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Record month for Australian auto industry

The Toyota Hilux was Australia’s best-selling vehicle in November.

According to the latest results released by VFACTS, November sales sky-rocketed which have kept the Australian motor industry on target for another best-selling year.

Industry sales rolled past the 1 million mark for the year to date as the November total reached 101,365, a gain of 2.5 per cent on the same month last year.

This keeps the industry running at 0.6 per cent ahead of last year’s record pace.

Toyota remained the market leader with an 18.6 per cent share of the November sales, followed by Mazda, Hyundai and Holden, with a share of 9.2, 8.7 and 7.8 respectively.

The Toyota Hilux was Australia’s best-selling vehicle in November with 4,103 sales, followed by the Ford Ranger, the Toyota Corolla, Mazda3 and the Mazda CX-5.

Comparing November with the same period last year, small cars showed a 6.4 per cent increase against a general decrease in passenger car sales, which is down 7.3 per cent.

Majority of the market movement was again with the uptake of small and medium SUVs, the small SUV segment being the star performer where sales increased by 31.1 per cent.

SUV sales generally were up 8.6 per cent and light commercials up 7.9 per cent compared with November last year. Year to date, the two segments have risen 4.7 per cent and 7.5 per cent respectively.

Strong sales were recorded across all states except for the two territories which suffered slight falls. 

Business buyers returned in force to the November market. While sales to private buyers fell 3.4 per cent on the November 2016 result, business purchases of SUVs and light commercials rose by 12.9 per cent and 14.6 per cent respectively.

The Chief Executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, Tony Weber, said that with less than one month remaining, he remained confident that the industry would surpass last year’s record total.

“The momentum built in the market over the past few months appears to be continuing so we’re on target for another record year,” he said.

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All new Toyota Camry

Toyota New Zealand will introduce the all new Toyota Camry, New Zealand’s top selling medium-sized sedan in early 2018.

2018 Toyota Camry

The latest Camry boasts higher power and better fuel economy, a revamped chassis that sharpens driving dynamics and advanced new safety technologies.

“The 2018 Camry is a totally new car from bumper to bumper,” said Spencer Morris, Toyota New Zealand’s General Manager of Product.

“There is a lot of new technology in next year’s Camry, starting with the adoption of Toyota’s New Global Architecture (TNGA), which has transformed the way Toyota vehicles are designed, engineered and packaged.”

The manufactured in Japan sedan, which replaces the Australian built car, has just been launched across the Tasman.

The cornerstones of the 2018 Camry are the redesigned hybrid system with a new four-cylinder engine that delivers more power, flexibility and efficiency, and a stunning new V6 engine with direct-injection technology and an eight-speed transmission.

Full details of the Camry model range and its pricing will be announced at the time of the New Zealand launch.

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Forget electric, Toyota’s bets lie in hydrogen

Just as most of the industry is pushing for electric vehicles in order to reduce auto emissions, Toyota is banking on hydrogen fuel cells as its zero-emission option. 

Toyota believes that hydrogen is a more practical energy source due to batteries being only suitable for short urban commutes. 

Out of the approximately 10 million vehicles Toyota sells around the world, only 4,000 fuel-celled Toyota Mirai have been sold since late 2014, with roughly half being sold outside of Japan.

Hydrogen fuel cells don’t suffer from the EVs’ main drawback of limited range. Although, the Tesla Model S can go about 480 kilometres on a single charge, but this isn’t the norm, standard EVs usually run out of charge a lot quicker.

Toyota’s chairman, Takeshi Uchiyamada, believes hydrogen is an ideal, stable fuel for a future low-carbon society.

“Hydrogen doesn’t exist in the natural world on its own, but you can create hydrogen from various materials,” he said.

A fuel cell mixes hydrogen with the oxygen in the air to generate electricity that can power a motor. Ultimately, the idea is to convert energy from renewables like wind and solar power into hydrogen.

Unlike a gas-powered internal combustion engine, the only byproducts from a fuel cell are electricity, heat and water. There are no emissions of pollutants that can cause global warming. 

Toyota and other manufacturers pursuing hydrogen fuel cells face some significant hurdles. Japan has 28,000 EV charging stations but only 92 hydrogen fuelling stations.

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Toyota on becoming import only

The demise of Australian vehicle production has meant that Toyota has transformed into an import-only brand, following in the footsteps of former manufacturers Holden and Ford Australia. (more…)

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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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