog she has heard "nothing" about an oil-burning LX coming to the US. That's not a huge surprise, though, because neither Toyota nor Lexus offer any diesels in their lineups today. Also, Lexus has only sold 1,981 LX570s through June, which only placed it ahead of the LFA supercar in the brand's sales. It's probably just not worth certifying the engine for such a low-volume model.
If you were holding off buying a new car in anticipation of the fourth-generation Toyota Prius arriving in 2015, your wait might be a little longer. Company insiders are claiming that production of the bestselling hybrid is being pushed back from spring to possibly as late as December 2015. Toyota is reportedly still making alterations to make sure everything is just right before it unleashes the all-important, efficient hatch on a waiting public.
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 16:30:00 EST
According to unnamed sources speaking to Automotive News Europe, the main reasons for the delay aren't completely known. It's believed the engineers are still working on making the hybrid powertrain more efficient and improving the new Toyota Global Architecture modular platform. The insiders claim that the final production prototype of the Prius is still under development, and it might be November before it's finalized. From there, it usually takes around 12 months to tool up and for the first car to roll off the assembly line. It would be another year after that before the plug-in variant starts assembly. The national manager of Toyota Product Communications, Michael Kroll, told AutoblogGreen, "As you might expect, we can't comment on future product plans."
Despite the delay, some potential details have already emerged about the new hybrid. A company spokesperson recently told Autoblog via email that Toyota is engineering the next-gen Prius to have smaller, more power-dense electric motors and greater thermal efficiency. The new modular platform is also rumored reduce weight, and the changes could lead to a targeted 10 percent improvement in fuel economy.
Once again, the most American car on the market is from an American brand. The Ford F-150 retained its number one spot in Cars.com's annual survey of the most American vehicles, trumping the Toyota Camry, which remains at number two.
Mon, 30 Jun 2014 16:01:00 EST
Ford taking the top spot is small consolation, though, as the Detroit Three aren't too well represented here. General Motors scored a win at number seven, with the Chevrolet Corvette, while Chrysler squeaked in at number ten, with the Dodge Viper. Outside of those three vehicles, Toyota and Honda dominate the top ten.
What's most remarkable, though, is that there were so few cars available for this year's list.
Toyota is requesting an exemption from federal safety regulations that govern electric cars as it prepares to launch a small-scale hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle fleet.
The Japanese automaker is targeting Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 305, which covers the packaging of high-voltage parts in electric cars. According to Uncle Sam, these systems need to be isolated so that passengers and first responders aren't electrocuted in the event of a crash. That seems pretty smart, but it's become a problem for Toyota's upcoming production fuel cell vehicle, as the mechanism that prevents electric shocks in low-speed crashes will apparently simply keep Toyota's car from even functioning.
Instead of the federally approved system, Bloomberg reports that Toyota plans to insulate the high-voltage wires and cables in the car, along with shielding electrical components like the fuel cells, electric motor and batteries with (presumably non-conductive) metal barriers.