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Japanese market set to shrink

With a shrinking domestic market, the powers that be at Toyota Motor Corp have decided to halve the number of car models sold in Japan by 2025. 

The decision has been made in response to a declining trend as the Japanese population ages and the younger generation chooses alternative measures to car ownership. 

Meanwhile, automakers worldwide are increasingly focusing their research and development efforts on electric vehicles (EVs) and autonomous driving technology. 

Toyota will gradually cut the models down from 60 to 30 by 2025, according to an unauthorised spokesperson who was interviewed by worldwide news provider, Reuters.

The news comes close behind an announcement by Honda Motor Co Ltd, to end production at a domestic factory by 2022.

 

“As Toyota begins to develop EVs for markets including China, Europe and the United States, they will likely focus on making models which can be sold both at home and abroad,” says Yoshiaki Kawano, manager of Japan/Korea vehicle sales forecasts at IHS Automotive.

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Chris Amon honoured by Toyota

Toyota has announced it will commemorate Kiwi motorsport great Chris Amon with a special edition of its 86 sports coupe.

Amon, who passed away in August, was described as “…one of the most skilful and natural drivers ever to grace Formula One” by three-time champion Sir Jackie Stewart. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Amon’s and Bruce McLaren’s victory in a Ford GT40 at Le Mans.

Chris Amon passed away in August.

The Chris Amon Edition GT86 is powered by a two litre “boxer” engine that produces 152 kW and 212 Nm of torque. Standard equipment includes keyless entry and ignition, dual zone climate control air conditioning, a multi information display, privacy glass, a six speaker audio system, and satellite navigation with SUNA traffic channel which is not currently available on any other 86 variant.

Safety features include seven airbags, vehicle stability control, traction control, LED daytime running lights and headlights with automatic levelling and cruise control.

The Chris Amon Edition GT86.

Named after the classic AE86 Corolla coupe of the 1980s, Toyota says the GT86 Chris Amon Edition also evokes the spirit of the original Toyota sports model of the 1960s, the 2000 GT.

Steve Boyce, Motorsport Manager for Toyota New Zealand, says that Amon was also the cornerstone of the Toyota Racing Series in New Zealand.

“His legacy and patronage, both to local and to international protégés, continues through the Chris Amon Edition GT86.”

Chris Amon was a vehicle development and motorsport consultant to Toyota New Zealand for more than 30 years.

The Chris Amon Edition GT86 is available now, at $55,990.

 

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Isuzu joins leader board

There were 1,148 used commercial vehicles sold during August, which was a 14.6 per cent increase on the 1,002 units registered in August 2016.

Toyota continues to hold on to its pole position as market leader with 520 registrations, up 7.9 per cent on August last year when 482 units were sold. Nissan followed with 269 registrations up a healthy 26.3 per cent on the same month last year on 213 units, and Isuzu was third with 74 sales, a massive 68.2 per cent increase on August 2016’s sales of 44 units and relegating Mazda into fourth.

Once again, the Toyota Hiace was the top used commercial model.

Year to date, Toyota has a 46.8 per cent share of the market with 4,025 registrations, while Nissan has a 21.5 per cent market share with 1,845 sales and Mazda continues to hold onto third with a 6.8 per cent market share on 589 units.

Toyota Hiace held steady at the top of the commercial vehicle models table with 399 registrations for the month, an increase of 13.7 per cent on August 2016, and a market share of 34.8 per cent. Year to date, there has been 3,048 Hiace sold for an overall market share of 35.4 per cent. Nissan Caravan registrations fell 7.6 per cent from 92 in August last year to 85 last month, while the Mazda Bongo was third despite a 30.9 per cent drop from 68 sales a year ago to 47 in August. Isuzu Forward had a 214.3 per cent increase in sales from seven during August 2016 to 22 last month.

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Toyota’s Prius gets a facelift

Toyota has announced details and pricing for its best known hybrid model, the Prius c.

The Prius c sees updated styling, with a design that looks closer to their Corolla model than the Prius’ original design, that has since become synonymous with hybrid vehicles globally.

The new Prius c, image supplied.

The price for the standard Prius c 1.5 Hybrid GX Hatch in New Zealand will be $29,990, while you’ll have to pay an extra $9,500 for the Prius c 1.5 Hybrid SX Hatch, at $32,490.

It sees new styling for the bonnet, front bumper, grille, and headlights. At the rear, the bumper and combination lamps have also been redesigned.

The SX model will have privacy glass, a new 15-inch alloy wheel design, chrome plated ornamentation of the upper grille, power folding door mirrors and a new rear roof spoiler.

New colours will be available too.

Wider 185/60 R15 tyres replace the 175/65 R15 rubber used on the outgoing model and reversing sensors have been added, and a 1.5 litre petrol engine generates total system power of 73.6kW. Toyota say this provides for a “fun and engaging on-road experience”, while still delivering fuel economy and environmentally friendly emissions levels.

Standardised tests for fuel consumption comparison purposes resulted in a combined usage of 3.9 litres/100 km with CO2 emissions of 90 g/km.

Both the GX and SX models come with seven air bags, reversing camera, Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio streaming capabilities, a six speaker audio system with 6.1-inch touch screen display, cruise control, tilt and telescopic adjustable steering wheel, front fog lights, and a 60:40 split folding rear seat.

Toyota New Zealand’s General Manager of Product Spencer Morris said that the Prius is NZ’s most affordable hybrid car.

“With an updated design and more equipment, the Prius c still provides the most affordable new car entry to fuel efficient hybrid motoring,” said Morris.

“It makes an ideal city runabout due to the hybrid powertrain’s economic engine management in rush hour and stop start traffic.”

 

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Toyota awards trip to Japan to lucky schoolgirl

An excited ten-year-old kiwi girl has won a trip to Japan as part of a competition run by Toyota run between last November and February 2017.

Over 830,000 children from 79 countries submitted entries to their country’s iteration of the Toyota Dream Car Art Contest, which in New Zealand was run between last November and February 2017.

Palmerston North winner, Sophie Irvine.

Sophie Irvine, who lives in Palmerston North, won the competition for her vivid imagination, and will get to travel to the home of Toyota for six days. The trip includes two days visit to the Toyota facilities at Nagoya with other winners from the oceanic region.

Sophie is set to make the most of her prize. “I am so excited to be off to Japan,” said Sophie, “I have learnt an introduction speech in Japanese that I can share with my hosts.”

Sophie was competing in the 8-11 year olds section of the competition, which also catered for under eight year olds and 12-15 year olds, with hundreds of New Zealand children submitting entries.

She won for her creative “Bee-Car Seed Library” entry, which collects and sprinkle seeds world-wide to promote more plant growth on earth. Some seeds are funnelled to a library for future use.

Toyota New Zealand senior executives, guided by the CEO of Te Manawa Museum, Andy Lowe, judged the entries, with the top three in each age group being submitted to Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan.

Artworks were judged on three key elements – the message, the uniqueness and the art characteristics.

“When kids have a chance to imagine the future and improve the world their children will live in, there are no boundaries,” said Andrew Davis, Toyota New Zealand’s General Manager of Marketing.

“I loved Sophie’s colourful interpretation of the theme and the bee’s Learner plate, she really thought outside the box.”

Sophie left for Japan yesterday, and her trip include sight-seeing in Tokyo and Tokyo Disneyland before returning home.

The Toyota Museum, Nagoya, Japan.

 

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32 grants to celebrate 100th

The MTA is awarding 32 scholarships to people taking up apprenticeships in the automotive sector in celebration of its 100th birthday.

One of the awardees is Timaru based apprentice Jeremy Kartolo, who is serving his apprenticeship with South Canterbury Toyota. His course fees for his apprenticeship will be covered by MTA, and Kartolo is sure that his background will help him excel.

Credit: RWD Photography

Jeremy Kartolo, an awardee of an MTA scholarship. Credit: RWD Photography.

Kartolo is a keen jazz pianist, and he believes his background in studying music will be an advantage in getting though his apprentices course work. He loves learning things – whether it’s a new jazz piece, or how to pull the wheel bearings out of a Landcruiser.

Cars have been a near lifelong interest for Kartolo, “I can remember being a kid and watching the cars go past our house and trying to work out what make they were, then later, I wanted to know how they worked.”

Kartolo is the son of Indonesian Immigrants and is proud of both his local ties, and his heritage.

The MTA was formed in April in 1917 by a group of Business owners in Fielding. The movement quickly gained support and the MTA now represents over 4,000 automotive industry businesses throughout the country.

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BMW release first details of new Z4

BMW group has released the first details of their new Concept Z4 roadster today, that the car maker says is pared back, free from distractions, and will provide a more direct driving experience.

BMW has released details of a concept roadster with an emphasis on functionality and form. The press release from BMW focused largely on the looks of the car, boasting a design that is “undeniably sporty in nature” and “a departure from the BMW norm”.

BMW says the Concept Z4’s interior is a pure-of-purpose driving environment.

The new Z4 takes a new aesthetic direction from previous models, with noticeably sharper lines and a more angular form. Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design says that “the BMW Concept Z4 expresses the new BMW design language from all perspectives and in all details.”

BMW has deliberately referenced design elements from some of its more popular earlier models. The broad kidney grille and headlights that are positioned higher up on the car is reminiscent of the Z8, while the inside of the kidney grille features an elaborately designed mesh that BMW says was inspired by the design of its 328 Mille Miglia.

The roadster will display carbon fibre detailing in an insert in the central air intake and in the door sill finisher. The carbon fibre diffuser on the rear end adds to the roadsters sports focused styling.

In regards to engine, BMW is remaining coy at this stage. Still, details of a highly anticipated model such as this one never stay secret for long, and documents leaked on Wednesday, and reported by the Car and Driver blog, give us some idea of what to expect from the new Z4.

The leaked BMW coding sheet details a real-wheel drive only model that will come with a four or six cylinder engine. The entry level Z4 for the US will feature a reported turbocharged four that will deliver 187 kW of power. A more powerful model, the Z4 M40i will reportedly feature a 3.0 litre inline-six with an output of 269 kW. Both models will likely be available in automatic and manual options.

The official release from BMW and the information leaked earlier this week highlight some key differences between the new Z4 and its sister model, the Toyota Supra. The new Supra is expected to debut in 2018. While the Supra will share an automatic gearbox and some electrical componentry with the Z4, further leaked details suggest the Supra will differ in its hybrid, four-wheel-drive engine that combines a BMW petrol engine with electric motors with energy stored in supercapacitors. Toyota has also refrained from officially revealing any technical specifications of their new model.

BMW plans to unveil the production model of the Concept Z4 next year.

Promotional image of the new BMW Z4 Concept roadster.

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Toyota, Mazda to build joint EV plant

Executives announced the partnership at a conference in Tokyo over the weekend.

Japanese rivals Toyota and Mazda have announced they will join forces to build a $2.2 billion electric car factory in the US.

Toyota has also announced a plan to take a five per cent share of Mazda Motor Corp as part of the new joint venture.

The plant will be capable of producing 300,000 vehicles a year, executives told journalists at a news conference in Tokyo, and will employ approximately 4,000 people. Vehicle production is slated to begin in 2021.

Reuters reports that future EVs will include a Toyota Corolla and a Mazda crossover utility vehicle.

“There will be new rivals appearing – Apple, Google – these are IT companies, we also need to compete with them too,” said Toyota president Akio Toyoda.

Toyoda said that the development of electric vehicles and alternative energy, which he has been overseeing in the company since last year, was different than traditional combustion engines.

“There are no nautical charts for us to follow,” he added. “It’s without precedent.”

Toyota has previously set a goal for all vehicles to be zero emission by 2050. Until now, the top-selling car maker has been investing heavily in hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles over EVs, which it said are best suited for short-distance commuting.

Toyota and Mazda are the two of the top-selling passenger car brands in New Zealand, taking out first and third place respectively in both new and used passenger vehicle sales last month.

A future mass-produced Toyota EV would cause a storm amongst electric Kiwi drivers; the major electric-powered Toyota model currently on the market, the Prius, was New Zealand’s top-selling hybrid and eighth highest-selling used vehicle overall in July. 

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Toyota may bring Gladiator to the public

The Hilux Gladiator concept ute unveiled at Fieldays last month proved so popular, Toyota New Zealand is considering developing a version for the public.

“We built it as a show case vehicle for the Toyota display at the 2017 Mystery Creek Fieldays demonstrating a broad spectrum of customisation,” said Spencer Morris, Toyota New Zealand’s general manager of product. “We were thrilled at the response.”

The Gladiator concept, which began as a standard 4WD Hilux SR5 model, was built with the assistance of Retro Vehicle Enhancements, and included a suspension lift kit with offset 20-inch alloy wheels and tyres.

A specially-designed bull bar and winch, sump guard, snorkel, bolt-on flares, LED roof rack lights and sports bar with custom mounts for spare tyre and tools all matched the suspension, and the design was finished with custom Gladiator graphics.

Inside the cabin, a full red leather interior with carbon fibre trim and Gladiator branded mats finished off the look.

“Any commercially available Gladiator model will be slightly more practical” said Morris, who added that “some of the parts on the concept would need a special low volume certification.”

A previous accessorised Hilux Gladiator was a hit for Toyota, Morris said, with over 100 utes sold in 18 months, and he was confident the new model would also be a success.

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Huge demand for used commericals

Sales of used commercial vehicles have continued their massive increase on last year’s figures, with 1129 units registered during June.

This is a remarkable 30.7 per cent rise on June 2016’s sales figure of 864 units. A total of 6362 used commercials have been sold year to date, compared with 4905 during the first half of 2016 – up 29.7 per cent.

The popularity of the Toyota Hiace continues, with 423 units registered in June, a large rise of 38.7 per cent on the same month last year which had 305 unit sales. The Hiace accounted for 37.5 per cent of the total sales last month.

The Nissan Caravan continues to hold its place in second with 82 sales, a 4.7 decrease on June 2016 when 86 were sold, and it holds 7.3 per cent of the monthly market registrations. It is followed by the Mazda Bongo with 51 sales, up 10.9 per cent on June 2016, and it has a 4.5 per cent market share. As a result, these three models helped their respective brands take the same top three sales positions.

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NZ’s song for America’s Cup

Kiwi singer-songwriter and Toyota New Zealand ambassador, Jason Kerrison, has released a song to celebrate Emirates Team New Zealand’s victory in the America’s Cup.

The songwriter was joined by Betty Anne Monga from Ardijah and Annie Crummer, who was involved in the original Team New Zealand anthem song in 1987, Sailing Away.

“You don’t get many opportunities to write the music for this kind of thing, and after the heartbreak of last time we thought it would be great to put together a song to express the support the whole of New Zealand was showing,” said Kerrison.

“Emirates Team New Zealand’s campaign has been a huge success, and it’s great to have been
supporting the team now for 25 years. Like the rest of New Zealand we’ve been enjoying the
celebrations, and part of this is sharing Jason’s song to our audience,” said Andrew Davis,
Toyota New Zealand’s General Manager of Marketing.

To listen to the song, click here.

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