Like a ditzy party animal or an all-out slacker, Honda was late for work. The Japanese automaker went into the office and decided to wage war against the Toyota Prius, only to discover that Toyota has moved on from the model they were aiming for.
The weapon that Honda has chosen in the green wars is the new 2010 Honda Insight, a sloped-nosed four-door hybrid that looks about the same as the Prius, just cheaper. Honda’s aim with this new car was to take away Toyota’s customers by offering 41 miles per gallon without the premium price tag.
We had a chance to drive the new Insight for a weekend and our test car was around $20,000, well below the Honda Civic Hybrid and the last generation Prius.
Seems too good be true? Honda is offering the same sort of thing that you get in the Toyota, but at a price that is far more affordable for the masses. Amazing.
Sadly, it’s not as good as you might think. Toyota has moved on from the Prius that Honda’s fighting and created an all-new version that’s massively better. The new model is capable of 50 miles per gallon, a number that will let Toyota keep it’s standing as the most fuel-efficient car in the United States. At least for now.
Things don’t necessarily come out as planned and Toyota is one carmaker that definitely knows that to be true. And, no, we are not talking about its recall woes, although those are good lessons for the Japanese company. What we are discussing is the U.S. production of Toyota’s gasoline-electric vehicle, the Prius . Toyota’s original plans were set to have the hybrid built at its Mississippi facility, but when a plant in California formerly co-owned by GM shut its doors, Toyota turned its attention to the Corolla and left the Prius overseas.
Now, according to Reuters, the Toyota Prius may see its production in the Land of the Free by 2016. Executive Vice President Atsushi Niimi says that is when the next remodeling of the Prius is expected and that is when Toyota would feel comfortable enough in the U.S. economy to move it over.
"If you look at unemployment, housing, and other economic indicators there’s not much good news. I think it will take time for the market to recover," Niimi said. He added that he doesn’t agree with reports stating that the U.S. market could recover to above 12 million units next year or 14-15 million in 2012.
As you might know by now, Toyota will bring a "compact people-mover" version of the hybrid Prius . And why not? The Prius has been a tremendous success forToyota and adding space for the kiddies cannot possibly be a bad idea. The car, set to be called the Alpha, is in its final stages of development and will be unveiled in March 2011. We can safely assume it will make its first appearance at the Geneva Motor Show . This will be the first vehicle in the Prius line to use lithium-ion batteries.
Based on the current Prius sedan platform, the future Alpha will grow in dimensions in order to accommodate an extra row of seats in the back: 300 mm in length and 20 mm in wheelbase.
The new Alpha will inherit the Prius’ 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle petrol engine and THSII hybrid system, that together will develop a total of 135 HP. Fuel economy will likely be slightly less than the current Prius sedan’s 50 mpg combined, due to the Alpha’s extra size and weight.
Dogs wearing chauffeur get-ups and driving cars can only be found in movies, right? Apparently, as somebody is claiming, they can be found in Minneapolis too - without the get-up of course.
We were able to find this from a forum member at Star City Racing who posted his friend’s Facebook status message, which reads:
"I came out of getting coffee to see that a red (Toyota) Prius t-boned my car. Dog in front seat. Lady comes out 2 min later and claims it happened while she was gone. Says someone got into her car and did it. Then she says her dog may have done it. This is what I’m dealing with right now. Awesome."
For a split-second there, we thought Snoopy was behind it. Then common sense took over and we realized just how unfathomable this scenario is. Either someone was trying to put the blame on a canine or there’s more to this accident than meets the eye. Either way, we’re not particularly thrilled for the owner of that Volkswagen Jetta who now has to explain to his insurance company that the offending party in this accident is, of all things, a dog.
To what lengths will you go to to prove that your Toyota Prius is not a push-over on the road. Apparently, for Timothy Hird of Winder, Georgia, far enough to get him thrown in jail.
The Toyota Prius owner became so incensed at the lack of ’road cred’ his Toyota Prius was getting that, in a fit of rage, he attempted to race a Honda Civic just to show that his Prius could hang with the non-hybrid types. The incident occurred at a Publix supermarket near Braselton, Georgia when the driver of the Civic pulled out in front of Hird, inciting him to the point that he ran to his Prius, sped up, and caught the Civic before shouting "Watch this!" at the passenger of the Civic and began blocking their car. In an attempt to get past the raging Hird, the driver of the Civic almost ran into a police car.
As a result of the incident, both drivers were booked for reckless driving with Hird suffering the brunt of the punishment - he got thrown in jail - for his highly aggressive, and obviously dangerous attempt in proving that his beloved hybrid Prius was no slouch on the road.
Way to go, Mr. Hird. You did prove your point, although we didn’t see the whole point of it in the first place. Hey, more power to you and your stay behind bars.
The Toyota Prius isn’t exactly a car that you’d mistake to be all-terrain-ready, but apparently for some people – celebrities, even – all-terrain tires and Toyota’s hybrid car go together like peanut butter and jelly.
A few weeks after purchasing a Toyota Prius, the lovely Eliza Dushku wasn’t necessarily impressed with the standard tires they came in, so she decided to sell those tires on eBay for charity and replace them with all-terrain tires.
We shudder to think what a Toyota Prius will look like when it’s on an off-road excursion, but Eliza Dushku seems to think that it’s a good idea. And because she’s sizzling hot, we’re going to give her the benefit of the doubt.
We barely had time to do some follow-up checks regarding the runaway Toyota Prius in San Diego a couple of days when reports began circulating that another Prius – this time from the other side of the country in New York – figured in another unintended acceleration, only this time, the 56-year old driver didn’t have the assistance of the California Highway Patrol so she ended up crashing into a stone wall.
Fortunately, the incident happened just outside her home when after pulling out of her driveway, the car began to accelerate across the street straight into the awaiting wall. According to reports, the lady was lucky enough to escape the crash without any major injuries, but we all know that it could’ve been much worse.
That’s precisely why these defects with Toyota vehicles is getting way too out of hand and if the Japanese company doesn’t do anything about it soon – they don’t have a fix for the ‘entrapped’ accelerator pedals – there’s a chance that this may not be the last time we’re going to report a crash of this nature in the future.
We may have an obligation to report incidents of this nature, but - for the sake of those involved in these accidents - we prefer to not do it this often.
If Toyota wanted any more proof as to how dangerous those sticky accelerator pedals can be, they can look no further at this traffic incident that occurred in San Diego where the driver of a Toyota Prius placed an emergency 911 call because the accelerator of his Prius ‘jumped’ and he couldn’t do anything to make the car slow down.
According to the California Highway Patrol, the runaway Prius was travelling on Interstate 8 near San Diego when the accelerator of hybrid inexplicably got stuck leaving the driver, 61-year old James Sikes, in a high-speed, no-stopping vehicle. Fortunately, the CHP responded quickly and as soon as they caught up with the Prius, put their patrol car in front of the Prius and used it slow down the hybrid car before coming to a stop near the La Post Bridge with the patrol car directly in front of it.
Here’s the news report that was given by NBC’s local San Diego affiliate who was able to get a few words from Sikes as he explained exactly what happened to his Toyota Prius.
With Toyota embroiled in the biggest crisis in company history, you’d figure that there’s no way to go but up for the embattled auto giant. Unfortunately, it’s becoming more and more apparent that Toyota’s problems are far from over.
After already recalling an estimated 8 million vehicles over sticky accelerator, a new problem has arisen from a number of Toyota units, forcing the Japanese-based automaker to recall about 437,000 more units of the Toyota Prius, the Lexus HS 250h , and the Toyota Sai.
What makes is worse for Toyota is that the recall of these units is completely different from the over 9 million vehicles that Toyota has previously recalled. While those cars suffered from sticky accelerators pedals, this latest batch consisting mostly of Prius and Lexus HS 250h models involve “inconsistent braking during slow and steady application of brakes on rough or slick road surfaces when the ABS is activated in an effort to maintain traction.”
It may sound a little too complicated at first but the bottom line is that these cars have a very serious braking problem, which could end up leading to fatal accidents down the road. While accidents stemming from this problem have been minimal, Toyota isn’t taking any more chances in making irreparable damage to its already hard-hit reputation.
Already facing a global recall of catastrophic proportions – around 8 million Toyotas have been recalled because of defective accelerator pedals – Toyota’s is bracing itself for another global recall, this time for the Toyota Prius.
Reports have been coming out in Toyota’s home country of Japan, particularly from the country’s biggest newspaper, Yomiuri, that the automaker is scheduled to announce the recall of its Prius line sometime in the next few days because of growing braking concerns that seems to have plagued the hybrid vehicle.
Contrary to the problems associated with other Toyota models, the problem with the Prius seems to be solvable through a software upgrade, which can be done rather easily and less time than the bigger accelerator issues that has afflicted a large chunk of Toyota’s fleet.
Nevertheless, the impending recall of the Prius is the last thing Toyota needs right now, especially after it has all but shattered its reputation as a safe and reliable brand. Where this goes is anybody’s guess, but the way things are going, it’s going to take a while before Toyota can re-establish its image and reputation that has been stained and tarnished to incredulous levels.