Toyota Acceleration Cases Reach Settlement

Toyota Motor Corp. has announced that a settlement has been reached in hundreds lawsuits it had been facing for the headline-grabbing unintended acceleration problems many of its cars and trucks had. The Japanese automaker says that it will pay out more than $1 billion as part of the settlement.

These cases were filed against the carmaker in 2009 after Toyota began getting complaints about its vehicles accelerating on their own. The allegations are that unintended acceleration lead to accidents, injuries, and fatalities.

Talking about the settlement, Steve Berman, a lawyer representing Toyota owners, his clawed fingers curled with glee, said, “We kept fighting and fighting and we secured what we think was a good settlement given the risks of this litigation.”

Adding that this is the largest settlement for automobile defects in American history. Berman said, “We are extraordinarily proud of how we were able to represent the interests of Toyota owners, and believe this settlement is both comprehensive in its scope and fair in compensation.”

To make the payment, Toyota will take a single $1.1 billion pre-tax charge against earnings.

 The carmaker is placing a tip-top spin on the news with Christopher Reynolds, Toyota vice president and general counsel, saying, “In keeping with our core principles, we have structured this agreement in ways that work to put our customers first and demonstrate that they can count on Toyota to stand behind our vehicles.”    

More than 14 million vehicles had already been recalled by Toyota throughout the world due to acceleration and braking problems.

Toyota is making its first entry into the livery market with the Avalon, the Japanese automaker’s full-sized sedan. In total, Toyota is planning to sell 69,000 Avalon models to retail customers and 1,000 as livery cars.

Made to compete with the Lincoln MKT, Cadillac XTS, and Chrysler 300, the Avalon is loaded with prime features such as heated front seats, moonroof, backup camera, and integrated garage door opener. However, the Avalon XLE-based livery model will have heated rear seats rather than front and not have the moonroof or integrated door opener. It will have rear climate controls.

Toyota Whizzes to Electric Race Car Nurburgring Record

Toyota’s racing unit has conquered the Nuburgring track with a fully-electric racing car completing the 12.8 mile loop, lovingly called the Green Hell, in fewer than 10 minutes.

The battery-powered car whirring like an artist’s drill knocked off 25 seconds from the record that had been set nearly two years ago by the TMG EV 002 jockeyed by Jochen Krumbach. Though in the production department Toyota remains devoted to hybrids, not electric vehicles, the automaker admits that its racing efforts and its electric runs up Pikes Peak each year help the Japanese carmaker improve its green vehicle technology.

Lexus has announced that it is expanding its product line. No longer will the Japanese luxury automaker be known for producing high-quality, yet less than exciting, cars.

 Mark Templin, general manager of the Toyota luxury brand, said that Lexus may be entering the compact crossover market with something that is smaller than its present line of RX models. Templin also said that Lexus could be coming back to the supercar market at some time in the future, perhaps as far as four years from now.

Finally, there is good reason to believe that the automaker will soon enter the hybrid battle either in the states or overseas by releasing up to eight hybrid models by 2014 or 2015. Talking about this, Templin said, “Absolutely, we are dedicated to hybrids and will have lot.”

2012 Toyota Prius C Mileage a Mystery

Though the gas mileage of the 2012 Toyota Prius C is indeed impressive, there exists much confusion online and on the roads as to just what the correct mile-per-gallon rating actually is.

On the one hand are the white lab coats at the Environmental Protection Agency who rate the hybrid with a city mpg figure of 53, highway 46 and combined 50. Happy numbers, these are, no doubt. Moreover, these are ratings that other real drivers are achieving in their own day-to-day driving.

However, that is not the whole story, for, as is often uttered, mileage will vary.

Some folks in online Prius chat rooms are reporting ratings of as low 31 miles to the gallon. There’s even one poster who reported just 22 mpg at, ahem, 100 miles per hour. People are learning that engines that have been engineered to be efficient are especially inefficient at higher speeds.

BMW Teams with Toyota to Develop Fuel Cell Vehicles

BMW has announced that it is partnering up with Toyota to develop fuel cell vehicles. The decision ends the German automaker’s partnership with General Motors that had been in place for the same purpose. The Memorandum of Understanding between the two carmakers lays out their plans to develop a sports car making the use of electric powertrains, fuel cell technology and light-weight technology.

The fuel cells that they will work on will be hydrogen technology and lithium-ion batteries. It is also believed that they will tighten up their diesel engine technology as well. The current rumors are that BMW will fit this yet-to-be created technology into an entry-level sports car called the Z2, while its Japanese friend will use it for the hybrid offspring of the old Supra.

Toyota is thrilled that BMW has jilted GM in its favor. Speaking about this, Toyota CEO, Akio Toyoda, said, “Toyota is strong in environment-friendly hybrids and fuel cells. On the other hand, I believe BMW’s strength is in developing sports cars. I am excited to think of the cars that will result from this relationship.”

Toyota Sales Surge by Nearly 90% in May

Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. is well on its way to recovering from a rough patch of recall troubles and sales difficulties brought about by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami. The Japanese automaker’s raw volume sales were up a eye-popping 87.3 per cent this May as compared to May 2011. In total, TMS moved 202,973 units in the month.

The Toyota Division had a rip-roaring month as well moving 181,510 vehicles worldwide, an 88.9 per cent increase in its volume from May 2011. Bubbling over about this success the buoyant Bob Carter, Toyota Division group vice president and general manager, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., said, “We’re grateful to our customers who have made Toyota the number one retail brand in America for the third consecutive month. Our growth has been driven by the success of our new products, led by Camry and Prius family, part of the most aggressive product launch in our history.  With the much anticipated Scion FR-S on sale today and the continued recovery of the overall automotive market, we’re confident our sales momentum will continue.” 

If Toyota is able to continue to ride this trend, the auto-juggernaut may soon once again regain the title of being the world’s number one automaker.

Toyota’s HiLux model has reached both the North Pole and South Pole to set a world record by becoming the first model to do so.

Its journey started way back in 2007 when the television show Top Gear entered a HiLux into a race to the magnetic North Pole. It made it. Then, this year three Toyota HiLux vehicles reached the South Pole after a fourth-month journey in Antarctica as part of a special challenge that was set up by the event organizer behind the Extreme World Races that had brought the model to the North Pole five years previously.

The 5,900-mile trek to the South Pole was an arduous one that had the HiLux crew braving temperatures of negative 58 degrees and altitudes up to 11,000 feet. To deal with the brittle temperatures, the HiLux vehicles ran on A1 jet fuel. However, it must be noted that the vehicles’ engines and transmissions were not modified.

Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda has announced that his automaker will keep jobs and production in Japan in order to help his battered nation recover from last year’s earthquake and subsequent tsunami.
Toyoda, who just became president this week, tied his company’s commitment to the nation to a call for the Japanese government not to raise the sales tax. Calling such taxes at times of such uncertainty a “moral hazard, he said, “Companies that are working hard should be rewarded.”   
With last year’s vehicle sales dropping by 15% in the island nation, Toyoda’s stern promise flies in the face of some rather cold numbers. However, according to Toyoda, now is not the time to go limp. “In these tough times, we must take up the challenge of bringing revival back to Japan and of bringing back smiles to Japan,” said Toyoda.

Toyota has successfully got the majority of the cases accusing it of driving down the value of its vehicles by hiding information about defects related to unintended acceleration dismissed in New York and Florida. The ruling means that Toyota owners whose cars never accelerated unintentionally have no right to sue for economic loss.

This level-headed decision is the exact opposite of a decision recently made in, not surprisingly, California by U.S. District Judge James Selna that says Toyota owners could sue for economic loss caused by the overall drop in value of their cars due to the unintended acceleration scandal.

The battle to the East continues as, well despite the finding. The lead lawyer for the plaintiffs claiming economic loss, Steve Berman, saying his group will appeal the decision in New York and Florida, said, “Given the thousands of crashes, hundreds of deaths, Toyota’s inability to fix the cars, we don’t believe courts in New York or Florida would agree.”

[Thanks to our friends @ Auto Loans Florida for this tip]

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