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2024 Toyota Hilux to come with Mild Hybrid System

Anticipations are high for the upcoming Toyota Hilux Hybrid set to debut in 2024. Having sold over 21 million units since its inception in 1968, the Hilux is stepping into the realm of electric assistance for the first time with the introduction of the new Hilux Hybrid 48V. Toyota has unveiled this hybrid variant, scheduled to arrive in Europe by mid-2024.

Toyota's venture into electric-powered Hilux models isn't novel, as the company previously showcased a prototype hydrogen-powered version and teased an all-electric pick-up with the EPU Concept. The broader pick-up market is embracing electrification, evident in the launches of Tesla's Cybertruck, Ford's all-electric F-150 Lightning, and Isuzu's announcement of an upcoming electric truck.

The Hilux Hybrid 48V distinguishes itself through a 48V mild-hybrid configuration, where the 2.8-liter diesel engine of the existing truck is coupled with a belt-driven motor generator. This setup charges a 48V battery positioned beneath the rear seats. Once charged, the battery contributes 16bhp and 65Nm of torque, enhancing acceleration, power, and efficiency. Although Toyota has not disclosed alterations to the diesel model's 0-62mph time of 10.7 seconds, the hybrid promises improvements in braking performance and a smoother ride.

The hybrid model introduces a stop-start system that allows the engine to remain off for extended periods during coasting, reducing engine noise and enhancing fuel economy by up to five percent, according to Toyota. Additionally, the Hilux Hybrid offers a quicker throttle response from a standstill, thanks to electric assistance.

Available exclusively in the Invincible or Invincible X trims (excluding the GR Sport variant), the Hilux Hybrid provides extra stability control adjustability with five pre-set options: Dirt, Sand, Mud, Deep Snow, or Rock. It boasts a water-wading capability of up to 700mm.

While Toyota has not disclosed the pricing details for the Hilux Hybrid's arrival in the summer of next year, expectations suggest increases over the £35,305 (excluding VAT) Invincible and the £38,688 (excluding VAT) Invincible X models.

U.S. Initiatives Target Restricting China's Involvement in Electric Vehicles

In a recent development, the United States has introduced regulations with the aim of reducing China's involvement in the production of electric cars within the country. The new rules, tied to government incentives for American-made electric vehicles, specifically target Chinese components in an effort to bolster the domestic electric vehicle industry. Critics argue that these restrictions may hinder the adoption of electric cars, while proponents view them as essential for economic and security reasons.

China currently dominates the production of electric car batteries and the minerals essential for their manufacturing. Concerns about economic reliance on Chinese manufacturers have led to increased scrutiny, prompting the U.S. government to impose limitations on collaborations between American companies and Chinese firms, such as the partnership between Ford and China's CATL, a major battery manufacturer.

Last year, Congress passed a climate law offering significant tax incentives to boost the U.S. electric vehicle industry. The law included a tax incentive of up to $7,500 per vehicle for those made in the U.S. and immediately excluded electric cars manufactured outside the country from receiving tax credits. Starting in 2024, the law prohibits cars from eligibility for tax credits if they contain battery components from a "foreign entity of concern," with expanded restrictions by 2025 covering critical materials associated with such entities.

The proposal defines a "foreign entity of concern" as a company headquartered in or owned/controlled by China, Russia, Iran, or North Korea. Companies meeting specific criteria related to the influence of these countries' governments would fall under these rules, which are now open for public comment.

John Podesta, senior adviser to the President for Clean Energy Innovation and Implementation, stated that the measures aim to reverse the trend of outsourcing jobs and factories to China. However, Senator Joe Manchin expressed concerns, accusing the administration of interpreting the law too loosely and leaving room for China to benefit at the expense of American taxpayers. Manchin pledged to push for revisions and support any legal challenges against the rule.

EV Battery Technology's Impact on Advancing Clean Energy Transition

Amidst the global push for sustainability, batteries have become crucial in transitioning from fossil fuels to clean energy. Lithium-ion batteries, powering everything from mobile devices to electric vehicles, play a pivotal role in decarbonizing sectors and combating climate change.

Despite significant strides, the battery industry is still in its early stages. Large-scale batteries are increasingly vital for providing reliable electric power from renewable sources, reducing dependence on fossil fuels.

In line with India's environmental commitments, a recent market report anticipates substantial growth in the global advanced battery market. Batteries play a crucial role in India's shift to a renewable-powered grid, addressing the intermittency of sources like solar and wind.

Advanced battery technology, including lithium-ion and other innovative designs, has revolutionized energy storage, offering higher efficiency and safety profiles. The growth of the advanced battery market is driven by continuous technological advancements and significant investments.

These batteries are indispensable for the growing adoption of electric vehicles, driving innovations to enhance range and reduce charging times. As technology advances, the battery industry is poised to reshape the energy landscape, propelling us toward a cleaner, more sustainable future free from the constraints of fossil fuels.

NHTSA Broadens Inquiry into Steering Issues with Honda Civic

U.S. regulators overseeing automotive safety have expanded and elevated their inquiry into Honda Civic sedans in response to persistent complaints about steering problems.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) Office of Defects Investigation initiated an investigation in March focused on approximately 238,000 Honda Civics from the 2022-23 model years. The probe was prompted by 145 complaints citing a momentary increase in steering effort, commonly referred to as "sticky steering." These incidents were reported predominantly at highway speeds after a certain duration of driving, particularly in low-mileage vehicles.

In a recently disclosed report on Friday, NHTSA announced the extension of the investigation to include the 2023 Honda CR-V and the Acura Integra. This engineering analysis could potentially impact over 530,000 Honda and Acura vehicles.

As of November 29, the regulatory agency had logged over 1,300 incidents, including at least 14 crashes. Eleven of these crashes claimed that the steering issue led to roadway departure, with two involving alleged overcorrection of the steering wheel. No details were provided for the remaining crash incidents, but three injuries were reported.

Honda attributed the momentary increase in steering effort to manufacturing issues related to the steering gear unit. To rectify the problem, Honda instructed dealerships to replace the electronic power steering gearbox in the affected vehicles.

In light of the expanded inquiry, NHTSA stated that it is intensifying its assessment of "the scope, frequency, and potential safety-related consequences of the momentary increase of steering effort."

Honda's spokesperson, Chris Martin, affirmed the automaker's dedication to safety and acknowledged their awareness of NHTSA's investigation. He stated, "Honda has been in communication with the agency on this topic and will continue to cooperate with NHTSA through the investigation process, while continuing our own internal review of the available information."

Typically, NHTSA investigations commence as preliminary evaluations, during which the agency seeks information from the manufacturer, including data on complaints, injuries, and warranty claims. The manufacturer is given an opportunity to present its perspective on the alleged defect and may issue a recall. Following the evaluation, NHTSA may either conclude the investigation or proceed to the next phase, known as an engineering analysis. If a safety-related defect is confirmed, the agency might send a "recall request" letter to the manufacturer.

Investigation Launched by U.S. into Power Loss in 73,000 Chevrolet Volt Cars

On Friday, a U.S. automotive safety regulator announced the commencement of an investigation into 73,000 Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid cars, citing concerns over power loss, failures to restart, and related issues.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) disclosed the initiation of a preliminary evaluation focused on the model years 2016 through 2019 of Chevrolet Volt. This action follows 61 complaints linked to the Battery Energy Control Module (BECM), with some reports indicating a lack of sufficient warning before the loss of operational power or the onset of reduced power mode.

General Motors had previously released a technical service bulletin suggesting that, in cases of failed restarts, the BECM might require replacement and reprogramming. However, no formal recall has been issued for the vehicles, as confirmed by NHTSA. General Motors ceased production of the Volt in early 2019.

In response to the NHTSA investigation, GM stated that it is cooperating and believes it has taken appropriate measures to address customer concerns regarding the battery energy control module. The automaker expressed its commitment to supporting the agency's review of the matter.

NHTSA highlighted the potential safety risk posed by the issue, especially if affected vehicles are unable to maintain the flow of traffic. The severity of the problem depends on the stalled vehicle's ability to restart.

Some Volt owners reported extended waiting periods or difficulties obtaining replacement battery modules after encountering the power loss issue. GM asserted that it has a sufficient supply of replacement parts in its pipeline.

An owner in Los Angeles described an incident where the Volt "suddenly and unexpectedly lost propulsion while driving, rendering the vehicle unable to turn on or drive." Another owner reported that the Volt would not exceed 35 miles per hour on the highway and would randomly stop driving on electricity.

The Toyota Land Cruiser 70: A Resilient 1980s SUV That Persists Through Time

Toyota has officially announced the reintroduction of the Land Cruiser 70 to the Japanese market as a new vehicle. Originally unveiled in 1984, this iconic SUV has undergone minimal changes throughout its history. While also available in markets such as Australia and South Africa, the Land Cruiser 70 has maintained its distinctive features, embodying its legacy as a durable workhorse.

Despite the impending release of the 2024 Toyota Land Cruiser in the U.S., characterized by retro-inspired styling, enthusiasts seeking a genuine piece of history can turn to the Land Cruiser 70. Although technically a contemporary SUV, a closer inspection reveals that this variant has remained remarkably unchanged since its inception nearly four decades ago.

The Land Cruiser 70, initially designed as a more robust, compact version of Toyota's 4x4 lineup, features a ladder-frame chassis, a boxy exterior, and minimal luxury amenities. While other Land Cruiser models evolved into larger, more opulent off-road vehicles, the Land Cruiser 70 persisted as a dependable workhorse. Continuously available in markets like Australia and South Africa, it was last reintroduced in Japan as a limited-run model in 2014.

With the latest revival, Toyota has subtly updated the Land Cruiser 70 by refreshing headlights and taillights and introducing some modern features. While the body panels remain largely unaltered, the vehicle now offers a contemporary infotainment screen and safety features, including stability control and select driver assists. Despite these updates, the interior maintains a simple, utilitarian design with traditional climate controls and a shiftable transfer case.

The Japan-market version exclusively offers a 2.8-liter turbo-diesel inline-four engine, generating 201 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. Equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission and a four-wheel-drive system with a low range, the Land Cruiser 70 embodies its timeless off-road capabilities.

Toyota plans a limited annual production of around 400 units for the Japanese market, with the Land Cruiser 70 starting at approximately $32,000. This reaffirms Toyota's commitment to preserving the authentic spirit of its historic 4x4 vehicles, catering to those who appreciate the enduring charm of a classic SUV over fully modernized or hybrid alternatives.

Can Tesla's Cybertruck Overcome its Turbulent Beginning?

The latest chapter in the saga of Tesla's "cybertruck" is unfolding as the electric car company begins delivering the much-anticipated vehicle to buyers. Four years after its infamous window-smashing debut, the initial issue has been addressed, but uncertainties loom over the unconventional design and its impact on the truck's success.

Elon Musk, Tesla's CEO, has expressed confidence in the cybertruck, describing it as potentially the company's "best product ever." However, during a recent discussion with Wall Street analysts, he emphasized the formidable challenges ahead in mass production and profitability.

"It is going to require immense work," Musk stated. "It's not a demand issue, but we have to make it, and we need to make it at a price that people can afford - insanely difficult things."

The truck, priced starting at around $61,000 (£48,320), comes with added complexities in manufacturing and costs due to its impressive features, according to Musk. He acknowledged, "We dug our own grave with the cybertruck."

Entering a market dominated by popular trucks in the US, Tesla faces challenges such as entering two years behind schedule and dealing with high-interest rates affecting consumer purchasing power. While Musk claims over one million reservations for the cybertruck, the conversion into actual sales remains uncertain.

Rivals like General Motors and Ford have adjusted their electric vehicle production plans amid market weakness, and Tesla's truck must now compete with new offerings from other companies.

Critics have raised concerns about the cybertruck's functionality compared to existing pickups. Stephanie Brinley from S&P Global Mobility noted, "For the majority of pickup truck buyers, functionality is what's going to win the day."

Despite the challenges, Tesla celebrated the first deliveries in Austin, Texas, showcasing the truck's hauling power and speed. Musk emphasized its practicality, stating, "It's an incredibly useful truck - it's not just some grandstanding showpiece."

However, the wait for interested buyers is considerable, with only about 10 trucks handed off initially. Musk projected that it would take until 2025 for Tesla to reach an annual production rate of 250,000 cybertrucks.

Huawei Expands Electric Car Tech Venture in China

Huawei, the renowned Chinese tech giant, is making significant strides in the competitive electric car market by extending its collaboration with four traditional automakers in China to develop new EV brands. The company is reinforcing its role as a tech supplier, emphasizing that it doesn't manufacture cars but instead focuses on providing tech components like its Harmony OS operating system and driver-assist features.

The recent partnership with Changan Automobile follows Huawei's existing ventures, such as the Avatr electric car brand created in 2018. The collaboration with Changan is a joint venture for car technology. Moreover, Huawei is actively engaged with Chery on the Luxeed electric car brand, unveiling details for its S7 sedan.

Notably, Huawei's collaboration strategy extends beyond Changan and Chery, with plans to partner with BAIC Motor and JAC Motor in the pipeline. Richard Yu, head of Huawei's car-related and consumer business, highlighted the willingness of Chinese automakers to leverage Huawei's tech prowess to enhance their products, particularly in areas where they might lack the necessary technological advancements.

Huawei's approach involves acting as a component supplier, selling a suite of car tech products labeled "Huawei Inside" while the automaker designs the vehicle, and taking greater control of the design, sales, and marketing of a "Huawei Inside" car while the automaker handles manufacturing.

This expansion into the electric vehicle market is a strategic move by Huawei, given the surge in popularity of new energy vehicles in China. Although Huawei's revenue from its consumer business has faced challenges, particularly due to restrictions imposed by the U.S., the company is capitalizing on its expertise by providing tech solutions for the rapidly growing EV market in China. The partnerships with various automakers underscore Huawei's commitment to becoming a key player in shaping the future of smart and technologically advanced electric vehicles.

EVs are far less reliable than gasoline vehicles as automakers launch new, high-tech models, Consumer Reports says

As automakers introduce advanced, high-tech electric vehicle (EV) models, Consumer Reports reveals that EVs exhibit considerably lower reliability compared to internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. The 2023 auto reliability survey from Consumer Reports indicates that EVs experienced 79% more issues than their gasoline counterparts. In contrast, hybrids emerged as the most reliable, showcasing 26% fewer problems than traditional gasoline-powered vehicles.

Toyota says, New Toyota 70 Series 4-cyl unaffected by DPF issues

Toyota assures that the new Toyota LandCruiser 70 Series four-cylinder is free from diesel particulate filter (DPF) issues that led to a class action against the company. Despite ongoing legal proceedings related to DPF problems in other models, Toyota Australia is confident in the resolution for the new 2.8-litre diesel engine in the 70 Series. The company implemented a DPF software update and manual override switch to address previous concerns. The new four-cylinder 70 Series, equipped with an automatic transmission, is priced from approximately $75,000 and aims to deliver reliable performance without DPF-related worries.