50 years and 6 million units later, the Toyota Hiace still gets no respect

Not much of a birthday party. (c) Bertel Schmitt

Life isn’t fair. Tesla built a little over 80,000 units last year, end everybody is going gaga. Then there is a vehicle that is built more than 200,000 times each year, and it gets no respect. Tesla built some 250,000 cars since inception. That other vehicle was built more than 6 million times. In the last 48 hours, 10% of the 3,100 stories scanned by the DailyKanban Newsbot were about Tesla. None were about the Toyota Hiace. This morning, the Hiace celebrated its 50th birthday, and 12 hours later, even that festive occasion won’t rate a single headline. Meanwhile, the mediocre Tesla smartphone battery gets 845,000 hits on Google.

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I have seen the taxi of the future, and it is indigo blue

Ribbon-cutting ceremony for the JPN Taxi (c) Bertel Schmitt

Yesterday, I was given an early glimpse of the taxi of the future. It looks a little bit like the offspring of a mésalliance between a London taxi and an Escalade. It will be piloted by a legacy human driver, it won’t have Wifi, it will be powered by propane gas, and its color will be deep blue, if Toyota gets its wish.

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Toyota to launch cars that read your mind

Mind reading in action, subject dozed off (c) Bertel Schmitt

Elsewhere in the world, AI stands for artificial intelligence, and Elon Musk said that it will trigger World War III. In Japan, “Ai” stands for “love.” It was the first Japanese word I learned two hours after my arrival in Tokyo 12 years ago, and I promptly married the teacher. Taking a bow to the double meaning, Toyota today showed double-AI cars to a small group of reporters assembled at the company’s Tokyo HQ. We received a preview of mind-reading cars, driven by a lot of artificial intelligence, and a whole lotta love.

At the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show, Toyota will show concepts of two cars, and a three-wheeled mobility device. Unlike other cars that run on hydrocarbons or electricity, Toyota’s concepts are driven by the power of love. Dubbed “TOYOTA Concept-i series,” the vehicles are “based on the idea that cars are among the manufactured goods that are preceded by the word ‘beloved’,” we heard today. “The TOYOTA Concept-i series aims to become a ‘beloved car’ of a new era guided by the concept of ‘more than a machine, a partner’.” So far for the press release (full version here.) Now comes the eerie part: [Continue Reading]

Toyota Gets Its Performance Brand

(c) Bertel Schmitt

Rumors that Toyota would turn its Gazoo Racing Team into a performance sub-brand had been floating around Tokyo for more than a year. Today, it became official.

“The decision was made to launch a new sports brand, the GR brand,” Shigeki Tomoyama, CEO of GR, said at an event at Toyota’s Megaweb in Tokyo.

As expected, GR becomes Toyota’s performance sub-brand, something like BMW’s M, Mercedes’s AMG, Volkswagen’s R or Lexus’s F. The GR brand is being launched with nine models, ranging from a souped-up GR 86, on the basis of Toyota’s 86 sports car, all the way to a hot-rod GR Sport Voxy minivan. [Continue Reading]

Google And Apple Knocking On The Car Door? ‘No, We Won’t Let Them Inside,’ Toyota Exec Says

Didier Leroy Oct. 26 2016 Tokyo

Google and Apple supposedly have performed a tactical retreat in their efforts to disrupt the car industry, and shifted from making cars to developing software for same. It will be a hard sell as large global automakers turn to coding their own. This week, Toyota and Renault-Nissan joined the growing chorus of “Google, no thanks.”

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Volkswagen And Toyota In Neck-And-Neck Race For Global Top Spot

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Usually, when the leaves turn golden outside, the World’s Largest Automaker title is a foregone conclusion. This time, it’s dramatically different. Toyota and Volkswagen have produced nearly exactly the same number of vehicles this year so far, and the race remains wide open.

January through September, Volkswagen Group and Toyota Motor Co. produced 7.609 million units across all their brands, data released by the companies show. Officially, Toyota is ahead of VW by a mere 336 units, a fraction of a rounding error for companies that are used to making 10 million cars per year, each.

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Suzuki’s Dalliance With Toyota, A Prelude For LTR

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“If we don’t share, we won’t survive,” said Osamu Suzuki, chairman of Suzuki Motors, today. The auto industry’s grand seigneur gave a whole new meaning to “share society” at the Tokyo headquarters of Toyota, where Suzuki, flanked by a much younger Aiko Toyoda, announced what a reporter in the room characterized as an “engagement between Suzuki and Toyota.” Of course, that’s not the official line. Yet.

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World’s Largest Automakers 2016: Toyota Pulls Ahead Of Volkswagen — By A Hair

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Who will be the world’s largest automaker by the end of the year? As the race between global giants Toyota Motor Corp and Volkswagen AG gets increasingly tighter, the answer likely will remain in doubt for months to come. Earlier in the year,  Toyota was out-delivered by Volkswagen, and the supposedly dieselgate-doomed German automaker had a clear shot at reaching its declared target and become the world’s largest. Today, the picture changed. After a sudden push in August deliveries, Toyota now leads VW – not by a whole lot, though.

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