Toyota’s larger Prius V goes on sale in Japan

May 17th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Despite severe production and supply issues after the Japanese earthquake/tsunami disaster Toyota has just put its Prius V on sale in its domestic market.

The second model in Toyota’s growing Prius range will be sold in Japan as the Prius Alpha. The new Prius V is based on the current third-generation Prius but is a larger vehicle and will be sold with seven- and five-seating capacities. It also features a much more advanced lithium-ion battery pack. Even in five-seater form, the Prius V offers an impressive 60 percent more luggage capacity than the standard Prius. It also is longer and higher which means extra head and legroom for passengers.

Mechanically the Prius V differs little from the standard model using the same 1.8 litre Atkinson-cycle petrol engine matched with an electric motor. Power output for the petrol engine is rated at 73kW and 142Nm, with the electric motor chipping in another 60kW and 207Nm of torque. Continue reading “Toyota’s larger Prius V goes on sale in Japan” »

Toyota’s profits drop 77% after Japan earthquake

May 12th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Like all Japanese carmakers, Toyota has been severely affected by the March 11 earthquake that saw huge damage and loss of life in Japan.

Despite plant shutdowns the world’s largest carmaker still announced profits of $314 million USD for the first three months of 2011, down 77 percent versus the same period in 2010. The $314 million profit is only a fourth of what analysts were expecting Toyota to make. With very low sales through the quarter, profits have been affected as a result.

While the announcement is disappointing for Toyota, things are set to get worse with even lower numbers expected for the period through to June. Supply issues are still hurting Toyota, with many plants running at only 50-percent capacity and some not running at all. These supply issues will see less stock being shipped to big markets like the U.S. and China which will lead to much lower revenue.

Toyota is fighting hard and says that production should ramp up to 70 percent of capacity by June, which is ahead of previous estimates. Continue reading “Toyota’s profits drop 77% after Japan earthquake” »

Suzuki Swift dominates NZ new car sales in April

May 10th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The Suzuki Swift, is re-establishing its dominance as the top selling passenger vehicle in the New Zealand market. The Swift was the number one new car choice in April, according to Motor Industry Association figures, with total sales 66 per cent ahead of its nearest rival – the Toyota Corolla.

A new version of the Swift was launched in New Zealand in February and has reignited the strong sales figures achieved by its predecessor in the last six years. In year to date sales, the Swift is still running second overall to the Toyota Corolla.

“Total new car sales in New Zealand for the opening third of this year are up by 11 per cent but the average sales rate for new Swifts is 29 per cent higher,” said Tom Peck, general manager of marketing for Suzuki New Zealand.

“Swift has a well established history in our country dating back 27 years. However, it was the arrival of the fifth generation model in 2005 that really saw the car take off,” he said. Continue reading “Suzuki Swift dominates NZ new car sales in April” »

Toyota HiAce ZX 2011 Review

May 6th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

While a dog might be a man’s best friend and diamonds a girl’s for any tradesman it’s a good van that plays the role of best buddy. Interior space, comfort, practicality and most importantly reliability are all factors for tradies to consider when choosing a suitable van mate. But for many there is only one trusty stead that appeals, the Toyota HiAce, with no substitutes accepted. But why is the HiAce the default decision for so many tradesmen, courier drivers and shuttle van proprietors? Car and SUV saddled up with the heavyweight of Toyota’s HiAce stable the ZX to find out more.

Exterior design may not be the secret behind the HiAce’s success, while no van is a sexy beast the HiAce aesthetic is boxy, basic and in ZX form – burly too. She’s a big rig with a length of 5.38 metres and an extended height of 2.28 metres, wheelbase is 3.1 meters and it tips the scales at around 3.2-tonnes. The exterior styling has changed little on the fifth generation HiAce since its debut back in 2005 but there is a new black front bumper, reworked halogen headlights and a silver-barred grille that goes some way to giving this workhorse a more modern face. With a low side profile and a thin section of green-tinted glass, there is also plenty of prime real estate on the HiAce for sign writing. Standard wheel fitment is 15-inch steel rims that are hidden behind six-spoke silver wheel covers. Continue reading “Toyota HiAce ZX 2011 Review” »

Toyota announces powertrain details for FT-86

May 3rd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

To keep Toyota/Subaru fans interested new information has been released on the upcoming FT-86 sports coupe a.k.a Toyoburu.

Toyota has confirmed that its rear-driving affordable sports car will go on sale next year and will be powered by Subaru’s latest 2.0-litre 4-cylinder boxer engine fitted with Toyota’s D-4S technology. It’s a real team effort here and Toyota’s D-4S tech consists of direct injection combined with port injection for more power.

Unfortunately output figures still haven’t been released, stopping us armchair critics from judging the FT-86 before it even reaches production. But Toyota is amping everyone up by claiming that its D4-S technology “results in increased horsepower and torque without sacrificing fuel consumption and environmental performance.”

The engine itself will come from Subaru’s with an improved 2.0-liter horizontally opposed gas motor, in its current Impreza guise this motor only puts out 110kW and 197 Nm of torque, but in the case of the FT-86, output is expected to be bumped up significantly. The real tragedy here is that the FT-86 won’t be turbocharged, not at first, anyway.

For changing gears the FT-86 will be offered with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automatic transmission. “The manual will offer quick and precise shifts with a short-throw, while the automatic transmission will feature sporty shifts controlled by steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifts,” said Toyota. Continue reading “Toyota announces powertrain details for FT-86” »

Toyota to restart production at half-speed across Japan

April 12th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Just one of Toyota’s plants, producing the Prius, has been able to continue production in Japan since the recent earthquake/Tsunami disaster. But now that’s scheduled to change on April 18 with Toyota reportedly ready to resume production that day, though assembly lines will only work at half speed.

The plants should be able to run through till April 27, when they will close again until May 9 to honour Japan’s Golden Week holiday. While that’s a fairly short production window, the move is positive for Toyota and Japan’s manufacturing industry. Apparently, the automaker has already lost out on 260,000 units since the March 11 disasters.

Toyota’s plan to restart production is ambitious and comes as the automaker continues to struggle to procure parts needed for production. But Toyota’s parts situation has drastically improved, with reports that problem part counts have gone from 500 to under 150. Continue reading “Toyota to restart production at half-speed across Japan” »

Toyota NZ has two-month buffer of stock

April 5th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Toyota New Zealand is busy managing its vehicle and parts stocks to ensure as little impact as possible to its customers as the downstream effects of last month’s devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan begin to be felt around the globe.

Steve Prangnell, Toyota New Zealand General Manager of Sales and Operations, says the company has a two-month buffer of vehicles and parts, and in the meantime it is business as usual.

But some effects are likely after that, given Toyota Motor Corporation’s estimated one month’s loss of production – mainly caused by key component suppliers being affected, and power cuts to Toyota’s relatively undamaged plants in Japan.

“The situation with parts is yet to be fully clarified, but we expect our service experts will have to prioritise urgent repairs, especially on some of the more fast-moving parts. Our focus is on ensuring optimum stock management to reduce the impact on customers of any production shortfalls. But later in the year, it may be difficult to avoid some inconvenience for some customers.” Continue reading “Toyota NZ has two-month buffer of stock” »

Japan Auto Industry battling plant shut downs after disasters

March 17th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Japan’s auto industry lays in tatters after the recent earthquake, tsunami and nuclear emergency disasters that have ravaged the country from last Friday.

Most major Japanese automakers have been effected with their production slowed or shut down completely by the disaster, including Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mazda Mitsubishi and Subaru.

Toyota has shuttered all production in Japan until today to help conserve energy as the country deals with rolling blackouts due to power failures and the threat of a meltdown at its Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Honda has also ceased production at several plants, including in Suzuka where it makes several high-demand hybrid models.

The problems are also coming from suppliers who’s operations have been severely disrupted by the disaster and cannot deliver parts on time to automakers’ assembly plants. With such a complex global supply chain production in other countries is becoming affected as well.

Mazda and Subaru have had to extended their Japanese plant closures until this Sunday due to a parts shortage. That shortage also affects Subaru and Toyota production in the United States where some plants have had to suspend production due to a shortage of parts. Continue reading “Japan Auto Industry battling plant shut downs after disasters” »