Category Archives: Toyota Technology

Toyota Implements New Strategy for Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles

Toyota has made a name for itself among green car enthusiasts and environmentalists thanks to the brand’s pioneering efforts with the introduction of the Prius hybrid. Nowadays, hybrids as well as electric vehicles are becoming more commonplace, and it seems like almost every major auto manufacturer has a green car or two in its lineup. However, Toyota has chosen to look to the further again — this time, in the realm of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. However, early efforts to incorporate hydrogen fuel cells as an alternative source of fuel passed under the radar, so Toyota has gone back to the drawing board, choosing to introduce hydrogen fuel in different areas in order to slowly build demand.

 

The problem with hydrogen fuel cell vehicles parallels the initial problem with electric vehicles. Electric charging ports were rare because EVs themselves were rare, but nobody wanted to buy EVs because of their short range and shortage of charging ports. Hydrogen fueling stations are similarly scarce due to the lack of demand for vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel.

 

Consequently, Toyota is turning its attention (temporarily) away from the automobile market and targeting a more industrial demographic. The next vehicle from the company to be powered by hydrogen fuel cells will be none other than a forklift. These forklifts will be engineered to harness wind power to generate hydrogen to power them through small tasks like shuttling vegetables, beer, and other lightweight goods in the Tokyo Bay marketplace.

 

As demand for the hydrogen-powered forklifts grows, Toyota will slowly release more mainstream hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, with the plan being to eventually launch more passenger vehicles such as the Toyota Mirai. Additionally, Toyota is the world’s largest producer on forklifts, which means these forklifts may catch on sooner than one might think.

New Toyota Telematics System to use SmartDeviceLink

The next-generation Toyota telematics system will implement SmartDeviceLink (SDL). SDL is a platform for smartphone apps and car connectivity that makes it easier for customers to use to apps in their car whether through voice recognition or through the touchscreen panel.

At the 2016 CES conference in Las Vegas, Toyota demonstrated how SDL integration would work in a future telematics system.

Toyota and Ford have already committed to using this platform in the future and hope it becomes an industry-wide standard. If this happens, app developers will be able to quickly make apps that would compatible across the industry, meaning more apps in less time.

Shigeki Terashi, Executive Vice President of Toyota Motor Corporation, said, in a statement, “Developing a safer and more secure in-car smartphone connectivity service which better matches individual vehicle features is exactly the value and advantage an automaker can offer customers. We expect that many companies share our view and will participate in the industry SDL collaboration.”

Toyota has been testing the SDL platform since 2011 and found it to be the best option for a new telematics system. Toyota hasn’t said when SDL will first be incorporated into a production vehicle.

Continuously Variable Transmissions: What Are They and How Do They Work?

If you’ve been shopping for a new car recently, you’ve probably noticed the surge in continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) on the market. This innovative transmission technology is capable of perfect gear ratios and upping fuel economy.

According to Autoguide, a CVT doesn’t use gears, in the traditional sense. Instead, this transmission works by using a pair of variable-diameter pulleys (which look like cones) and a special high strength belt. Instead of shifting in and out of gears through a complex clutch and hydraulic system like a normal transmission, a CVT uses a system of cone-like pulleys (with one end thicker than the other) to eliminate unnecessary steps.

Jim Paris, director for Continental in the NAFTA region, explains: “By varying their dimensions the belt itself rides higher or lower on the pulleys and changes the ratio between the drive and the driven pulley.”

What’s different? Drivers will notice that CVTs don’t shift like normal cars; instead, you’re offered one smooth ride. Although this takes some getting used to, you’re always in the right “gear” when you’re using a CVT. This boosts fuel economy and optimizes power transfer. Though this technology was actually found in small engines, like some mowers, the belts were not strong enough for cars. Thanks to recent breakthroughs, the CVT is quickly becoming the ideal transmission option.

2016 Toyota Prius c Is Perfect for the Modern Driver

Today, cars are so much better than they used to be. They can simultaneously be more powerful and more efficient than their predecessors. Cars are also much safer and much more tech-friendly. One of the best new cars that is perfect for the modern driver is the 2016 Toyota Prius c.

This compact hybrid packs a punch when it comes to fuel efficiency, safety, design, and technology. For starters, it boasts the highest fuel efficiency in its segment with an EPA-estimated 53 mpg in the city.

If you want your Prius c to have a personality all its own, choose the new Persona Series Special Edition. This model will be limited to 1,500 units. It will come exclusively in black with the choice of two color accents that run along the grille, under the side windows, and cover the side mirrors. Choose between Electric Lime and Cherry Pearl.

No matter which trim you choose, the Prius c is built on a frame comprised of lightweight, high-strength steel. This simultaneously makes the Prius c more efficient and safer. The Prius c is also equipped with nine standard airbags and the Star Safety System, which includes Vehicle Stability Control, traction control, anti-lock brakes, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Brake Assist, and Smart Stop.

The 2016 Toyota Prius c will be coming to Bill Walsh Toyota soon. Let us know you’re interested and we’ll let you know when they arrive.

Early Indications of a Sweeping Land Cruiser Update Starting to Surface

It would appear that the 2017 model year Toyota Land Cruiser is going to be getting a facelift. The rugged and reliable Land Cruiser will have some considerable changes based on a brochure circulated by Toyota with an image making its way around the Internet. The front end will receive all-new styling to include horizontal chrome accents, updated HID headlights with LED running lights, and smaller wide-set fog lights. The Land Cruiser update will encompass new unique alloy-wheels, different paint choices, shiny door handles, and new LED taillights.

The new updated interior is expected to anchor around an all-new touchscreen display infotainment center surrounded by a more sophisticated instrument cluster and a configurable TFT screen. Select markets should see a 2.8-liter diesel variant available, although details about that drivetrain coming to the US market have not come to light.

Although this update is still in the planning-phases, the current Land Cruiser and other dominant Toyota models are ready and waiting for you at Bill Walsh Toyota.

2016 Toyota Prius Engine Garners 40% Thermal Efficiency

Could the Prius be any more efficient? Well, according to Toyota, it can!

Recently announced at the Annual Spring Congress for Japan’s Society of Automotive Engineers, the 2016 Toyota Prius engine will boast 40% thermal efficiency, an increase of 1.5% over its previous model, making it the most efficient Prius to date. Early estimates speculate that the new Prius will be able to offer 60 mpg.

“The efficiency will be realized by improving the EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) limit from 21 percent (current model) to 28 percent,” reports Nikkei Technology Online. “The thermal efficiency of 40 percent would be the world’s highest for a mass-produced gasoline engine.”

So just how was Toyota able to improve its thermal efficiency? According to the Japanese automaker, the increased thermal efficiency came from adjusting the intake port, recirculating more exhaust gases, and remodeling the shape of the piston.

The 2016 Toyota Prius is expected to be unveiled to the public this fall and will hit showrooms early next year. Until then, be sure to come visit our lineup of fuel-efficient vehicles at Bill Walsh Toyota today!

2016 Scion FR-S Improved All-Around

The new 2016 Scion FR-S maintains its spunky, sporty characteristics and also features quite a few improvements for the new model year! In addition to exterior and interior tweaks, the FR-S also sports a new starting price.

The interior of the FR-S will come with a backup camera and a new audio system that features a 7-inch touch screen display. It will also sport bright silver accents throughout the new steering wheel and center console. The new FR-S will also feature voice recognition technology.

New pricing for the FR-S is as follows: the six speed manual FR-S will start at $23,305 and the automatic transmission which is equipped with paddle shifters starts at $26,405.

Last, the 2016 FR-S will be available in two new exterior colors as well. You’ll have the choice between a dazzling red named Ablaze and an electric blue named Oceanic.

If you want more information about the upcoming 2016 Scion FR-S, come visit us at Bill Walsh Toyota.

Toyota iRoad Prototype Takes on California

Toyota is stepping outside of its box, bringing its latest contraption—a  three-wheeled, one-person motor vehicle—to California. Born in Japan, the Toyota iRoad is tiny, electric, and most importantly, it’s fun. Like, really fun. Take one look at this driver taking the iRoad for a test spin, and you’ll want in on the action, too.

Toyota is putting the iRoad to the test, asking drivers in Japan, France, and now San Francisco to take the little electric car for a spin.  In cities where traffic is brutal, gas prices are high, and commuters just want to get to their destination already, the simple, efficient, and ridiculously-cool iRoad could be just the thing drivers are looking for.

The iRoad is powered by a lithium cell battery, which offers a driving range of 30 miles, goes a top speed of about 37 mph, and can be fully recharged in three hours. Just over three feet wide, the iRoad can comfortably fit the driver, and claims to have room for a small to medium-sized person behind the driver’s seat. In reality, it looks like there might be just enough room for your bag, but that’s about it.

So far, the iRoad has been incredibly well-received. Toyota business development manager Jason Schulz points out that “Every single person, their first reaction is, ‘This is fun!’ You can actually watch people start to grin.” While we admit that “fun” is a long way from “practical,” here at Bill Walsh Toyota, we can’t help but love the idea of these little cars getting us to and from work.

Toyota Distracted Driving Simulator Shows Dangers of Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is one of the main causes of accidents, especially for new, teenage drivers. Though many parents take preventative measures to keep their children safe, teenagers are often distracted while driving, whether it is by a cell phone, a passenger, or the radio. To help teenagers see the dangers of distracted driving, Toyota has created the Toyota Distracted Driving Simulator, a brand new technology that uses Oculus Rift to make these dangers a reality for teens.

“Oculus Rift provides a virtual reality driving experience that mirrors real life behind the wheel, giving us a powerful, one-of-a-kind way to show parents and teens how everyday distractions can affect their ability to drive safely,” said Marjorie Schussel, Corporate Marketing Director for Toyota. “This is the most innovative example of how we’re helping teens and parents become safer drivers together through our ongoing Toyota TeenDrive365 initiative.”

The simulator puts drivers in the virtual reality of driving down a busy city street. During the simulation, each participant is challenged to drive safely with the car’s steering wheel and pedals, while navigating a series of common distractions, such as traffic noises, the radio, text messages, and virtual passengers.

Toyota will have the simulator free of charge at auto shows across the country throughout the year. For a safe, fuel-efficient vehicle for your teen driver, stop in to Bill Walsh Toyota!