TEDsters Have Fun on the Toyota i-Road

Toyota recently stormed a TED conference to see what the people prone to think about such things might think about the Toyota i-Road. The response was favorable, to say the least.

The i-Road is a personal mobility vehicle—a vehicle that seeks to a part of the transportation solution rather than being part of the transportation problem. That problem includes issues like emission pollution, hyper-congestion, overcrowding, noise pollution, among many others.

How does the i-Road solve these things? First of all, it does so by being small. You could describe it as Phys.org did, as “a cross between a zippy scooter and an eco-friendly electric car.” It’s all-electric, rides on three wheels (two up front, one in the rear). A three-hour charge will get you 30 miles of range.

The most brilliant aspect of the i-Road is just how fun it is to drive. That’s important with green vehicles because it makes them that much more appealing. Jason Schulz of Toyota Motor Sales USA, who was on-hand for the tests at TED, said, “It is just a total blast to drive. We have seen so many ‘Tedsters’ come out of the car smiling and happy.”

Toyota “50 for 50” Supports Students at Alabama HBCUs

Fifty years ago this month, the historic freedom march from Selma to Montgomery took place in order to take a stand for the civil rights of African Americans. In honor of that event, Toyota introduced “50 for 50,” donating $50,000 to four historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in Alabama.

Each of the colleges—Alabama State University, Alabama A&M University, Selma University, and Tuskegee University—played an important role in fighting for civil rights. It was students from these schools who participated in the 54-mile march.

A check donation ceremony was held during a luncheon on Alabama State University’s campus where representatives from each college attended.

“Toyota has a long-standing commitment to the pursuit of education and partnering with historically black colleges and universities,” said Adrienne Trimble, Toyota North America’s general manager of Diversity & Inclusion. “On this historic occasion, we wanted to recognize the four Alabama schools that played an integral part in the march five decades ago. Through this donation, we strive to support each school’s commitment to developing the next generation of leaders and working to make the world a better place.”

We at Bill Walsh Toyota are excited to see the results of Toyota’s support of these universities as the students continue to make a difference in today’s world as did the students who came before them 50 years ago.

First Toyota Female Executive Marks a Shift Towards Diversity

Toyota recently shifted gears as a company in an effort to restructure and vary its leadership positions. The management team will become more diversified this year with the promotion of Julie Hamp to be the first Toyota female executive, Christopher Reynolds as the first African-American exec, and European Didier Leroy to the be the first foreigner to serve as EVP. Toyota as a company seeks to gain strength from the internal moves.

Toyota states, “by appointing talented people from affiliates outside Japan to executive positions, Toyota aims to foster innovation by enabling people from many different backgrounds to contribute and provide input.”

Toyota has crossed the Rubicon and is no longer just a Japanese carmaker, but a global car manufacturer with far-ranging leadership needs and requirements. Steering away from all-Japanese male decision-makers towards a more diversified leadership cadre will allow Toyota to find that “next-gear” and race into the future with refreshed vigor.

We at Bill Walsh Toyota are proud to be a part of such a great organization, and look forward to an even brighter future.

Toyota Mirai: Previewing the Latest in Toyota Fuel-Cell Technology

Toyota is opening its doors to the public, showcasing the production of the new Mirai in a series of videos. People now have an opportunity to see how Toyota’s first production fuel-cell vehicle is manufactured, an incredibly complex and interesting process.

The videos show a surprisingly small staff in Toyota City, Japan putting together the new Mirai, essentially by hand. This is to ensure that there are no flaws on the hydrogen powered sedan, said Toyota. Although it means that only about three cars per day are made, this is enough to keep up with the limited release.

“For us, [the Mirai] marks a new start,” said Toyota’s president, Akio Toyoda. “This is not to reflect on the past, but rather to celebrate Toyota’s new start, where we take a fresh step towards the future.”

The Mirai represents the culmination of Toyota fuel-cell technology. Right now, only select parts of the world have the infrastructure for hydrogen cars (a.k.a. hydrogen filling stations) such as certain regions of California. As soon as more places embrace this new eco-friendly technology, Toyota can hit the ground running with the revolutionary Mirai.

Toyota Camry, Highlander, and Sienna Named Best Family Cars of 2015

best family cars of 2015

Kelley Blue Book’s KBB.com recruited families and brought its usual host of expert editors to determine this year’s list of the 15 Best Family Cars of 2015. Among the chosen winners were the Camry midsize sedan, the Highlander midsize crossover, and the Sienna minivan.

Selecting the winners is no small task. KBB.com gathered “23 of the latest and greatest different vehicles from a variety of manufacturers” and put them all to real-world tests. Evaluations were based on comfort, driving feel, safety, child seats, cargo space, rear-seat entertainment, and other extra features like advanced electronics and ease-of-access.

The new Camry was a clear contender from the beginning thanks to its total redesign for the 2015 model year. It’s the most attractive Camry to date (at least we think so at Bill Walsh Toyota) and quite roomy and comfortable to boot, which should help it remain the best-selling car in the US, as it has been for the past 12 years.

The Highlander and Sienna were just as convincing. The former is just the right size and full of storage places, and the latter’s entertainment and Drive Easy Speak system make it really easy to keep the kids under control.

Two New Special Edition Toyotas Debut in Chicago

Two new special edition Toyotas based on the brand’s best-selling sedans were introduced the 2015 Chicago Auto Show: the 2016 Camry Special Edition and the 2016 Corolla Special Edition.

For the Camry, getting that special edition badge means getting 18-inch alloy wheels with gloss black-painted accents, smoked tail lamps, high-contrast blue stitching throughout the interior, premium audio and navigation systems, and push-button start. It’ll come in Blizzard Pearl and Blue Streak Metallic colors.

Meanwhile, the special edition Toyota Corolla receives new 17-inch alloy wheels with gloss black finish, a black interior with red contrast stitching, enhanced audio and navigation systems, a power moonroof, and push-button start. Colors will include Absolutely Red, Black Sand Pearl, and Super White.

Only 12,000 special-edition Camrys and 8,000 Corollas will be produced. The former will be available between August 2015 and January 2016 and the latter between August 2015 and December 2015 at Bill Walsh Toyota. We’ll see you then!

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 USA Foundation

Toyota’s “Let’s Go Places” doesn’t just apply to the automaker’s vehicles. Toyota also drives education forward through the Toyota USA Foundation. The Foundation is “committed to enhancing the quality of education by supporting innovative programs…dedicated to improving the teaching and learning of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics,” according to the foundation’s mission statement. Organizations can apply for a grant if they’re charitable, open to the public, and aid in learning.

Founded in 1987, the Toyota USA Foundation has been around a little less than three decades. In that time, it’s awarded nonprofit organizations around the United States over $52 million. In 2012, Superstorm Sandy created a wide need for food in the hardest hit areas of New York City. Partnering with a food bank, Meals Per Hour was born. The packaging process was streamlined, meaning more meals could fit on a single truck and more families were fed. The project became a documentary and for every view, a meal was donated.

In the past, Toyota USA Foundation has funded the rebuilding of New Orleans, trained American Red Cross volunteers, increased Herman Miller cabinet production, and donated 100 cars to 100 nonprofit organizations. All nonprofits recognized as charitable are eligible for a grant. Involved in a nonprofit? What do you have to lose? Apply!

Toyota One Bold Choice Campaign Continues at Super Bowl

Toyota continued its One Bold Choice campaign at the Super Bowl, where it aired two commercials that both celebrated living a life full of bold choices and developing bold lifestyle habits. One of the commercials continued to highlight the efforts of bold, inspiring dads, but another one took the campaign in a new direction. This new commercial features Paralympic medalist Amy Purdy doing all kinds of strenuous activities, from running to ballroom dancing.

The commercial also features Muhammad Ali, narrating his famous “How Great I Am” speech. The message of the commercial: “One Bold Choice Leads to Another.” “We’re very proud of the message our commercial sends about not only making bold choices, but living a bold life, and Amy Purdy represents that in everything she does. Amy inspires us, and to have her make her Super Bowl commercial debut with Toyota is something we’re thrilled about,” said Jack Hollis, group vice president of marketing, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

These Toyota ads are special because they go far beyond a simple decision to buy a car. They reach deep inside us, to inspire us and remind us of how much we can accomplish if we choose to make bold choices. Here at Bill Walsh Toyota, we’re simply excited to be part of a brand so committed to these values. Come see us today!

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!

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