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” »

Toyota’s global hybrid sales reach three million units

March 11th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Toyota is celebrating a new milestone with global sales of it’s hybrid vehicles now reaching the three million mark.

Toyota offers 16 different hybrid models around the world in 80 different countries, and it’s about to introduce several new variations of the Prius. Toyota’s hybrid sales began in Japan in 1997 with the launch in August of the Coaster Hybrid EV. This was followed in December by Prius, with just 323 sales in that first month.

Global demand for Toyota’s hybrid vehicles is accelerating rapidly, with one million being sold in the past 18 months alone – more than one per minute.

By contrast, it took almost 10 years to sell the first one million Toyota hybrids and two years and three months to sell the second million – a milestone only reached in September 2010.

The global total of Toyota hybrid sales to the end of February was just over 3 million, which includes more than 2.1 million Prius and 210,000 Hybrid Camry.

Toyota New Zealand  executive director Paul Carroll said responding to environmental issues whilst providing a range of fun to drive vehicles for customers is a priority for the company.

He said: “Customers are increasingly turning to hybrid vehicles in the face of rising fuel costs and a desire for more sustainable low cost motoring. As the leader in hybrid technology, Toyota is well placed to meet consumer needs both now and in the future.” Continue reading “Toyota’s global hybrid sales reach three million units” »

Toyota displays reworked FT-86 II concept (+video)

March 4th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Toyota has just pulled the covers of the second iteration of its FT-86 Concept car at the Geneva Motor Show and claims that it is now almost identical to the upcoming production version. Toyota also took the time to release new images and a couple of video clips to get performance car fans excited about the new RWD sports car set to go on sale next year.

The FT-86 II concept comes packing several styling differences over the original concept shown at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show.

In terms of exterior looks, Toyota’s designers restyled the coupe’s profile by adding a new beltline that starts from the front wheel arch with a slightly odd air vent and finishes off on the tip of the rear window. Toyota also also split the front window and removed the blacked out A-pillar finish that was on the original concept. The rear wheel arches are now more pumped out and there are new side rocker panels.

She’s not particularly sexy at the front end with a new bumper with a larger center grille and droopy eyes that drop down into a thin strip of LED daytime running lights.

At the rear the changes continue, with Toyota revamping the FT-86’s rear end with new pushed out tail lamps and a more pronounced air diffuser flanked by large exhaust pipes on either side. Continue reading “Toyota displays reworked FT-86 II concept (+video)” »

Land Cruiser celebration journey begins at Cape Reinga

February 22nd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Toyota’s Top to Bottom off-road team, including Marc Ellis at the wheel of a special expedition FJ Cruiser, set off on its epic journey from Cape Reinga to Bluff yesterday.

The trip is to help celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Toyota Land Cruiser, an iconic vehicle which has been in New Zealand for nearly six decades.

Television presenter Marc Ellis received a dawn blessing and haka from tangata whenua Ngati Kuri ahead of an expected 16-day challenge to get to the southernmost tip of the South Island using back country roads, farm trails and established tracks.

“It is a highly spiritual place for Ngati Kuri, and their words will no doubt cause us to reflect on the task ahead,” Marc Ellis said. “I love challenges, and there are few things I like better than being out and about in heartland New Zealand, encountering down-to-earth Kiwis who make this country special.”

If he wants to drive on tarseal at any point he has to earn credits by accepting further challenges from the public. An expected highlight will be to take the FJ Cruiser on a Goodbye Pork Pie-inspired train trip from Masterton to Wellington to avoid the city’s motorway network.

Nearly 1000 people around the country have answered Marc Ellis’ appeal for help, with route advice and offers of classic Kiwi hospitality. Each one has gone in the draw to win a 1970s FJ40 fully refurbished by Toyota’s own ‘Signature Class’ plant in Thames

He will meet locals and national legends alike on his journey, including netball icon Dame Lois Muir, multi-world champion shearer David Fagan, and rugby great ‘Grizz’ Wylie. His first passengers this morning were two Ngati Kuri kaumatua along Ninety Mile Beach.

The new FJ Cruiser’s design is unashamedly a tribute to the original FJ40. It has been specially fitted with high-tech navigation equipment, storage capacity, and even a fridge. Continue reading “Land Cruiser celebration journey begins at Cape Reinga” »