Texas is facing a great pickup battle having Ford, Chevy, Dodge, and Toyota as contenders. Toyota Motor Corp., meanwhile, works to lure true truckers in Texas to win over more customers. This is why it has unleashed its redesigned Tundra to steal a portion of Ford F-150’s sales. But the best-selling pickup is not the only potent rival. There is the new Chevy Silverado and Dodge Ram. Moreover, the Japanese automaker is expected to exert extra effort in order for its goal to materialize.

According to J.D. Power and Associates, Ford F-Series dived nearly 3.6 percentage points across the nation to hold 30.7 percent of the market. In Texas, the models lost 5.5 points to fall to 31.9 percent, reported the Michigan-based R.L. Polk & Co. In comparison, the Tundra, sources divulged recorded nearly 3.5 points nationwide and 3.7 in Texas in its first year since a major redesign.

“Those numbers might not seem huge, but when you consider truck buyers are second only to luxury buyers in terms of loyalty, Ford’s drop and Toyota’s climb are significant,” said Lonnie Miller, the director of industry analysis at Polk. “There’s no doubt been a very aggressive push by Toyota.”

“We certainly had a lot more full-size pickups traded in for Tundras in ’07,” said Tom Shopoff, the director of truck support for Gulf States Toyota, a network of dealerships that includes statewide Tundra best-seller Fred Haas Toyota World in Spring. “We have a tremendous product.”

But Shopoff predicted the Tundra would see a bubble burst. “You’ve seen the big bubble,” he noted.

Increased competition from Toyota comes at a time when auto sales in general and pickup sales in particular, are down, according to Houston Chronicle. Auto sales in 2007 fell 2.4 percent, and large pickups were down 2.7 percent, Libby said in an interview.

“That means more competition, which in turn means more incentives and lower prices,” Libby concluded. “The winner in all this is the consumer.”


Audi’s Godfather-themed Super Bowl commercial

Audi AG is revving up its image as the new luxury auto brand through a high-budgeted Super Bowl commercial.

The first Big Game ad of the Volkswagen-owned automaker in two decades will be featuring the new R8. The said ad utilizes a send-up iconic scene from The Godfather to poke fun, without naming names, at luxury auto rivals, reported USA Today.

The German automaker will be competing with several rivals in the auto industry for attention in the game. General Motors Corp., Toyota Motor Corp. and Hyundai Motors are in the game. Additionally, Nissan Motor Corp. and other automakers are acquiring ‘spot’ ads in individual markets.

Venables Bell & Partners in San Francisco, the advertising company behind Audi’s ad, took that into account. “The fact that people don’t pay attention to auto ads unless they are in the market for a car is exactly the ammunition we used to do something different and provocative,” said Paul Venables, the agency founder and co-creative director. “We have this slow, methodical open; it’s eerie and not a gag a minute. The light bulb is going to go off that it’s The Godfather. All those things contribute to a pause that’s going to deliver an entertaining story and brand message.”

Audi paid Paramount Pictures a licensing fee that it would describe only as ranging from $500,000 to $1.5 million.

Who will get to see Audi’s ad first? According to reports, the lucky ones are the registered users of the automaker’s official Web site. The ad will be e-mailed to approximately 35,000 registered users of on Super Bowl morning.

Audi, to note, is already etching a positive standing in the industry. In 2007, global sales of the automakers surged 6.5 percent from the previous year to 964,000. Additionally, the limited production of the R8 for this year is already sold out. Moreover, the automaker hopes its Super Bowl ad will make its image shine even brighter at the same time drive more gains to its coffers.

 Toyota Prius

Today, with the increasing price of fuel and the threat of global warming, consumers are looking to own vehicles which are both fuel efficient and eco-friendly. Japanese automaker Toyota is widely considered by many to be at the top when it comes to providing vehicles matching those attributes.

The Toyota Prius, the iconic gas electric hybrid car from Toyota, is also known to be the most popular green vehicle today. And this month, the automaker is celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Prius. The decade marks the Prius setting the bar for other vehicles when it comes to fuel efficiency. Even today, Toyota’s rivals are yet to come up with a vehicle that can be called quite a match to the Prius.

One of the main reasons for the Prius’ popularity is its use of a hybrid system. The said system is composed of a small internal combustion engine and a powerful electric motor. The electric motor powered by a battery pack helps the gas engine power the car. With the electric motor taking over during light load operations, fuel consumption is cut resulting to cleaner emission and better fuel efficiency.

Another reason why the Prius is popular with consumers is its ease of handling which is surprising due to the fact that hybrid vehicles in the past are known for not being too consumer friendly. And contrary to what others believe, the Prius is easy to maintain.

In the first ten years of the car’s life, there have been about 900,000 units of the Prius sold across the world. Of that number, it is estimated that more than 81,000 units were sold in Europe. In the said continent, the Prius was only offered from 2000. With the release of the 2004 Prius, many consumers took notice and got enticed by the green credential of the vehicle which resulted to a boost in demand for the Prius.

Earlier this year, Toyota announced that they have already sold more than a million hybrid vehicles. The bulk of that is not surprisingly attributed to the Prius. In the United States, the Prius has become more than a green car – it has become the poster car of the green revolution thus propelling Toyota to the top.

Toyota’s new safety equipment showed the participants composed of journalists on how it detects unusual driving behaviors like drunkenness and drowsiness.

The new Toyota facility measures 4.5 meter long and 7.1 meter wide that can be installed in any vehicle model. The simulator is lined on the inside with a screen showing a moving, wrap-around view of the outside environment that gives the driver and his passengers the chimera of traveling.

Toyota’s product has the longest range of 35 meters from front to back and 20 meters from right to left says Toyota engineers.

“It still needs some fine tuning, but we aim to start putting it to use in earnest from next April,” said Takashi Yonekawa, a senior staff engineer at the centre.

The project was completed in September and until the demonstration, Toyota never allowed reporters into the pod. The pod can also be seen via a glass pane in an adjacent room. Although the pod was not moving, the moving images which are a true-to life depiction of 64 km of road in a 6-square kilometer section of the surrounding area, it was almost real that the spectators felt nauseous.

On the same demonstration, Toyota also introduced another safety technology based on Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS). This equipment uses global positioning system receivers and sensors which give way to communication between cars and road infrastructure, pedestrians or other cars to reduce collisions.

Also, according to Toyota Managing Officer Takashi Shigematsu, their domestic rivals, Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. are working on the same equipment. The three largest automakers are expecting to test their products next year.

Auto safety equipments are now the added spice to which automakers appeal to their consumers. Toyota Motor Corp. is taking it seriously and on the lead in the safety race. Last year, the biggest Japanese automaker equipped its Lexus LS460 with a pedestrian detection system.

Some of the Detroit automakers have started their endeavor of producing plug-in hybrids to contribute to a cleaner and greener environment. With the increasing demand for fuel-efficient cars, automakers are given no wider leeway but to build more hybrids and flex-fuel vehicles.

“Spiteful” fuel legislations, rising gasoline prices, and costly plug-ins production costs are deemed major obstacles in the industry.

Additionally, the researchers factored in a period of time for plug-in sales to ramp up. Chevrolet, Saturn and Toyota are among the automakers experimenting with plug-in hybrids.

The General Motors Corp. is on top of the list of automakers engaged in plug-in hybrids. Saturn might well be the first one to sell a plug-in. Plug-ins do have some big problems to overcome: the added cost, weight and cargo space of the batteries they must house; the limited range of the batteries when charged; and the impact on the power grid from millions of people plugging in their cars, reported MSNBC.

Mike Omotoso, a senior manager at the market research firm J.D. Power and Associates, said that he thinks widespread electricity demand for cars has the potential to be an issue. “We haven’t looked at that sort of extreme scenario in terms of that level of volume for plug-ins, but the increased demand would possibly put a strain on the grid, especially in places like California that are already under strain some times of the year, like in peak summer periods with everyone using their air-conditioning,” he said.

Waiting for the 2008 Toyota Models? Well, I have it for you and check it out.

Eight Toyota vehicles of the 2008 model year will roll out in dealerships all over the U.S. this August. These vehicles include the Prius hybrid, Yaris subcompact car, RAV4 compact SUV, Fj Cruiser SUV, 4Runner mid size SUV, and Tacoma truck, as well as Sienna pick up truck model.

You better get your pen and papers ready and jot down these prices and features of the 2008 Toyota models.


2008 Toyota Avalon

The 2008 Toyota comes with updated AM/FM/CD changer with nine speakers, MP3 playback capability and auxiliary audio input jack as a standard feature. The MSRP for the Toyota Avalon XL is at $27,075, and $34,415 for the Avalon Limited.


2008 Toyota Prius

For the 2008 model year, the Prius based model will roll out in dealerships carrying a base MSRP of $20,950, and $23,220 for the Prius Touring model.


2008 Yaris Liftback

The 2008 Yaris features several new components like standard tire pressure monitoring system,color-keyed front and rear under-bumper spoilers and side rocker panels, front passenger sport seats, leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob. The Yaris Liftback with manual gearbox carries a MSRP of $11,300. For the Yaris Sedan, the MSRP is $12,900.


2008 Toyota RAV4

With the RAV4, you can get front passenger seat-mounted side airbags, first- and second-row side-curtain airbags with roll-over sensor as standard equipment. The 2008 RAV4 2WD has a base MSRP of $21,100, while the RAV4 4WD Limited V6 costs $26,670.


2008 Toyota FJ Cruiser 2WD (AT) – $22,545
2008 FJ Cruiser 4WD (AT) – $24,135

The 2008 FJ Cruiser comes with a number of key upgrades like an anti-theft system, an illuminated entry system, and side-curtain airbags for both rows. Automatic gearbox is standard. Price is at $22,545 for the FJ Cruiser 2WD model, and $24,135 for the 4WD model.


2008 Toyota 4Runner

The 2008 4Runner 2WD SR5 V6 is priced at $28,015. The more powerful 4Runner 4WD Limited V8 carries a base MSRP of $38,735.


2008 Toyota Tacoma

The Tacoma 2WD four-cylinder model with manual gearbox is priced at $14,280, while the Tacoma Double Cab 4WD V6 is at $26,115.


2008 Toyota Sienna

Lastly, the Sienna 2WD CE rolls out this August carrying a MSRP of $24,340. The MSRP for Sienna AWD Limited is $37,665. Features include Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control and rear disc brakes on all models, and Bluetooth.

Auto production of Japan’s top automakers was interrupted after Riken Corp., a leading auto part supplier, was damaged by a powerful earthquake which hit the territory last Monday. The Toyota Motor Corp., Japan’s biggest automaker, stopped production at its Japanese plants Wednesday after the said supplier of transmission and engine parts, sustained heavy damage at its facilities from the quake. Additionally, Toyota also cancelled one shift today and all production at its assembly and components plants in Japan on Friday. Other Japanese automakers might have suffered production curtailments. Honda is assessing the impact of the damage at Riken’s facilities, which supply its Japanese plants but do not ship parts to its North American plants, said David Iida, a Detroit-based spokesman for Honda.

Toyota, for one, produces 1.6 million product lines annually in North America. The rest are imported from Japan.

Meanwhile, Nissan, Mitsubishi Motors Corp., Fuji Heavy Industries, Suzuki Motor Corp., Jatco transmission manufacturer and other customers have scaled production in Japan.

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