Toyota Kirloskar to launch its small car in December 2010

Toyota Kirloskar 2010Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) has reconfirmed its plan to launch a compact car specifically for the Indian market. The new car will roll out from the company’s Bangalore plant in 1 year and 10 months from now, TKM’s Managing Director Mr. Hiroshi Nakagawa said. The car will be launched with both petrol and diesel variants and is expected to be equipped with a 1.2 – 1.3 litre engine. It will have 60 per cent local content. Toyota is planning to double its dealership network, which presently stands at 82, over the next two years to cater to the market for the new car.

Toyota Kirloskar Motors (TKM) has announced that it will launch its small car by the end of 2010, after the construction of its second manufacturing plant at Bangalore is completed. The launch plan for this car is in tune with Toyota’s strategy for India.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Deputy Managing Director of TKM, Mr. Sandeep Singh said “We will launch our small car by the end of 2010. We expect our new production plant to be ready by that time.”

He said, “We will make only 70,000 small cars from our plant as the demand for the vehicle has fallen by 30 percent”. The company has not yet decided the pricing for the new Toyota small car.

“The new car will have 70 percent localization of components in order to make it more cost competitive”, he also stated.

The car manufacturer is likely to consider setting up an engine manufacturing plant too. With respect to that Mr. Singh quoted, “Earlier there was a plan of outsourcing engines from outside the country but after putting up the second car plant with a huge production capacity, it does not make sense to manufacture the engines elsewhere. However, the company is yet to take a decision on this.”

Since the new small car is being developed on a completely new platform, there could be more cars based on the same. “It could also be used to build a sedan and other compact cars”, said Mr. Singh.

Also, in order to enhance its presence in smaller cities, TKM plans to expand its network to 150 dealerships by the end of 2010 from the current 85.

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2010 Toyota Matrix: Redefining a revolutionary

toyota-corolla-matrix-2009-1While some may disagree with me, I have always felt that the first generation Toyota Matrix was revolutionary. It was a small vehicle that offered tons of utility in an edgy, sporty package at a time when Toyota wasn’t known for being overly daring. In fact, shortly after Toyota launched the Matrix, I became the service manager of a Toyota store and spent 3 months driving one. Not long after, my step father bought his own dark blue XR model. I have recommended the Matrix to more consumers than I can count. When the 2nd Gen version launched last Spring, I wondered if they could retain all of that goodness that I fell in love with. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to get behind the wheel of one until this past week.

Visually, designers have kept the original’s dna intact. While the curves have softened somewhat, there is no mistaking the current body for anything other than the Matrix except for possibly it’s cousin from Pontiac, the Vibe. Sliding behind the wheel, many similarities from the original car remain. From the functional plastic cargo area with plenty of tie downs to the funky dash, the heritage is definitely evident. They’ve even kept the oh so deep looking nautical Blue Metallic paint that seems to bump the visual up by a few thousand dollars.

Our tester was a base model with the convenience package which ads air conditioning, power windows & locks, keyless entry, tire pressure monitor system, rear bumper protector and colour matched door handles. I was happy to see that the basic radio includes an Aux input jack for the ever present MP3 player. It amazes me that some manufacturers still don’t include this on their entry to mid level models. Let’s face it folks, the entry level buyer is more likely to be carrying an iPod than their parents are. The fabric on the seats seems to be a bit more utilitarian than I recall from the last model, though I’m sure the XR & XRS models are more swanky. Regardless, the seats are comfortable and the fabric looks like it would be almost as easy to clean as the durable cargo area.

For those who might be surprised that air conditioning is optional, perhaps I should explain a unique Canadian car shopper. The Quebecor. For some reason, unbeknown to us Ontarians, most automakers sell an absolute ton of cars sans air in Quebec. They even prefer wind up windows! I know, I don’t get it either.

Economy rather than performance is the order of the day and the 1.8l, 132 horsepower 4 cylinder in our tester did just fine in the economy department. During the combined city and highway Toronto commute, we managed to get 8l/100 km which might be the closest I’ve ever come to achieving the Government combined test rating of 7.2 in any vehicle I’ve tested. The 4 speed automatic was geared just about right for the combined commute so the engine was never spinning too fast. If a bit more go is your thing, then the 158 hp XR or XRS would be worth a look but this engine actually suited me just fine.

Along with eco friendliness, patriotism has taken a strong step to the forefront in many consumers buying decision of late and the Matrix is a winner here too. The Matrix is built exclusively at Toyota’s plant in Cambridge, Ontario so owners can feel good that they have supported their neighbours.

Overall, the 2010 Matrix performed perfectly for family life here in The Garage. Decent fuel economy, nice on road manners and utility beyond any of the competition still make for a solid choice for a family. I missed some of the edginess of the first generation, but the masses often prefer a slightly softer attitude and I think the masses will find the updated Matrix just right for their driveway.

2010 Toyota Prius — ‘more of the same’ is a surprisingly dramatic improvement

2010_toyota_priusFor all the love it’s gotten from hundreds of thousands of customers, there are many people who have never figured out the appeal of the Toyota Prius. The second generation of this popular gas-electric hybrid, sold from the 2004 through the 2009 model years, was a compact economy car priced alongside bigger or more luxurious vehicles well over $20,000. Many wrote off that car as overpriced and its followers as blindly addicted to hype.

In the conventional sense, the 2010 redesign of the Prius is far from radical. The outgoing car’s familiar shape is retained, and most improvements are incremental. It looks as though the new Prius is the same as before but just a little better.

But improvements to the new Prius’s ride quality, noise suppression, and interior space have boosted it well above the feel of its predecessor, which not only felt like an economy car but was often criticized for not feeling like an especially good economy car. It now has the refinement and practicality to truly rival a midsize sedan rather than just a compact one, making it at $23,000 as tested a substitute for a comparable $19,000 midsize sedan rather than just a $15,000 compact one. And at the same time, gas mileage has further increased – the EPA rates it at 51 miles per gallon in the city and 48 on the highway – further helping offset that extra cost.

Some criticisms of the car will remain. It’s still less than nimble for its size, and its steering is very light and numb and not overly quick to respond. The regenerative braking system, which uses the brakes to help recharge its electric motor, gives the pedal a grabby feel. The interior layout remains unusual, with a near-center digital speedometer and an assortment of fuel-related displays. And if you drive it just like any other car, you won’t likely get phenomenal gas mileage.

But even the outgoing Prius responded especially well to drivers who adapted to it, driving gently to accelerate on battery power without using gasoline or using the “pulse-and-glide” method of giving a punch of acceleration and then letting the car cruise its way back down. Any car, of course, would see decreased fuel usage under this sort of gentle behavior, but with the benefit of the gas-free electric ability, the Prius magnified these mileage gains. Adding to this, the 2010 Prius lets drivers select a mode to drive – “ECO” to blunt acceleration response to aid gas mileage and “Power” for the opposite, or “EV” (electric vehicle) to maximize use of the battery rather than the gas engine.

The Prius also is better than most cars about reminding drivers of their fuel usage. The Ford Fusion Hybrid has diagrams of leaves appear and disappear next to the speedometer depending on the driver’s behavior – the more gently you drive, the thicker your gauge-vine – but the Prius has a more scientific-looking set of figures and energy-flow diagrams stretching across the upper dash. If you’re not driving the Prius the way it’s meant to be driven, you’ll see the result immediately. The hybrid operation is seamless – in sharp contrast to the competing Honda Insight – whether you’re pushing the car or babying it.

Another unconventional design in the Prius’s interior is its automatic shifter, which pops back into center after a gear is selected rather than staying in “D” or “P.” You must rely on the dash indicator to be sure you’re in the right place, though it will chime when you select reverse. Some may find this needlessly complex, but the reduction in mechanical components on the gear selector at least opens up a large storage compartment underneath.

But other than a somewhat unusual grain to the interior’s plastics, the Prius’s interior is fairly conventional. The seats are comfortable and covered in a plush cloth that also adorns parts of the interior door panels. (Pricier Prius models come with leather.) New for 2010, drivers have a telescoping steering column that helps fine-tune the driving position, but the car’s aerodynamics-induced shape cuts rear visibility both out the small ¾ rear windows and out a two-level split rear windshield. There’s now more rear-seat headroom, but while more adults will now fit comfortably, some would still likely prefer the roof a bit higher. Toyota at least did not achieve more head space by mounting the seat too low, and a flat floor will help accommodate a fifth passenger. There isn’t stretch-out space, but the seats are well-designed to maximize what is there and keep things comfortable. Some might prefer larger front seat cushions, however; they’re neither especially wide nor especially long.

The Prius is rare among strong-selling cars for coming only as a hatchback, a body style popular in most of the world but frequently (and needlessly) frowned upon the United States. This hatchback offers the Prius more cargo space and versatility than a sedan, but the roof slopes down toward the rear to cut down on the space advantage compared to a sedan’s trunk behind the rear seats. It’s only when they’re folded flat that the Prius and like-styled hatchbacks will shine, for their ability to handle bulkier cargo.
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However, despite its midsize-level interior space and price, the Prius does remain a compact car that’s shorter and narrower even than a Toyota Corolla, useful in the tight quarters of city driving. Yet it feels more like a midsize Camry than a Corolla, with a smoother and quieter ride and a bigger, more solid feel, and tracking nicely at speed. But despite a tight turning radius – 17.1 feet – it also feels bigger than a compact car in corners. There does not seem to be anything inherent to the design of a hybrid in a lack of steering responsiveness and feel, but the Prius has both. Some drivers won’t mind, but even some who don’t indentify themselves as driving enthusiasts might still wish for something sharper from a small car. Many will find the Prius fun to drive in the sense of a fuel economy game, but no one will find it an enjoyable companion on a tight twisty road or even darting around city traffic.

But again, unlike other compact cars, the Prius now offers big-car comfort and refinement cruising at speed, and acceleration that’s more in line with 4-cylinder family sedans than compact ones. With the Toyota Camry, itself no sporting machine, as the country’s best selling car, that seems to be a successful route to take.

And the Prius has little serious competition at its mileage game.

There’s the new 2010 Honda Insight, which offers similar styling but much lower gas mileage, a cramped rear seat, and a stiff and noisy ride. It boasts better handling at a lower price to compensate for this, but these advantages are surprisingly slight. Honda also sells a hybrid version of its Civic sedan, which is a more refined but less eye-catching than the Insight, but doesn’t approach the Prius’s mileage either.

There’s the Volkswagen Jetta TDI, a diesel compact sedan or hatchback that’s also refined and feels luxurious for the price. It’s no sports car, but it’s also more fun to drive than other high-mileage vehicles, both from its sharper handling and available manual transmission. But with EPA ratings topping out at 30 mpg city / 41 highway, it’s a league below the hybrids.

There are also hybrids of several true midsize sedans: the Ford Fusion / Mercury Milan, the Nissan Altima, and the Toyota Camry. While bigger than the Prius, they’re also pricier and thirstier.

But when you shop the Prius, there are other competitors you must consider: standard fuel-efficient gas-powered cars. You get diminished fuel savings among the most efficient cars; getting 50 miles per gallon in a Prius compared to 30 in a Corolla shaves 40 percent off your gas bill, but your gas bill in a Corolla is already low.

The Prius is now roomier and more refined than a Corolla, but if you’re just looking for inexpensive transportation, it or its solid competitors would be a worthy choice for as much as $10,000 less than a comparable Prius. That buys a lot of gas.

For its new improvements, the Prius not only improves life for the hybrid lover, but gives more mainstream buyers a better reason to look twice. Don’t let the similar look fool you, the new Prius is a different car and one that makes sense for a broader segment of the market.

2010 Toyota Land Cruiser Prado

2010-toyota-land-cruiser-prado-21The current Toyota Land Cruiser Prado has been around for the better part of this decade now. Even though it still looks good, it is estimated that a new model should debut for the 2010 model year.

This computer-generated rendering of a possible 2010 Prado was done by a Japanese magazine. It is assumed that design cues should match the facelift received by the 2009 Innova, as well as body contours that are similar to the 2008 Land Cruiser.

The current Prado 4WD was once a great budget buy. With options, nowadays it costs as much as Dhs 170,000, which is insanity for a non-luxury-badged vehicle that hasn’t changed much since 2002. We can only imagine what the new one will go for, assuming Toyota beats the recession and launches a new version.

For the second time this month, the facelifted 2010MY versions of the Land Cruiser V8’s more compact 3-door and 5-door siblings which are known in many markets as the Land Cruiser Prado (not sold in the States) have been photographed undisguised. These latest pictures, which made it into an Arabic site, confirm that the 2010 Land Cruiser Prado gets a redesigned front fascia inspired by Toyota’s latest European models like the Avensis along with more heavily profiled wheel arches and new tail lamps.

Not much else in known about the 2010 Land Cruiser but we suspect that Toyota may also have refreshed the luxury off-roader’s interior. In most markets, the current generation Land Cruiser Prado is available with a choice of two powertrains, a 4.0-liter V6 petrol engine producing 249 horsepower and a 3.0-liter four-banger turbo diesel that cranks out 173 horsepower.

Toyota Echo RS hatchback 2010

Toyota Echo

Toyota Echo

You need plans and a car like the 2010 Toyota Echo RS hatchback, if you’re trying to get somewhere in life. The new and restyled can help. Echo comes available with either two or four doors, because a choice is always good. It’s got a truly energetic 16-valve VVT-i engine, and a spacious cabin, wrapped in some of the freshest sheet metal around. Perhaps most importantly, the Echo features a sticker price that can really help you pursue your dreams. Don’t take our word for it, though – peek at the Echo picture above, read this 2010 Toyota Echo RS hatchback review and get one for yourself!

A tall roof and raised rear deck set the Echo apart, but they also maximize cabin and trunk space. Redesigned headlamps and tail lamps, a chrome grille and available P185/60R15 tires on 15-inch steel wheels with full wheel covers are new, as is the available Appearance Package. On the inside, with seating for five and available 60/40 split fold-down rear seat, there’s nothing to cramp your style. The available Deluxe 3-in-1 AM/FM ETR/Cassette/CD audio system will keep you company, while the center-mounted instrument panel, dual glove compartments and under-seat storage tray will keep you interested. Then, of course, there are the Echo accessories, all of which give your Echo a personal touch.

Once you buy a 2010 Toyota Echo, you’ll want to go out with it all the time. The Echo comes standard with a 16-valve, Variable Valve Timing with intelligence engine that’s remarkably fuel-efficient, achieving 35 miles-per-gallon in the city and 43 miles per gallon on the highway. The Echo also features independent MacPherson strut front suspension, an aluminum alloy cylinder block and engine head, variable muffler valve, and the Toyota Direct Ignition system that eliminates the distributor, rotor and spark plug wires, and enhances reliability. The car also comes available with a host of Echo accessories to enhance performance, such as alloy wheels and more. Review the Echo, review a winner.

A number of Echo RS hatchback reviews also tout the car’s safety features. Some of these features include elevated seating that helps you see the road ahead, and the available Antilock Brake System that can help you deal with unpleasant surprises. The Echo also features front and rear energy-absorbing crumple zones, side-impact door beams, driver and front passenger air bags, and available driver and front passenger seat-mounted side-impact air bags. Finally, the car offers front seatbelt pretensioners with force limiters, an energy-absorbing steering column, and hood hold-down hooks. Not too shabby for such a little car.

2010 Toyota Tacoma Comes with ETCS-i

Toyota Tacoma

Toyota Tacoma

The 2010 Toyota Tacoma is perfect for those who seek a compact pick up loaded with the latest technological features. The Tacoma exterior remains unchanged for 2010, but loads of new entertainment and comfort features make their presence felt inside the cabin.

Like its predecessors, the 2010 Tacoma comes in three cab styles – Regular, Double and Extended Access Cab. Each of these choices offers an array of configurations.

Toyota has implemented a new Electronic Throttle Control System with intelligence (ETCS-i) in the 2010 Tacoma, further optimizing fuel consumption. Gear up Toyota fans – the 2010 Tacoma’s 4.0L 236Hp V6 mated with a 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmission is expected to deliver even better performance on and off the road.

2010 Prius proves its fuel economy credentials

toyota_prius

toyota_prius

With the 2010 Prius, Toyota takes another step forward in eco-friendly motoring. The car is equipped with Toyota’s most advanced hybrid automobile technology – the Hybrid Synergy Drive (HSD). With HSD, Toyota excels in producing powerful full-hybrid vehicles, improving upon the single or dual mode hybrid cars offered by most competitors.

The core of HSD is a drive-by-wire system that eliminates the conventional mechanical and hydraulic control systems – it doesn’t need a direct connection between the engine and its controls. Instead,HSD uses electro-mechanical actuators that send electrical signals generated from different components of the car to a computerized power control system.

The new 2010 Prius is capable of driving on either gasoline or electric power alone, as well as on a combined power supply. A 1.8L WT-i petrol engine, an electric motor, a high-voltage battery, a power control unit, and a power split mechanism ensure smooth acceleration and an emission free ride. The 2010 model also increases system power output by a hefty 22%.

The 2010 Prius can reach 30mph in electric mode, and boasts an incredible 72.4mpg is attainable from the combined drivetrain. Exceeding the Euro 5 emission standard, the 2010 Toyota Prius is the most efficient green car of the future.