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Cosworth announces Power Packages for Subaru BRZ, Scion FR-S with up to 380 hp [w/video]

Sat, 31 May 2014 12:59:00 EST

Cosworth stands on the list of the most famous engine tuners in the world with its DFV engine engine dominating Formula One for a time in the '70s. So when it teases plans to take on the FA20 engine from Subaru and Toyota found in the BRZ, Scion FR-S and Toyota GT86 abroad, our interest is indeed piqued. Cosworth is promising to take the 2.0-liter, four-cylinder boxer engine from its current 200 horsepower all the way to 325 hp and even 380 hp in a future track version through a series of staged Power Packages. At the moment, only the first stage is available that takes the mill to a potent 230 hp.
Cosworth says that its new strategy is to offer its upgrades in kits rather than individually so that it can be sure that everything works and fits when owners receive it. The Stage 1 Power Package emphasizes helping the FA20 breathe better and includes a nearly complete replacement for the stock exhaust system. There is a sports exhaust with four-inch, diagonally cut, polished tips and Y-shaped muffler, an overpipe front pipe with a spherical resonator and a new manifold header that is 22 percent lighter the standard unit. In addition to that, the kit comes with a software reflash, low temperature thermostat, Cosworth badge and plaque.
The stage one kit is available now, and stages two and three go on sale later this summer, according to its website. Autoblog contacted Cosworth for pricing information for the kits. We will update this story, if we hear back. The company also released a video showing off the exhaust upgrades. Scroll down to watch it and read the full release, below.

Toyota mints 10-millionth vehicle in Kentucky

Fri, 30 May 2014 08:44:00 EST

In 26 years, from 1988 up to now, the Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky plant in Georgetown has built ten million vehicles - nearly enough for every citizen of Seoul, Korea or the nation of Hungary. The first car to roll off the line back when the claymation California Raisins were singing old Marvin Gaye hits and everybody wanted to know Who Framed Roger Rabbit? was a white Camry. The ten-millionth car to roll off the line among the Avalons and Venzas also produced there: a white Camry Hybrid.
Toyota has put $5.9 billion into the site since its inception, employment is up to 7,000 associates and will grow when Lexus ES350 assembly begins next year. Whereas car number one is a showpiece for the ages, one of the automaker's current associates will get to win the ten-millionth car in a blind drawing to be held this summer.
There's a press release below with more information on the impressive milestone.

Toyota's Lentz says fuel cells are the future, not EVs

Sun, 25 May 2014 18:51:00 EST

Toyota is not bullish on EVs. That comes from the company's North American CEO, Jim Lentz, who said the company will focus not on electrification, but on continued hybridization with a long-term focus on hydrogen fuel cells.
Lentz questioned the long-range ability of EVs, saying that Toyota feels "there are better alternatives, such as hybrids and plug-in hybrids, and tomorrow with fuel cells." Lentz spoke about Toyota's focus on hydrogen following Forbes Brainstorm Green conference and barely a week after a battery deal between Tesla and Toyota ended, according to Automotive News.
That deal provided for 2,500 battery packs for the Rav4 EV. While valuable to Toyota, the deal "was never about open-ended volume," Lentz said. "It was time to either continue or stop. My personal feeling was that I would rather invest my dollars in fuel cell development than in another 2,500 EVs."

Toyota, Honda, Nissan and more collaborating to increase fuel efficiency

Sun, 25 May 2014 16:31:00 EST

Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru, Mitsubishi, Suzuki and Daihatsu have announced an alliance that will see a push to improve fuel economy from both gas-powered and diesel-powered engines by as much as 30 percent before the end of the decade.
The newly assembled Research Association of Automotive Internal Combustion Engines put the roughly $20-million project together, with the Japanese government committing to half the cost while the eight manufacturers will chip in the rest.
According to Automotive News, the automakers will team up and share basic research on internal-combustion engines in a bid to cut costs. Eventually, the results of the research will find its way into a production vehicle, although it's unclear just when we'll see the fruits of this partnership on the road.

Toyota recalls 370k Sienna minivans, 10.5k Lexus GS models over separate issues

Thu, 22 May 2014 15:44:00 EST

The year of the recall continues, but this time it isn't from General Motors. Toyota is announcing two, separate recalls affecting a pair of its models.
First, Toyota is recalling 370,000 Sienna minivans from the 2004 to 2011 model years that are registered or originally sold in cold-weather states. The problem is that the spare tire carrier assembly cable can be splashed by water contaminated with road salt and cause corrosion. There is a splashguard in place to prevent this, but it sometimes gets lost in "normal usage," according to the company. If the cable does break, then "the spare tire may separate from the vehicle."
This is actually the second repair for this problem for some of these vehicles. In 2010, Toyota issued a recall on 600,000 Siennas from the 1998 to 2010 model years. At the time, it installed a new splashguard and sprayed the area with an anti-rust chemical. However, according to Toyota spokesperson John Hanson speaking to Autoblog, the campaign worked for the 1998 to 2003 models but wasn't sufficient for the newer ones. For the latest recall, the vehicles are getting the entire cable replaced with a stainless steel unit and a new splashguard.

180,000 new vehicles are sitting, derailed by lack of transport trains

Wed, 21 May 2014 11:00:00 EST

If you're planning on buying a new car in the next month or so, you might want to pick from what's on the lot, because there could be a long wait for new vehicles from the factory. Locomotives continue to be in short supply in North America, and that's causing major delays for automakers trying to move assembled cars.
According to The Detroit News, there are about 180,000 new vehicles waiting to be transported by rail in North America at the moment. In a normal year, it would be about 69,000. The complications have been industry-wide. Toyota, General Motors, Honda and Ford all reported experiencing some delays, and Chrysler recently had hundreds of minivans sitting on the Detroit waterfront waiting to be shipped out.
The problem is twofold for automakers. First, the fracking boom in the Bakken oil field in the Plains and Canada is monopolizing many locomotives. Second, the long, harsh winter is still causing major delays in freight train travel. The bad weather forced trains to slow down and carry less weight, which caused a backup of goods to transport. The auto companies resorted to moving some vehicles by truck, which was a less efficient but necessary option.

New Toyota semiconductors could increase hybrid fuel efficiency by 10%

Wed, 21 May 2014 10:15:00 EST

Toyota may have an ace up its sleeve in the fuel economy wars, as it's developed a new type of semiconductor that will allegedly help the company's hybrids net a ten-percent improvement in fuel economy.
The tech is still in development, although Toyota is already reporting five-percent gains during testing, six years before it plans to implement the new semiconductor in production vehicles, meaning the ten-percent improvement doesn't seem like an untenable goal. That is, until you hear from Kimimori Hamada, the project general manager of Toyota's electronics division.
"We are aiming for great improvement in fuel economy and miniaturization," Hamada told Automotive News. "This is a very challenging target."

Cosworth teases upgrades for Subaru BRZ

Mon, 19 May 2014 13:28:00 EST

Subaru may or may not produce an STI version of the BRZ. Things seem to go back and forth on the subject. But Subaru Tecnica International isn't the only company with a history of tuning Subies. So does Cosworth, and now the British racing firm appears to be turning its attention to the BRZ and its Toyota- and Scion-badged siblings.
For those unacquainted, Cosworth is more than your average tuning company. It's a racing firm first and foremost, having made F1 engines under its own name as well as Ford's (chief among them the all-conquering DFV 3.0-liter V8 of 1960s and 70s fame), not to mention engines for Indy, rally and even high-performance, road-going versions of the Ford Sierra, Chevy Vega and Mercedes 190E. The list goes on and on, but you get the point.
Now withdrawing from Formula One, Cosworth is focusing its attention on tuning road cars again with the launch of the Cosworth Power Package line, the first of which will focus on the Toyota GT86 (aka Scion FR-S) and Subaru BRZ. We don't know just yet what will be included in the packaged dubbed FA-20, but from the video teaser below, it seems there'll be upgrades to the exhaust, suspension, aero and - if we're lucky - maybe a super- or turbocharger for the 2.0-liter flat-four engine. We'll have to wait and see, but we get the feeling that with Cosworth on the job, it'll be worth the wait. Check out the minute-long video below in the meantime.

Tesla now California's top automotive employer

Fri, 16 May 2014 19:00:00 EST

Tesla has knocked off Toyota as the biggest auto employer in the state of California, employing over 6,000 people to the Japanese company's 5,300. That lead is only likely to grow, as the EV manufacturer prepares to add another 500 jobs by the end of the year, and as Toyota begins its relocation to its new North American headquarters in Texas. The news comes barely a week after the company announced a $50 million loss during the first quarter of 2014.
Tesla's statewide employment could be set to double, beyond even 6,500 people, if it follows through on rumors to construct its eagerly awaited gigafactory in the Golden State. The $5-billion venture could add another 6,500 employees, making Tesla not just the largest automotive employer in the state, but making it one of the largest employers in the state full stop.
The investment of Tesla and its founder (and real-life Tony Stark), Elon Musk, has been substantial. The company has added 3,000 employees in the state since 2013, reopening the Toyota and General Motors joint-venture factory that use to be known as NUMMI in 2009 and constructing a design studio in Los Angeles, all in addition to its Palo Alto headquarters.

Toyota's Texas move could boost state's economy by $7.2B in 10 years

Thu, 15 May 2014 18:00:00 EST

They say everything is bigger in Texas, and apparently that includes the Toyota's effect on the economy. The giant Japanese automaker's new headquarters in Plano, TX, will add an estimated $7.2 billion to the state over the next 10 years, according to a new study commissioned by the city and cited by Bloomberg.
The benefits appear to be an absolute steal compared to the direct incentives that Plano and the state are giving Toyota. The report finds that by the time the automaker's campus is complete in 2018, it could have 3,650 full-time workers there at an average salary of $104,000. The city has prepared $6.75 million in grants, plus property tax discounts, according to Bloomberg. In addition to that, the state is offering the business $40 million in incentives from its Texas Enterprise Fund. This is still a fraction of what Toyota is estimated to bring in.
Toyota announced in April that it would move its US operations to Plano after being headquartered in California since 1957. The move affects thousands of employees from the sales and engineering divisions. The first workers will arrive there this fall, but Toyota will eventually have a whole campus in Plano by late 2017. The move is expected to save it huge amounts in taxation and offer employees a lower cost of living. Toyota North America CEO Jim Lentz also says that the Texas location puts the headquarters closer to more of the business' factories in the south. Texas certainly appears to be showing it some southern hospitality.