Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Toyota Announces Voluntary Recall on 2010 Model-Year Prius and 2010 Lexus HS 250h Vehicles to Update ABS Software

Inspection of Power Steering Hose Position on Certain 2010 Camry Also Announced

Recalls Underscore Toyota’s Commitment to Address All Vehicle Quality and Safety Issues Promptly and Effectively

Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc, today announced it will conduct a voluntary safety recall on approximately 133,000 2010 Model Year Prius vehicles and 14,500 Lexus Division 2010 HS 250h vehicles to update software in the vehicle’s anti-lock brake system (ABS). No other Toyota, Lexus, or Scion vehicles are involved in this recall.
The ABS, in normal operation, engages and disengages rapidly (many times per second) as the control system senses and reacts to tire slippage. Some 2010 model year Prius and 2010 HS 250h owners have reported experiencing inconsistent brake feel during slow and steady application of brakes on rough or slick road surfaces when the ABS is activated in an effort to maintain tire traction.
Toyota has responded to owner concerns with a running production change for 2010 Prius that was introduced last month, improving the ABS system’s response time, as well as the system’s overall sensitivity to tire slippage. The production change for the HS 250h is planned for later this month.
“We’re committed to doing everything we can – as fast as we can – to restore consumer trust in Toyota, and these recalls are part of this effort,” said Jim Lentz, President and Chief Operating Officer, Toyota Motor Sales. “We regret the inconvenience this recall will cause to Prius and HS 250h owners, and will do our best with the support of our dealers to make sure that it is conducted in the most trouble-free manner possible.”
Mr. Lentz continued: “As part of the quality improvement program announced by Toyota President Akio Toyoda last week, our company is undertaking a top to bottom review to ensure that our vehicles meet our own high standards of safety and reliability, now and for the future. We are taking steps to implement more stringent quality control across the company, to investigate customer complaints more aggressively and to respond more quickly to any safety issues we identify.”
The recall will allow Toyota dealers to perform the software update on 2010 Prius vehicles sold prior to this running production change. Only Prius vehicles produced since May 2009 and all HS 250h vehicles are subject to this recall. First- and second-generation Prius vehicles use a different ABS system and are not involved in this campaign.
The ABS system on the Lexus HS 250h is similar in design to the Prius. The software adjustment planned for HS 250h production and dealer modification is being finalized and will be announced very soon.
Toyota will begin mailing letters to Prius owners included in this recall next week and HS 250h owners within the next few weeks, to let them know when to bring their vehicles into a dealership. Owners will only receive a letter if their vehicle is involved in the recall.
Separately, Toyota will conduct a voluntary safety recall on approximately 7,300 early production - 2010 model year Camry vehicles equipped with the 4 cylinder engine to inspect for a power steering hose that may be in contact with a front brake tube. This contact could lead to a hole in the brake tube and cause a brake fluid leak, increased brake pedal stroke and greater vehicle stopping distance.
Owners of the involved 2010 Camry vehicles will be notified by mail starting in the middle of February.
Detailed information about these recalls is available to customers at at the Toyota Customer Experience Center at 1-800-331-4331

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Michael Schumacher on Mercedes GP Petronas - Day 3 testing

Michael Schumacher returned to the cockpit of the MGP W01 car in Valencia today for the third and final day of the first Formula One pre-season test session.
Following his first experience of the new 2010 car on Monday afternoon, Michael spent the early part of his first full day working on the set-up and developing the balance of the car. For the afternoon, the focus switched to long runs before a hydraulic problem on the car brought the day to a close one hour early.
Michael completed 82 laps today and set the third fastest time - a 01:12.438.
The next test for the MERCEDES GP PETRONAS team starts on Wednesday 10 February in Jerez, Spain.
Michael Schumacher: “I’m very happy to have been back in a Formula One car this week. We had a short run on Monday and then almost a full day today which has been good. The experience has been very positive and the car is running smoothly with just a small hydraulic leak which stopped us slightly early today. The main focus is on reliability and doing as many laps as we can so we’re not too worried about looking at the lap times right now. It’s a new challenge and a new experience for me this year but knowing Ross so well and working with him again has made it very easy and I feel at home in the team already. I’m feeling fresh and motivated and very positive about the season ahead. I can’t wait to be back in the car to continue the programme in Jerez next week.”

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Updated Statement From Toyota Regarding Prius Brake Issue

Toyota is aware that NHTSA has opened a Preliminary Evaluation centered on owner complaints of a braking issue with the 2010 model year Prius. Toyota will cooperate fully with NHTSA’s investigation.
Some customers have complained of inconsistent brake feel during slow and steady application of brakes on rough or slick road surfaces when the anti-lock brake system (ABS) is activated in an effort to maintain tire traction. The system, in normal operation, engages and disengages rapidly (many times per second) as the control system senses and reacts to tire slippage. A running production change was introduced last month, improving the ABS system’s response time, as well as the system’s overall sensitivity to tire slippage.
This preliminary evaluation addresses owner complaints specific to the 2010 Prius. This condition is not related to either the floor mat entrapment recall or the sticky pedal recall currently in action.
Toyota will continue to evaluate the condition as it relates to owner complaints and will keep NHTSA informed of its progress.

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Friday, February 05, 2010

11,111,111th Polo leaves assembly line at Volkswagen Group India

German President Köhler is guest at production anniversary in Pune

Wolfsburg / Pune, 04 February 2010 - On his state visit to India, Prof. Dr. Horst Köhler, President of the Federal Republic of Germany, today visited the Volkswagen plant in Pune. The German President joined Prof. Dr. Jochem Heizmann, Member of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG with responsibility for ‘Group Production’, and Jörg Müller, President and Managing Director of Volkswagen Group India, at the celebrations to mark the roll-out of the 11,111,111th Polo ever produced.

Heizmann welcomed the German President to the plant which was opened in 2009 and is a key element in Volkswagen’s growth roadmap in the Indian subcontinent. As Heizmann emphasized: "The scale of investment to date and the sustainable employment opportunities for people from the region underscore Volkswagen’s long-term commitment to India. The Polo built at the Pune plant demonstrates that excellent vehicles are created when German engineering prowess interacts perfectly with Indian skills."

Only two weeks ago, the Polo was named "Car of the Year 2010", one of the most prestigious awards in Europe. Volkswagen began building a hatchback version of the Polo specially designed for the Indian market in December 2009. "We are determined to bring the Polo’s European success story to India. Volkswagen will tap its opportunities in India with vehicles like the Polo, our modern plant in Pune and a highly-motivated workforce," Heizmann continued. "The visit by the German President, today’s production anniversary and the naming of Volkswagen Group India as "Automotive Company of the Year" just a few weeks ago inspire us to continue on the course we have set," Müller added.

At the event celebrating the roll-out of the 11,111,111th Polo, the German President toured the new Volkswagen plant in Maharashtra State accompanied by a delegation of 30 high-ranking representatives from politics and industry. The group found out about the training programs for the newly recruited employees and the innovative production processes at the plant.

The Pune plant is one of the most modern in the Volkswagen Group and covers all stages in the production process from press shop through body shop and paint shop to final assembly. It has a maximum annual capacity of 110,000 vehicles. In addition to the Volkswagen Polo, the Pune plant also builds the Škoda Fabia.

With a total financial commitment amounting to 580 million euros, the Volkswagen plant in Pune is the largest investment to date by a German company in India. Volkswagen plans to employ some 2,500 people locally by the end of 2010.

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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Golf is Safest Car of 2009

Successful model from Wolfsburg wins top EuroNCAP honours

Wolfsburg, 02 February 2010 - For the first time ever, the EuroNCAP Institute in Brussels compiled all of its crash test results for the year 2009 and named the safest car of the year: The Golf won out against the competition with a total of 103 points.

The Golf had already attained a five-star EuroNCAP rating in the year 2008. Initially, this testing programme - conducted since 1997 - only assessed frontal crashes, side crashes and pedestrian protection. After stricter criteria were introduced at the beginning of 2009, the Golf was re-tested, and it performed impressively in all four categories: Occupant protection of adults, protection of children, pedestrian protection and supporting safety and driver assistance systems. The bestseller from Wolfsburg once again attained the coveted five-star rating with the top score of 103 points, earning it the title of “Safest Car of 2009”. In total, 33 cars were tested last year under the new, stricter and more extensive EuroNCAP crash testing procedure.

Electronic safety and assistance systems that help prevent accidents and serious injuries are now also incorporated in the rating of the new, stricter assessment method. The Golf offers maximum safety with standard safety features that include ESP with counter-steer assist, ABS with braking assistance, anti-slip regulation (ASR), electronic differential lock (EDS), engine drag torque control (MSR), trailer stabilisation, Isofix mounting brackets for two child seats on the rear bench as well as airbags for driver and front passenger with passenger-side deactivation, including knee airbag for the driver and a head airbag system for front and rear passengers with side airbags.

The Golf not only fulfils European safety standards. In 2008, the compact car earned the prestigious title of “Top Safety Pick” - awarded by the independent US safety institute “Insurance Institute for Highway Safety” (IIHS). In this evaluation, vehicles were tested in a frontal crash at 40 mph (64 km/h) and in a side crash at 31 mph (50 km/h) with a movable barrier shaped like the front end of an SUV. In addition, seat behaviour was studied in a rear-end crash.

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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The Fast and Famous

You petrol heads out there would remember the film "Rendezvous", which was a 9-minute clip about a Ferrari tearing through the streets of Paris. Well, since I've been so fascinated with the SLS AMG, this clip called "The Fast and Famous" features the SLS AMG being driven by none other than the man who knows his cars best, funny man Jay Leno.

Now, this is the first time I heard the 6.3-litre naturally aspirated V8 being driven for a long period and the sound of the crackle of the V8 at 5,500rpm is truly unbelievable. The exhaust has a nice burble and hear it being driven at normal speeds really does show the car's true character.

Rev the engine harder and it sounds like a WWII fighter jet and it looks the part too. Enjoy the clip.

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First test of the new MERCEDES GP PETRONAS in Valencia on 1 February 2010 with Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher. Nico was at the wheel in the morning whilst Michael took over in the afternoon.

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The Mercedes-Benz gull-wing...

I've always thought that the original gull-wing, the Mercedes-Benz 300SL was one of the best looking cars that MB ever created and this was a work of a genius when it was made available to the public in 1954. Yea, Lambos had their scissors doors that slide up, and while it looks cool and all, you can't deny that the gull-wing made the car look like a plane. Although it looks amazing, the doors were rubbish. You see, the door sills as you can see there were made rather unusual and if you were to sit in it, it'll be as if you were sitting in a boat or some sorts. This meant getting in and out was rather troublesome. To rectify this, Mercedes-Benz introduced a tilt-away steering column to ease access, but since there were no electronics back then, you'd have to do it manually... still much of a chore.

But who cares? You had doors that flapped like a large bird of prey and back then, this was the fastest production car money could buy. But then again, it was a pain to live with, kinda like how all supercars were back then. This car was the first-ever gasoline powered car to have fuel injection directly into the combustion chamber and since they did not have any ECU or control device back then, the injection had to be done manually via a mechanical fuel pump. This created a lot of problems as it did not do it in intervals, but rather continuously. So, when the engine was running, it'll s quirt. When you came to a halt, it'll squirt. That's fine. The problem comes when the fuel pump actually squirts fuel into the chambers during the interval between shutting off the ignition and the engine coming to a stop and with the access fuel in the engine, it acts as a cleaning agent by washing off all lubricating oil on the cylinder walls and diluting the lube itself. You can imagine what that'll do to the engine in the long run... I'll leave that to your imagination.

The above is the latest print ad that Mercedes-Benz has come up with for the latest SLS AMG. I like the tag-line, "A cockpit. An engine. Two wings. Is it still a car?"

That really stirs up your heart when you look at it. OK, I'm still pissed that the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren had an automatic gearbox and for those of us who have driven a Mercedes-Benz automatic gearbox know that it's one that doesn't work on a sports car. If it doesn't work on a sports car, why give one to a supercar? I'm glad that the new SLS AMG has a better gearbox mated to the engine and this is one masterpiece that ALL the people involved with the car has to be given credit. It looks good on paper and sounds good as well. From the statements that the fortunate motoring journalists in Europe who have driven the car, I can find no faults with the car. The future looks bright for the SLS AMG.

It'll do 100km/h in 3.8 seconds and that's supercar territory. I'll leave the write up about the car for another posting but for the time being, here's an advert of the all-new SLS AMG featuring none other than their current driver for Mercedes GP Petronas, Michael Schumacher introducing the car. Enjoy.

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