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Toyota A-BAT Concept – Toyota Makes a Prius Pickup?


Toyota revealed their new ‘Advanced Breakthrough Aero Truck’ (or A-BAT for short) at the 2008 Detroit Auto Show. It’s not a smaller Tacoma. Think of it more like a small Toyota Ridgeline. It’s based on a unitized platform and swallows an inline 4 cylinder engine with Toyota’s Synergy Hybrid Drive.


No, the A-BAT was not designed in the dark by Avalanche and Ridgeline ex-patriots. The A-BAT was developed by the TMS Advanced Product Strategy group and Calty. Kevin Hunter, president of Calty Design Research Inc. had this to say:
“We’ve taken Toyota’s truck heritage to a different level by envisioning a vehicle capable of maneuvering the suburbs as well as dirt roads. This compact truck is as comfortable for long commutes as it is for road trips. It can accommodate outdoor toys and home improvement supplies. Plus customers benefit from the hybrid powertrain’s low emissions and fuel economy.”

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2007 Frankfurt Motor Show: Toyota IQ


Is Small Beautiful Again?
At the 2007 Frankfurt auto show this month, Toyota showed a concept version of a vehicle expected to be available in Europe in January 2009. The IQ, shown in brilliant white with purple metallic flakes in front of a swirling purple tie-die type background, is shorter than the smallest Toyota, the Aygo, but about as wide and tall as the Yaris. This footprint allows for maximum interior space and minimum exterior space.



The IQ wouldn’t meet Japan’s keijodisha requirements, the segment there which requires that vehicles be no longer than 3300mm nor wider than 1480mm and use an engine with displacement no larger than 660cc nor delivering more than 64PS. The primary benefit of buying a kei-car is lower automobile taxes, as well as generally being more fuel efficient and often less expensive. The kei-car segment is the only one in Japan in which Toyota does not directly compete, though their affiliate Daihatsu makes several.
Toyota IQ and Yaris

At 2980mm long and 1680mm wide, IQ is a bit larger than the smart fortwo, but the benefit of this space is the ability to carry more people. smart’s fortwo only carries two, but Toyota says the IQ can carry three if needed. Toyota makes room for the third person in a configuration they call 3+1. In normal driving situations, the driver and front passenger sit side-by-side. When room for a third adult or child is needed, the front passenger seat is moved forward; this is possible in part by a dash that swoops away from the front passenger and allows more space. To help ensure passengers don’t feel cramped in such a small vehicle is a glass panorama sunroof.


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2007 Frankfurt Motor Show: The Color this Fall Was Green


I spent two days crisscrossing the massive Frankfurt auto show, and the focus on reducing emissions and improving fuel economy and “green” solutions could not be missed. Very few manufacturers were not talking about fuel economy gains in their powertrain lineup and many announced hybrid plans or showed hybrid concepts. What we’re seeing here is the culmination of years of research, rather than fiberglass what-if models. Many of these hybrids or other technology-based solutions will be on the roads later this decade.


Mercedes-Benz will, during the 2009CY, offer a hybrid powertrain in the S-Class and the M-Class, while a smart fortwo mild hybrid system goes on sale in October. Porsche gave updated the Cayenne’s diesel for more power but also promises a parallel series hybrid using the existing 3.6L V6 by the end of 2010CY. General Motors took the system shown under the Chevrolet Volt in January, replaced the gasoline engine with a diesel one, and created the Opel Flextreme as well as showing off an Opel Corsa Hybrid. Volvo put a plug-in hybrid into the C30 to create the Recharge concept. Land Rover is adding stop-start systems in 2009CY, and Audi will bring a hybrid to the Q7.

Small cars are more prevalent on international roads and therefore more prevalent at auto shows outside the United States. Toyota brought us the iQ, Volkswagen the up!, and Ford the Verve. Renault’s latest Twingo was on the show floor as well, though this was not its debut.


Notable exceptions to the small and green game were Ferrari and the 430 Scuderia (introduced by Michael Schumacher himself), the Aston Martin DBS (officially introduced at the 2007 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance), the Bentley Continental GTS Speed, the Lamborghini Reventon (of which only twenty will be made, with a price tag around $1.4 million), and Maserati.


Day two of Frankfurt’s show holds most of the supplier press conferences, leaving us a chance to take photos and see some general reaction. Frankfurt’s convention center has 10 halls, with at least seven of them holding the major manufacturers and others holding aftermarket and supplier stands. Walking the full show requires much time and comfortable shows and several hours. Interest was strong in the Mercedes-Benz F700 Concept (previewing the next S-Class), the Audi A4, Opel’s Flextreme, Ford’s Verve and Kuga, and Jaguar’s XF. Peugeot and Citroen concepts, the 308RCZ and the Airscape, saw plenty of attention, as did Nissan’s very odd-looking Mixim.


The Volkswagen Tiguan stand was flocked with people getting a chance to get in and crawl around the new model, with plenty also checking out the up! city car. Interestingly, every time I went through hall 6, home to Italian makes Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Lancia, Ferrari, and Maserati as well as Porsche and Hyundai it was completely mobbed. On the other hand, Kia’s Kee coupe concept and BMW’s X6 concepts didn’t seem to grab attendees as much.


While going green may be good for us, hybrid systems and new engine developments don’t make for great pictures or put the enthusiasm into driving that a great-looking design can. Over the coming weeks, we’ll bring you more detailed coverage of many of these. Stay tuned.

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Unbelievable – Jim Press Joins Chrysler LLC


We don’t normally get involved in reporting on the management at carmakers. We don’t figure that these faceless heads are of much interest to our readers, but in the case of Chrysler LLC’s new management the stories are unfolding and they are very, very interesting. The latest is the move of Jim Press from Toyota to Chrysler.

Jim Press Tundra blog.jpg

Incredible. Unbelievable. Jim Press, the top American at Toyota has left the Japanese firm he has been with for 37 years to join Chrysler as Vice Chairman and President responsible Sales, International Sales, Marketing, Product Strategy, Service and Parts.
One of the true gentlemen of the industry – domestic or import – Press was at the helm of Toyota Motor Sales as the firm blasted past its Japanese rivals and then began to pick off Chrysler and Ford in monthly sales figures. Press was on the board of Toyota Motor Limited – the Japanese mothership – and had moved from Toyota Motor Sales’ Torrance, California headquarters to run all of Toyota’s North American operations from New York during 2006. It is likely this move upwards to New York that took Press out of his comfort zone and made any approach by Chrysler possible.
In his new job, Press has the same title as Tom LaSorda. Chrysler said LaSorda will be responsible for manufacturing and suppliers, while Press will be responsible for sales and marketing, product strategy and service and parts. Both will report to Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli. This is the second high profile choice that undermines LaSorda’s previous position as Chairman of Chrysler… first came Nardelli and now Press.
Press joins another Toyota alum, Debra Wahl Meyer, in moving to Chrysler. Wahy Meyer was tapped last month to be Vice President of Marketing. She had previously been Vice President of Marketing at Toyota’s Lexus Division.
“Part of my new responsibilities will be strengthening and energizing the dealer body,” Press said in a statement. “This is something I was passionate about at Toyota and will be passionate about at Chrysler.” This, of course, will be a challenge for Press because Chrysler dealers are a restive group of late. In his days as head of TMS, Press’ relationships with Toyota dealers was solid. Dealers respected Press and he respected the dealers. Chrysler’s dealer relations are so far in the dumps, however, that it will take months, if not years, for them to be repaired.

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Toyota Yaris Wins AutoPacific 2007 Ideal Vehicle Award for Economy Car:



The Most Ideal Economy Car win goes to the Toyota Yaris. The new Toyota Yaris is highly rated for exterior size, passenger room and cargo space. Power and acceleration are rated relatively low with respect to the total industry, but fully competitive within the Economy Car segment.

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2007 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab TRD Sport – Night Raid to Jackson, Wyoming


After owning a Toyota Tacoma for a few months and racking up a few thousand miles around suburbia it was time for a real test; a road trip! So, with sleeping bags, fishing gear, bicycles, five gallons of water, maps of the West, 21 gallons of 91 octane, a fresh oil change, new oil filter and some personal effects, we set out to gobble up some pavement and go see the West… the Grand Tetons, maybe even some Buffalo.


The fourth longest north-south transcontinental Interstate highway in the U.S. lay ahead of us as I looked over at my co-pilot wondering if we had forgotten anything… Our trip would take us up Interstate 15 from Southern California, through Las Vegas and into Salt Lake City Utah, turning right at Idaho down Route 89 and eventually dropping us into Jackson, Wyoming. This trip would take us from 9 feet to around 8,000 feet in elevation and change our definition of rush hour traffic, from Plymouths to Pronghorn Antelope (who can do 0-60 faster than the Plymouth, but top out just over 60mph as the second-fastest land animal).

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2007 Motorist Choice Awards Announced


2007 MCA Logo.jpg

The Motorist Choice Award is in its second year and is a collaboration between AutoPacific and AutoPacific, widely known for its industry expertise and research, and IntelliChoice, known for its comprehensive cost of ownership information, designed the Motorist Choice Award to help consumers identify the most satisfying cars and trucks that are also the least expensive to own.
Using data from AutoPacific’s national Vehicle Satisfaction research and the IntelliChoice Best Overall Value information, AutoPacific and IntelliChoice have developed a unique tool that can be used by consumers to help them sort through the myriad of choices in today’s automotive marketplace.
Here are the 2007 Winners of the 25 individual segment awards:
SEGMENT – Winner
Aspirational Luxury Car – Lexus IS
Compact Car – Mazda3
Compact Crossover SUV – Chevrolet HHR
Compact Pickup – Toyota Tacoma
Compact Sport Utility/ORV – Toyota Tacoma
Economy Car – Honda Fit
Image Compact Car – Volkswagen GTi
Large Car – Toyota Avalon
Large Heavy Duty Pickup – Chevrolet Silverado HD
Large Light Duty Pickup – Chevrolet Silverado 1500
Large Luxury Car – Cadillac DTS
Large Sport Utility – GMC Yukon XL
Luxury Crossover SUV – Acura MDX
Luxury Mid-Size Car – Nissan Maxima
Luxury Sport Utility – Land Rover Range Rover Sport
Mid-Size Car – Volkswagen Jetta
Mid-Size Crossover SUV – Honda CR-V
Mid-Size Sport Utility – Toyota 4Runner
Minivan – Honda Odyssey
Premium Luxury Car – Lexus LS
Premium Mid-Size Car – Nissan Altima
Premium Mid-Size Crossover SUV – Nissan Murano
Premium Sports Car – Lexus SC
Sports Car – Porsche Boxster
Sporty Car – Scion tC
The press release can be found below the fold.
• • • • •

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Scion tC – Wins AutoPacific 2007 Motorist Choice Sporty Car

Scion tC.png
AutoPacific Take on Scion tC Win – Scion may have blurred the lines between production and custom vehicles but Scion owners have made sure the line their tC crosses is indelible. With the highest overall satisfaction in its class the Scion tC takes home this year’s Motorist Choice Award® for the Sporty Car category. Owners strong ratings for its exterior size, interior styling, interior storage and instrument layout help the tC achieve its leading performance. Owners submitted high marks for Scion’s reputation and tC’s reputation while their ratings for feeling safe while driving, overall seating capacity, and marks for being reliable/dependable bolstered its score.
IntelliChoice take on Scion tC win – The Scion tC is not only a fun car to drive, but with best in class retained value and low fuel, repair, and maintenance costs it is a great value.

Posted in: Awards, Scion, Toyota

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Lexus SC430 – Wins AutoPacific 2007 Motorist Choice Premium Sports Car


AutoPacific Take on Lexus SC Win – For the second consecutive year the Lexus SC wins the Premium Sports Car class, bringing home yet another Motorist Choice Award®. Owners still rate the interior and exterior styling as strongly satisfying. Its comfortable exterior size, easy ingress/egress and driver’s seat comfort make it easy for owners to put the SC430 on top. Owners rate the brand’s reputation, vehicle’s reputation and overall quality as best in class. With a smooth retractable hardtop, great audio system, and superior overall quality, SC owners have chosen the Lexus SC as the benchmark.
IntelliChoice take on Lexus SC win – The Lexus SC performs well in this class by having best in class maintenance costs and repair costs along with low insurance costs.

Posted in: Awards, Lexus, Toyota

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Lexus LS – Wins 2007 AutoPacific Motorist Choice Premium Luxury Car


Lexus LS.png
AutoPacific Take on Lexus LS Win – Owners didn’t exactly surprise us when they earmarked the Lexus flagship as a winner in the Premium Luxury Car category. Leading the class in the 2007 Motorist Choice Awards® owner’s rate the vehicle’s reputation and the quality of the Lexus dealership experience as significant contributors to its win. In addition, the LS owners rated the interior materials as top-notch, with a quiet interior and innovative technology. Owners also reported feeling very safe while driving and applauded the overall quality of their vehicle.
IntelliChoice take on Lexus LS win – In a class where retained value is king, the Lexus LS beats out the competition. The LS also performs well in fuel, maintenance, and repairs.

Posted in: Awards, Lexus, Toyota

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