Report: Toyota reaffirms commitment to body-on-frame SUVs

Filed under: SUV, Toyota, Off-Road

2014 Toyota 4Runner front three-quarter

Toyota sold 121,055 Highlander CUVs in 2012, according to Automotive News. By comparison, it sold 78,457 examples of four different body-on-frame, truck-based SUVs (4Runner, FJ Cruiser, Sequoia and Land Cruiser). One could argue then, that the traditional SUVs aren’t pulling their weight from a sales perspective. Yet that isn’t stopping Toyota from reaffirming its commitment to a segment that has seen its former champions – Ford, General Motors and Chrysler – abandon it with alarming speed. Ford and GM still offer body-on frame utilities, but only in the very largest offerings, catering to seven or even eight passengers. Everything outside of the Expedition or Tahoe rides now on a unibody.

Toyota’s decision to stick with the technology is good news if you’re in the market for smaller SUVs that are still capable of heading well off the beaten path. Outside of the Jeep Wrangler, Grand Cherokee (a unibody) and perhaps Nissan Xterra, there’s not much in terms of capable SUVs between $20,000 and $50,000. As the Toyota brand’s US head, Bill Fay, says, “Clearly, the trend has shifted, but there is still an owner base that is interested in these vehicles.”

We don’t doubt Fay on that, but it may also be somewhat telling that Toyota’s SUV lineup is aging, and we haven’t seen or heard much about replacement models in the pipeline. Admittedly, the 4Runner (pictured) has been facelifted for 2014, but it’s mostly cosmetic in nature. Despite Toyota’s posturing, we still expect its body-on-frame lineup to thin in the coming years as sales dwindle and escalating fuel-economy standards make business cases even tougher. Here’s hoping that Toyota manages to keep at least one rough-and-tumble SUV in its lineup in the coming years.

Toyota reaffirms commitment to body-on-frame SUVs originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 29 Jul 2013 15:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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2012 Nissan Versa will spawn hatchback body style, just not quite yet

Filed under: Budget, Hatchback, Nissan

2012 Nissan Versa

2012 Nissan Versa – Click above for high-res image gallery

When we studied the trends of hatchback and sedan sales numbers within the subcompact segment, we found that the more functional three- and five-door models tend to attract the majority of buyers. Nissan – a company whose Versa enjoys the largest share (20 percent) of this segment – stated that about two-thirds of all Versas sold in the United States are hatchbacks.

2012 Nissan TiidaSo why, then, when the 2012 Versa sedan debuted at the New York Auto Show last month, was there no five-door variant in sight? After all, the Versa’s global sister, the Tiida (pictured right), debuted in funky hatchback form at the Shanghai Motor Show recently, and with the five-door model commanding the majority of sales, Nissan wouldn’t be smart to kill off its more popular offering.

We spoke to David Reuter, Nissan’s vice president of corporate communications, who assured us that a new version of the Versa hatchback is coming, just not quite yet.

The majority of Versa sold are the five-door. Overall, we sold 99,705 Versa in 2010, compared to our next closest competitor (Honda Fit) who sold just under 55,000 units. So, from a business standpoint, we decided to improve the sedan first.
As of this writing, it is unclear exactly when we’ll see the next-generation Versa hatch. In the meantime, Reuter says that the current car will soldier on for the 2012 model year with “only normal model year to model year changes.”

2012 Nissan Versa will spawn hatchback body style, just not quite yet originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 05 May 2011 17:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Lotus to supply engines and body kits for 2012 IndyCar Series

Filed under: Motorsports, Lotus, Racing

Lotus-Cosworth/KV Racing IndyCar

Lotus Cosworth KV Racing IndyCar rendering – Click above for high-res image gallery

IndyCar is about to get a heck of a lot more interesting to both diehard open-wheel fans and casual observers alike. While the current series relies on a single chassis platform (Dallara) and engine supplier (Honda), starting in 2012 a number of engine options and aero packages will be allowed, though the same basic chassis will still be used by all teams (again from Dallara).

Just a short while after Chevrolet announced that it was going to offer a turbocharged 2.4-liter V6 engine for the 2012 season, Lotus chose to officially throw its storied British name into the racing ring with an announcement from the 2010 LA Auto Show. In addition, Lotus will offer its own customized aerodynamics package that should help set Lotus-powered teams apart from the competition.

Lotus and Chevrolet will join Honda, which announced that it will also offer an engine package for 2012 IndyCar teams, and all three teams will be relying on turbocharged V6s displacing 2.4 liters, all running on E85 as per the rule book. Check out the official announcement after the jump.

Gallery: Lotus Cosworth IndyCar

[Source: Lotus]

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Lotus to supply engines and body kits for 2012 IndyCar Series originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 18 Nov 2010 18:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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DentBetty provides body shop estimates from your uploaded photos

Filed under: Etc., Technology

DentBetty

Whether the cretin responsible for flattening the grille of your mint Isuzu Impulse left a note or not, the damage wrought on your vehicle is going to require repair. DentBetty streamlines the traditional pain-in-the-tuchas process of traipsing around to various body shops to get estimates for cosmetic repairs. Any incident that results in structural damage still requires a firsthand look by body professionals, but cosmetic damage is a very common annoyance that many people forgo repairing due to the aggravation.

DentBetty is up and running in California, Massachusetts and New York, with a total of about 120 participating shops so far. Vehicle owners can visit the DentBetty website and upload at least two photos of their car’s damage. Participating repair facilities will then respond with estimates. The web-based form also asks whether the repair will be paid for by insurance or personally, and both users and shops are rated, so feedback scores can factor in to the decision-making process. It’s a nice insulator between you and the repair facility; DentBetty doesn’t share your email with the shops, and you’re not asked for credit card information, either. Eventually, the DentBetty service will be branched out to SMS messaging, and a smartphone app doesn’t sound like much of a stretch, either.
[Source: Mashable.com]

DentBetty provides body shop estimates from your uploaded photos originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 03 Oct 2010 17:45:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Mercedes-Benz developing ‘Magic’ active body control

Filed under: Convertible, Coupe, Sedan, Technology, Mercedes-Benz, Luxury

Mercedes-Benz CL Class

Mercedes-Benz has codenamed its latest suite of driver convenience aids “Magic,” and the automaker will soon introduce a Magic Carpet Magic Body Control suspension technology and a Magic Sky Control roof tech. Sadly, there are no wizards nor Tinkerbells involved in any of this, just a whole bunch of electro-hydraulic and magnetorheological engineering.

Magic Body Control is the next generation of Active Body Control. Created with the help of ZF, the system of bushings atop the strut towers neutralizes wheel and body movements at two different frequencies. Daimler’s testing indicates that MBC reduces 80 percent of unsavory suspension reverberations. It will show up on the S-Class and CL-Class in 2013.

Magic Sky Control will be seen as soon as next year on the new SLK. Working like photochromatic sunglasses that get darker in the sun, a magnetorheological glass offers a range of opacity from “near totally clear” to “dark blue.” It doesn’t alter the form of the roof and can be applied to any window, so expect to see this new development work its way through Mercedes-Benz’s lineup. This technology could be used around a car’s entire greenhouse and perhaps obviate the need for sun visors.

[Source: Inside Line]

Report: Mercedes-Benz developing ‘Magic’ active body control originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 09 Sep 2010 19:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Video: BFGoodrich takes body modification to a new level

Filed under: Marketing/Advertising, Safety, Videos, Humor

BFGoodrich gets sticky – Click above to watch video after the jump

We don’t exactly envy the ad gurus charged with marketing tires. While a new set of sticky rubber may get our imaginations fired up in a hurry, the rest of the motoring public could typically care less about compounds, tread blocks and treadwear ratings. Despite being one of the most important components of any vehicle, tires just don’t get the love or attention they deserve. That sort of apathy is exactly why most tire manufacturers are forced to get creative when it comes to rolling out new ad campaigns.

BFGoodrich is attempting to fire up some sales with its new Bolt On campaign. Instead of blathering on about stopping distances or cornering ability, the company has gone through the trouble of attempting to demonstrate just how big of an impact a new set of tires can make for a vehicle by using body modification as a metaphor. Trippy. Hit the jump to see the first of a series of ads as well as a behind the scenes look at the making of the spots.

[Source: YouTube]

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Video: BFGoodrich takes body modification to a new level originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 16 Jul 2010 18:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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