Category: ‘Car Technology’

Toyota Prius: The Car That Started A Revolution

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

With the Toyota Prius now being reborn in its 4th incarnation, it’s a great time to look back at the original Prius – the car that started the hybrid revolution. Now hybrids are so common that we have forgotten just how revolutionary this powertrain was when it was launched back in 1997. I remember my first ride in an early model on some hilly roads in Japan, and how it was such a different experience to what I had been used to up to that point.

Throughout history, cars have traditionally been damaging to the environment through the release of greenhouse gases that come about through the burning of fossil fuels (such as gasoline). The rise of “gas guzzlers” and their huge engines that came with the primarily US car culture of the 1960s and 1970s saw carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide and other nasties spewed into the air, causing the global climate damage leading to adverse health effects in large cities where pollution was rampant.

As time went on, however, more and more people began to realize that this was a serious problem – and thus, as global awareness of climate change and the dangers of pollution rose, car companies began to consider alternatives to the traditional gas-fueled vehicle.

Enter the hybrid car: a solid compromise between the gasoline-hungry polluter and the (as yet impossible to produce) all-electric car. Although the concept of hybrid cars has been around for a while – almost since the start of motoring itself, in fact – one car really set the trend for others to follow in the automobile industry, and became a favorite with consumers and critics alike: the Toyota Prius.

The first generation model was launched in Japan in 1997 and went on sale worldwide in 2000. Manufactured by the Japanese auto maker Toyota, this mid-size hatchback is currently sold in over 90 markets, of which Japan and the United States are the largest. In 2008, the Prius reached the global cumulative sales milestone of 1 million vehicles; from there, it grew exponentially, selling 2 million cars by September 2010 and 3 million mark by June 2013.

There is a reason that the car is so popular: its environmentally-friendly nature is appealing to many people who feel that they have an obligation to pollute as little as possible, but don’t have the means to purchase an all-electric car (or to not drive at all). Currently the United States Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board rank the Prius among the cleanest vehicles sold in the United States based on the quantity of emissions it releases. In 2016, the new Prius Eco has become the all-time most fuel efficient gasoline-powered car available in the US without plug-in capability – making it not only environmentally conscious, but accessible for many everyday working-class citizens.

The first-generation Toyta Prius, however, had not yet achieved such lofty heights. When it debuted at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1995, no one was quite sure how well the Prius would sell or whether it was even ready for the market; several more years of research and development went into the car before it could be sold in Japan. However, the car’s designers did have some inkling of what this vehicle could mean for the world; that’s why they named it the Prius, after the Latin word for “before.” According to the Boston Globe, a Toyota spokesperson stated that “Toyota chose this name because the Prius vehicle is the predecessor of cars to come.” Now, that name Prius is almost synonymous with tree-hugging – an eco-brand in its own right – loved by Greenpeace, hated by Jeremy Clarkson.

When it launched, the first generation Prius became the world’s first mass-produced gasoline-electric hybrid car. Its acclaim among critics was almost instantaneous: it won the Car of the Year Japan Award in 1997, and the Automotive Researchers’ and Journalists’ Conference Car of the Year award in Japan in 1998. Since then, the sales figures have spoken for themselves, as have each subsequent model’s new hybrid features and increasing move towards alternative, rather than gasoline-powered, energy.

The Prius, more than anything, prides itself on fuel efficiency – and it has achieved many of its goals in this regard. While the current fourth generation Prius is expected to achieve ratings of up to 116 MPG, the first generation vehicle already stood at an impressive 52 MPG, and thus was revolutionary for both the fuel economy and environmental benefits that it offered. Although it was not the first mass-produced hybrid in the U.S. – the Honda Insight came first – it was by far the most popular.

While there are still questions asked about just how environmentally friendly it actually is, considering all the exotic metals and materials that go into it, there is no doubt that the Toyota Prius is an iconic Japanese car.

Early Prius are very hard to find. I was not able to find any 1997s at auction or at dealers, and only 2 1998 models for sale by dealers. So instead I decided to go to the other end of the spectrum and check out the very latest model, of which you can already find many examples for sale in the Japanese car auctions. Here is the auction sheet translation:

“Grade S, interior A, exterior A, first registered April 2016, first time in auction, S Navigation Ready Package model, 3KM, in-dash AT, AAC, moo roof, maker option LED fog lamp, LED headlights, smart key, reversing rearview camera, steering wheel switches, vehicle proximity warning system, original alloy wheels, sunroof, airbag, power steering, power windows, hole where there is no stereo fitted, marks as per map”

2016 Toyota Prius at Japanese car auction -- inside

2016 Toyota Prius at Japanese car auction -- rear seat

2016 Toyota Prius at Japanese car auction -- rear

2016 Toyota Prius at Japanese car auction -- front

2016 Toyota Prius in Japanese car auction -- auction sheet


The Hydrogen Highway – Japan’s Bet Against Battery EVs

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

Japanese automotive manufacturer, Toyota, is reinforcing the government’s push for a “hydrogen highway” with it’s latest next-generation hybrid — Mirai, which means “future” in Japanese. Recently, at the New York International Auto Show, this new entry into Japan’s race to become a “hydrogen society,” was declared the 2016 World Green Car. Twenty-three countries — represented by 73 top-level automotive journalists — had to choose between eight entries, including the Toyota Prius Hybrid. Factors that the jurors took into consideration when making their selection included:

1. Tailpipe emissions
2. Fuel consumption
3. Use of an advanced power plant technology aimed at increasing the automobile’s environmental responsibility.

(Unfortunately, these journalists seem to have missed the point that many of the — very few — hydrogen refueling stations require fossil fuels for its production, and take a lot of engineering to build. Hardly very green!)

Toyota Mirai World Green Car of the Year 2016

Energy of the Future

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hopes hydrogen will help Tokyo find an alternative energy source to nuclear power, and reduce reliance on imported oil. Japan is the sixth largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world. Of course, an obvious option would be solar, wind and geothermal, which is why it is strange — except when you realize that the nuclear industry is a huge bureaucracy with deep connections to the government.

Group vice president and general manager, Bill Fay, of Toyota Division, points to three major factors about Mirai that will help lead the world in a more sustainable direction:

1. It has a per tank travel range of over 300 miles.
2. Unlike electric vehicles that can take several hours to recharge, refueling the Mirai can be done in under five minutes. Much like putting gasoline or diesel fuel in a car, a nozzle is inserted and a trigger squeezed to fill the tank.
3. Emissions consist solely of water vapor.

Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe; it is also incredibly powerful so Toyota has taken important steps in the design of its hydrogen tanks, which are tucked under and away from the back seats. Safety assurance is achieved through polymer-lined tanks that are carbon-fiber wrapped and multi-patented. Their three-layer structure is built to absorb five times the crash energy of steel. Additionally, the car has a unique frame design that distributes crash forces around the passenger cabin, the hydrogen tanks and the fuel cell stacks.

However, in the event of a high-speed collision, you’ll be relieved to know that several measures are in place to prevent any leaking and subsequent combustion of the hydrogen tanks.

First: Sensors stop the flow of hydrogen.

Second: Any leaked hydrogen is quickly dispersed.

Third: Hydrogen escapes safely and rapidly into the air.

Hisashi Nakai, who works in Toyota’s strategy planning department, dismisses concerns about hydrogen posing any dangerous explosion risks despite the highly volatile and flammable properties of the gas. Nakai insists that rigorous testing has been performed on the tank and that it can withstand any shock. “(Fuel-cell vehicles) appear to be the ideal green cars,” he says.

Of course, a cynic would say that with new battery tech on the way using graphene, a derivative of carbon, that will be virtually inert under impact, the fact that Toyota is considering replacing one explosive fuel (gasoiline) with another one (hydrogen) is a bit of a mystery.

Mirai Fuel Cell Anatomy

– No internal combustion (the process of burning something).
– No carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions — at least at the tail pipe.
– The electric motor is from an existing hybrid Lexus (Toyota’s luxury brand).
– A Power Control Unit (PCU) decides when to draw energy directly from the fuel cell stack or use stored energy from the battery.
– Hydrogen and oxygen are combined in an electrochemical reaction, which produces electricity.

The Cost of Conservation

– A comparable electric car costs 6.7 million JPY (roughly $55,000 U.S.)
– A Mirai fuel-cell car costs nearly double that amount.
– The central government throws in a subsidy of two million yen to the buyers to offset some of the purchase expense. Even though their contribution covers approximately one-fourth of the total cost of the car, the price is still very high.

Hype of the Hydrogen Highway

The Japan Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Demonstration Project is dedicated to building an infrastructure network of filling stations along roadsides, aka the “hydrogen highway.” This highly-publicized project is sure to be touted at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

The Japanese government said that it will subsidize half the total building expense for the first 100 locations and will bear some of the operational costs. As of March 2016, Japan had fallen 20 percent short of its target of 100 operational hydrogen stations due to the high cost of constructing them: about 400 million yen (over $3.2 million U.S.) each. Japan is not alone; slow construction of hydrogen refueling stations around the world is cramping efforts by automakers to convince the public that hydrogen is a viable option.

Japan’s Government Projections and Predictions

– There will be 4,200 hydrogen cars on the roads of Japan.

Deadline: 2018

– Toyota, specifically, plans to boost Mirai sales to 12,000 units in Japan.

Deadline: 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

– Prime Minister Abe envisions an annual hydrogen market worth one trillion yen ($8.3 billion U.S.), which would also supply hydrogen-producing technology to 5.3 million residences

Deadline: 2030

Postscript

It is hard not to rain on this parade, but … The expense of new fueling stations. The decidedly non-green way most hydrogen is being created. The major strides taking place in battery tech. The cost reductions in batteries when Tesla’s Gigafactory comes on line. All these and more are going to make the case for hydrogen difficult (or in this writer’s view impossible) to make over the coming years.

It would not be the first time Japan has embraced a technological evolutionary dead end — remember Betamax, or MD players ? — and with the full weight of bureaucratic inertia behind it, I would not be surprised if hydrogen fuel cell cars were the same.


Why Those Takata Airbags Didn’t Work Right

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

Automakers afflicted by the recent Takata airbag recalls have discovered three detailed causes for some of the inflator ruptures, according to initial findings from a study that will be available in the next couple of weeks.

One of the factors is phase-stabilized ammonium nitrate lacking a moisture-absorbing desiccant, as stated by the Independent Testing Coalition (ITC), a group of automakers formed in December of 2014 once they were named in the Japanese supplier’s recalls (BMW, Fiat-Chrysler, Honda, Ford, General Motors, Mitsubishi, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru, and Toyota).

That’s right. Always remember that this is a Japanese supplier, but this problem affects more than Japanese car makers. It’s certainly no reason to avoid buying a Japanese car brand.

According to the ITC, when moisture is present, “long-term exposure to repeated high-temperature cycling” and airbag inflator assemblies that do “not adequately prevent moisture intrusion” were also recognized, the group stated that “all of which contribute to the rupture of Takata airbag inflators.”

The testing, which ran over 20,000 hours and was conducted by Virginia-based defense contractor Orbital ATK, who is known to build rocket engines and ammunition, concentrated on the roughly 23 million inflators recalled in 19 million cars in the United States. Orbital will be running further tests to take in an additional five million recalled Takata inflators within this upcoming month. The will also test inflators manufactured with desiccant and new inflators that were made with the intention to replace parts for the recall. Though, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has acknowledged that this plan may not work in the long run. In an attempt to avoid that issue, Orbital will run an aging test.

In an earlier and separate report, NHTSA vehicle integrity chief Scott Yon stated that “long-term” testing can take five years or more. “The propellant wafers enlarge over time, at which point they become too large and begin to cause ruptures,” Yon wrote.

“This is not short term exposure to high absolute humidity like during a 2-week vacation or even for 5 months each winter,” he wrote. “It is continued exposure to high absolute humidity year round for multiple years in a row.”

As a result of the testing, NHTSA’s November consent order with Takata, in which it was fined $70 million over several years, might need to be amended. That’s how minority staff in the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation put it in a new report after reviewing official internal Takata paperwork.

“To protect the public from an unreasonable risk to safety, Committee minority staff believe that NHTSA should immediately exercise its authority under the Consent Order and Coordinated Remedy to accelerate the phase-out schedule for non-desiccated ammonium nitrate-based inflators and to create a phase-out schedule for desiccated ammonium nitrate-based inflators.”

As per the consent order terms, Takata will have until 2018 to stop production of all non-desiccated ammonium-nitrate inflators and then until 2019 to demonstrate that ammonium nitrate is harmless within its most recent products. While Takata did agree to stop any incoming contracts for desiccated ammonium-nitrate inflators, there is no existing production cap on the inflators.


Android Phone to Replace Head Unit in Honda Navigation Systems

Posted by Stephen On Friday, February 26th, 2016

It has long been a source of puzzlement to drivers around the world that a cheap smart phone or tablet can easily out-perform and be far more intuitive than the expensive systems installed in cars. Only Tesla’s gigantic touchscreen and BMW’s system have come anywhere near replicating that experience. But perhaps things are about to change.

It appears that Honda is avidly listening to its consumers and has pulled an item from their wish list to deliver an innovative concept in partnership with Drivemode. This new concept vehicle will completely replace the head unit with an Android phone that will be integrated with the car’s control. So simple. So obvious. So … why has no one done this before? (Hint: The car makers make a bunch of money off expensive control system upgrades.)

This single-button interface will use audio cues, finger taps, and display-wide swipes for functionality to ensure that you don’t take your eyes off the road to activate commands. The app has received an overwhelming 400,000 downloads already from automakers and drivers who are eager to try it out. Amongst the automakers who downloaded auto-centric Android app created by founders Yo Koga and HK Ueda was none other than Honda.

Drive Mode Android App

This new concept is not just about shoving a phone in the car’s dashboard; it’s more about integrating it with the vehicle’s controls. For example, the convenient buttons on the steering wheel that consumers love so much to control the radio will now control the app as well.

In addition, the back and right-side blind spot cameras will now display on the phone as well. Honda and Drivemode stated that this is still just a concept and possibly some years away from coming to fruition. However, it is part of an even bigger plan to build an app for automakers that replaces the old in-dash system. In the meantime, Drivemode is looking for other ways to make the new model a bit safer for consumers.

For example, Ueda says the app will eventually support aftermarket Bluetooth backup and blind spot cameras. So, drivers can buy the cameras and mount them to their cars, allowing them to have an additional safety feature, even if their vehicle didn’t have that option when purchased new from the car dealership.
 
For drivers who are unable to afford the trim levels that offer the smartphone-integrating options (or are are not looking to upgrade their vehicle), they will still have the ability to enjoy a more unified driving experience without weaving all over the busy road trying to launch Pandora. Regrettably, the app is only available for Android devices right now, but Drivemode is looking for extra funding to build the iOS version. Given Apple’s dominance in the smartphone market, this seems to be a no-brainer.

On the other hand, perhaps this is what the much rumoured Apple Car project is really all about….


Honda Active Life Concept at UK Triathalon Show

Posted by Stephen On Friday, January 22nd, 2016

The UK Triathlon Auto Show will take place at ExCel in London this year. It is a three-day event that will be held Feb. 11 through Feb. 14. This is where Honda plans on using this event to debut their Active Life Concept.

Honda Civic Active Life Tourer Concept Car

What appears to be a hatchback Honda Civic Sport Type R plans on having enough room to accommodate two bicycles in its trunk. It had to sacrifice a second seat to do it, but it’s also intended for a targeted audience – which I’m guessing is not families – but is those “active life” triathletes.

The really sweet thing about this car is that it has a retractable arm that will allow you to perform bike repair from the trunk. The toolbox, bottle holder, front wheel holder and the water take all integrated into the side lining.

It comes with a box in the roof – aerodynamically designed and sized perfectly for helmets and shoes – vital accessories for the avid mountain biker.

In photos, the concept car is blue and fades into a silver lining. Although suede and leather are found on the front seats, the Japanese automaker has continued the blue theme on the interior by adding blue stitching to the gearshift and the steering wheel – and then they touched it up with blue piping running through the center and upper outer areas of the two seats and directly into the suede door lining. The black roof interior is typical of a Honda Civic.

They may not be debuting this concept at the auto show, but is not the first time that this design has been presented. It made its first appearance at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show. The entire vehicle receives its inspiration from the Honda Civic Tourer estate – the same vehicle that is able to swallow up to 1668 liters of trunk space when the rear seats are folded down.

And not one to miss a chance to push their brand on the younger audience, Honda plans on affording children ages 5 to 11 the opportunity to try their hand at a motorcycle for the first time. The bike will be a standard 50cc bike and will be supervised by experienced trainers. After all, even youngsters need to learn the basics in a controlled and safe environment.


Toyota to Dealers: Don’t Sell Cars!

Posted by Stephen On Sunday, January 17th, 2016

Yes, this is the last thing you would expect the world’s largest car maker to say, but it’s true. And it’s nothing to do with the Takata airbag scandal either. No, the problems for the Mirai are more fundamental.

Toyota Mirai

Toyota has been advocating fuel cell powered cars more than any other car manufacturer. They have one, the Toyota Mirai. It’s an electric-powered vehicle whose primary source of power is not a battery.

Instead of a battery, it has a fuel cell that converts liquid hydrogen into electricity, which then turns an electric motor. There are times when the driver may demand more power than this fuel cell can provide. For those moments, a tiny 1kWh battery lends a helping hand to meet the demand.

In return, the vehicle has zero emissions, other than water vapor and perhaps a bit of heat. How’s that for government regulations and the public relations?

Despite Toyota investing billions of dollars into this new technology, they will only release about 300 of these vehicles between the Europe and the United States this year in 2016. Compare that number to the 10 million vehicles that the automaker sells per year, and you barely have a dot on the landscape.

That doesn’t stop Toyota from believing that hydrogen power is the way of the future. In fact, with the lobbying efforts of the Japanese government, the company appears to be betting its entire future on the technology.

It seems odd then that the company would be instructing dealers not to deliver the Mirai to customers. For a company whose slogan is, “Let’s Go Places,” the Marai sedan can’t really go anywhere.

This holds true even for the dealership that moves the most; a Toyota dealer in Santa Monica, California.
Why would Toyota do this? Honestly, they have solid reasoning.

Right now, there are 72 Toyota Mirai on the road in the US. However, these cars can’t just go to your conventional gas station to ‘fill ‘er up.” There aren’t enough refueling stations to keep the cars that are out there on the road, let alone enough fueling stations to support more cars being delivered.

Furthermore, what few stations that are out there don’t work very well. In fact, the move might be to keep Toyota and its dealers legally safe.

They are adamant to point out that they are still selling the car. What they’re not doing is delivering on the cars until more filling stations open up for the car.

Some people are quick to point out that Toyota should be building their own stations, and not rely on the taxpayer’s money to do it. They are saying that the world simply isn’t ready for hydrogen power quite yet. Perhaps in 50 years, but not now.


Nissan Aiming To Lead The Autonomous Car Race

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

Elon Musk claims that Tesla is in the process of making an autonomous vehicle and that they will be out with one long before the competition. Carlos Ghosn, the big boss at Renault-Nissan, disagreed. In fact, his response to Tesla’s claims was said to be “scathing.”

nissan-logo

Nissan seems to think that the earliest form of a self-driving vehicle will be in the market is 2020. Furthermore, Nissan claims to be in the process of making that happen.

Tesla says that self-driving vehicles will be on the market in as little as 24 to 36 months. In fact, Tesla claims that one of his company’s vehicles is set to drive across the United States within that timeframe. Ghosn wouldn’t budge on the matter – he says that true autonomy is still years away. Of course, it could be all down to semantics. Musk is known for his hyperbole, and Ghosn for his steely pragmatism.

At the preshow reception of the Detroit Auto Show, Ghosn tells journalists to “judge what’s already on the market.” What’s interesting is how stubbornly Ghosn insists that autonomous cars are still four years away.

What Is an Autonomous Car?

He asks people about the definition of an autonomous car. Does it mean that it can merely switch lanes? If that’s the case, then those vehicles are already here. However, when it comes to inner-city driving with complicated situations such as crosswalks, true autonomy is not here yet. He finished his speech by saying that consumers want to do more than just buy a car – they also want to drive it.

He says that even if we have the technology, road regulations still require drivers to have two hands on the wheel with their eyes on the road. The very idea of autonomy means that you can be preoccupied with something else – activities that do not include driving.

Autonomy Is a Revolutionary and Novel Idea

Ghosn does say this about self-driving cars. Autonomous cars are a revolutionary and novel idea because it will allow freedom of movement by the older generation. He says this technology will allow people to get around, despite any possible disability – including old age. Many people of the older generation stop driving because they lose the ability to drive. He says autonomous cars can provide a solution. On top of that, he says that the planet’s population is getting older, making autonomous cars not just a luxury, but a necessity. People who are 80 or 90 years old will be able to get around independently with an autonomous car.

While many people echo Ghosn’s comments, they also believe that truly autonomous cars will not be on the market until at least 2025 due to the complexities of an urban environment.


Honda, Mazda and Toyota All Drop Takata As A Premier Air Bag Supplier

Posted by Stephen On Saturday, January 9th, 2016

It’s not exactly industry news that Takata has been accused of altering air bag test data, but The New York Times has some new data to add to the story. Accordingly, The New York Times claims that they have gotten their hands on series of emails that shows that Takata employees joked around about altering air bag data, going as far as to doctor the results.

These messages were added to an incriminating lawsuit against Takata and Florida wherein of the airbags deployed, leaving her in a paraplegic state. She was paralyzed.
The emails were noted as having “gone beyond all reasonable bounds and now most likely constitutes fraud.”

Takata argues back

Takata was quick to argue back, saying that these emails were talking about the formatting of a presentation. In other words, they were taken completely out of context and had nothing to do with the current trend of recalling all the cars that carried Takata’s airbags.

This is not the first allegation of altered data

The New York Times gave Takata a rebuttal, claiming that this is not the first time that Takata has been accused of changing the test results of their airbags. They quote a Wall Street Journal investigation that took place in 2015 that revealed, at the very least, concerned that Takata might have been guilty of data alteration.
Honda was the first to drop Takata as an air bag supplier once they got a hold of the “faulty statistics.”

The $70 million (or $200 million) fine

In conjunction with the lawsuit in Florida, The United States Department of Transportation slaps Takata with a $70 million fine and is not done there. The penalty could be increased to up to $200 million. Following Honda, Toyota, Mazda and Ford all dropped Takata as their premier air bag supplier. At the very least, they were cited for refusing to use inflators powered by Takata signature ammonium nitrate propellant, now and in the future.

Frankly, given the billions of fines that VW is being targeted with, this looks like a paltry amount. Yes, pollution damages and kills, but not in quite the same instat and shocking way that these defective airbags do. One would have expected a much higher fine to be levied.

In the United States alone, over 19 million vehicles have been recalled because of the quality of the Takata airbags. Even still, these airbags may pose a danger. At the moment, nine deaths have been confirmed globally by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration relating to Takata’s airbags. The latest happened when a 13-year-old boy died while driving a 2001 Honda Accord coupe in December 2015.


Honda CR-V Touring: Econ to Sport Mode – How Much Does it Matter?

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

The 2015 Honda CR-V Touring came with two extra modes: the Econ mode and the Sport mode. Most people might enjoy the settings of the set-it-and-forget-it mindset in Econ mode while other situations call for the Sport mode. When placed side-by-side, do they really make all that much of a difference?

It’s about What Buyers Want

It’s nice that Honda included these modes, but they don’t really have as much of an impact as they should have had if Honda had focused on the purposes behind these modes. When the 2015 vehicle is not in either these modes, it has an 185-hp, all-wheel-drive that reaches 60 mph in 8.9 seconds. However, most buyers of this vehicle don’t really care about specs like that. Honestly, it doesn’t really matter because most people will be in stop-and-go traffic anyway. Besides, if you wanted better acceleration, you would be better suited with the Subaru Forrester – it can do the same zero to 60 in 6.4 seconds. Even the Ford Escape does better, doing 0 to 60 in 6.8 seconds. No, this isn’t about acceleration – it’s about what buyers want.

What Econ Mode Does

In fact, most buyers will probably leave the Econ mode on all the time. With the Touring is used for intercity traffic, buyers will get the most from their money by leaving Econ mode alone. Econ mode does three major things: it will adjust the HVAC system, adjust the cruise control systems, and relax the throttle response. The slower response makes it so that the Touring isn’t as responsive, but it’s not so dulled out as to make Econ mode unresponsive. In Econ mode, the Touring will make 0 to 60 and 9.7 seconds. In terms of statistics, thats really slow. But remember, most buyers don’t care about that. Econ mode it makes the Touring 7 percent more efficient – something buyers do care about.

Sport Mode Is Still Useful

The only time that most customers will use the Sport mode is if they’re trying to get the bank on a Friday afternoon, right before they close. Sport mode doesn’t make a huge difference but is still changing its behavior in a meaningful way. In Sport mode, the touring will make 0 to 60 in 8.7 seconds – a 0.2-second improvement.
Econ mode is what Honda was going for. It provides for a more efficient, well-rounded vehicle. Although Sport mode does make a difference, Econ mode has the potential to save buyers money – something that buyers look for when shopping for a vehicle.


Toyota Has the Safest Vehicles

Posted by Stephen On Friday, December 18th, 2015

Not that it comes as a big surprise, but Toyota has the most vehicles of any car manufacturer that has earned the Top Safety Pick Plus rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in the USA. Interestingly, this is Toyota’s second consecutive year with bragging rights. Every car manufacturer has something to brag about – but nothing comes quite as prestigious as having the safest vehicles on the market. This is something consumers are very concerned with.

Toyota Safety Sense Package

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Toyota is not the only one with vehicles that have earned this rating award. In fact, over 50 vehicle models have earned this award this year. It just so happens that Toyota is the manufacturer that has the most – with nine of the vehicles being either a Scion, Toyota or Lexus. Scion is considered a “low-cost” vehicle and is the only “low-cost” vehicle that has earned the rating.

For many manufacturers, forward collision protection (FCP) is optional – but not for the Scion. For the Scion iA, FCP is standard. This kind of protection is only afforded to a few luxury vehicles including all of Volvo models, only a few Mercedes models and the Acura RLX.

The Toyota Safety Sense Package

Toyota launched their all-new Toyota Safety Sense Package back in April 2015. The distinction being made here is that these packages were offered in two versions – a $300 version, and a $500 version. The reason that made headlines this is that every other manufacturer sells the benefits of this package for up to three times the amount that Toyota is asking for.

Safety at a Lower Cost

The less expensive $300 package includes benefits such as a pre-collision system, a lane departure alert system, and an automatic high beam. The more expensive package includes everything that the less expensive package includes as well as a dynamic radar cruise control system and a pedestrian pre-collision system. The dynamic cruise control system makes it so that when you set a speed, the car will automatically adjust its own speed if the vehicle approaches another vehicle too quickly. The vehicle will slow down to prevent the collision and then speed back up as soon as the vehicle in front of you either speeds up or switches lanes.