Posts Tagged ‘volvo’

Toyota Says No to Driverless Cars; Unveils Mark X in JDM

Posted by Stephen On Friday, September 12th, 2014

Nissan Autonomous Drive

This just in: the automaker that single-handedly pioneered advanced technologies like hydrogen fuel cells and commercial hybrid vehicles will NOT participate in the driverless future. That’s right – the world’s largest Japanese car maker, Toyota, will set their sights on safety while the rest of the industry focuses on driverless automation.

The announcement came last Thursday at the automaker’s Advanced Safety Seminar in Michigan. At this year’s event, Toyota’s Deputy Chief Safety Technology Officer, Seigo Kuzumaki, bluntly stated that, “Toyota’s main objective is safety, so it will not be developing a driverless car.”

While we could have probably ended today’s story right there, we figured you’d want to hear why Toyota isn’t interested in what many claim is the car of the future. It turns out that Toyota’s own market research hasn’t shown a strong desire from today’s drivers for an automated driverless car. Not only that, Mr. Kuzumaki also informed us that even if the technology for a driverless car were realistic (which he reiterated – it isn’t), the vast infrastructure needed to support fully automated driving is a very long ways away.

Instead of full computer automation, Toyota says they will use their resources to improve the connection between human and machine. At the safety seminar another Toyota representative, Kristen Tabar of Toyota’s Technical Center, said, “The human being is the ultimate in sensor fusion. We have the visual, audible advantage, all the different inputs to make the best judgment moving forward.”

So, don’t expect Toyota to join the ranks of Google, Volvo or Nissan on the hands-free road to driverless cars.

But don’t leave just yet – this isn’t the only piece of Toyota news we have for you today!

Since Toyota’s focus on safety is a straightforward and – let’s be honest – boring story, we’re rewarding you for getting this far with an extra piece of automotive eye candy.

This, friends, is the Toyota Mark X Yellow Label edition:

2015 Toyota Mark X Yellow Label

Beautiful, ain’t she?

The Mark X Yellow Label is a five-year refresh for the current generation of Toyota’s JDM sport sedan. In addition to the vibrant yellow paint job (which is optional), the limited edition Mark X will get a matching yellow or black interior with piano-black trim and pink gold accents. The sporty sedan also gets a number of equipment upgrades and custom Yellow Edition alloys.

2015 Toyota Mark X Yellow Label interior

Unfortunately, the eye-catching Mark X Yellow Label will never be sold anywhere but Japan and China. The closest thing to the Mark X in either North America or the EU is the Lexus IS.


Nissan Develops New Parking and Pedal Assist Technology

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

You’ve probably heard about the relatively new technology that helps vehicles park. And you may have also heard about the technology called lane assist, which helps to prevent cars that veering into adjoining lanes. To be complete accurate, lane assist senses when you are getting too close to another vehicle and guides you back to the place you were before. Well, now Nissan has developed a piece of technology that essentially combines both of these ideas.

Nissan calls this “Emergency Assist for Pedal Misapplication.” Yes, I know it isn’t very catchy moniker is it? Doesn’t even make a good acronym. But there you go. Clearly originated by engineers and not the marketing department. And that’s a good thing!

This is designed to compensate (or even take over) when a driver accidentally presses the accelerator pedal instead of the brake, or even if they press the gas too hard. The main purpose of this technology, according to Nissan, is to cut back on accidents which happen in places like parking lots and other close quarters environments.

What’s behind this Emergency Assist for Pedal Misapplication tech?

This new technology employs 4 cameras which are installed on what Nissan calls their “Around View” monitor and these are coupled with some sonar sensors. These work together to detect if another vehicle is in a parking space or if there are other large stationary objects, such as walls, close by. If so, then the system takes over and apply the brakes to avoid a collision if inappropriate throttle use is detected. It does not actually park the park in and of itself; it just slows the vehicle down to avoid an accident.

This is part of a larger program at Nissan called its Vision Zero safety plan. The idea behind this initiative is to eliminate all injuries and traffic fatalities from auto accidents. A pretty hard target, to be honest, but they join Volvo in this noble attempt, so they clearly not completely on their own on this one. Of course, a combination of technologies like this can pave the way for a fully-automated vehicle such as those Google is testing.

When Will We See This Tech Introduced?

Emergency Assist for Pedal Misapplication is scheduled to be included on the forthcoming Nissan Elgrand, a luxury van that is available only in Japan and certain other Asian markets (as well as through Integrity Exports).

It is particularly appropriate for this kind of large minivan whose sheer scale and shape can make it rather unwieldy in confined spaces.

What do you think? Is this useful tech, or another expensive but pointless feature that simply serves to keep the cost of vehicles high?


Import Car Sales in Japan Up 31% in May

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

While Japanese manufacturers saw their domestic sales drop 33.4% in May 2011, sales of non-Japanese import cars rose by 7.9%, with the remaining increase of 31%  the result of greater imports of domestic Japanese brands from their overseas production facilities.

The major winners among the top 10 import car brands are as follows:

  1. Volvo – up 69.7%
  2. Renault – up 45.4%
  3. Fiat – up 40.3%
  4. Porsche – up 29%
  5. Audi – up 21.3%

(Figures are as compared with the same period in 2010.)

The numbers of cars from non-Japanese makers, as well as imports from overseas manufacturing facilities of Japanese makers has now reached an unprecedented level. For example, in April 2011 about 1 in 4 (23.5%) of regular passenger cars sold in Tokyo were of foreign origin, and this level continued the following month with the May figure reaching 21%.

One of the major factors in this increase in overall foreign-origin car imports to Japan has been Nissan’s March manufacturing base in Thailand coming online recently. May 2011 saw Nissan import 3,274 vehicles, as compared with just 4 imported in May 2011.

Although Nissan has recently made a commitment to continue large-scale production in Japan for the Japanese market, it remains to be seen how many other makers will be following their lead in establishing offshore production facilities to service Japanese consumers. As I noted in my previous blog post, premium foreign makers are also seeing an opportunity to grab market share from brands such as Lexus, which could see these marques increasingly infiltrating Japan’s new car market.

Sources: JAIA, Tokyo Shinbun (both Japanese-language)