Easthampton, Massachusetts, United States
Okay, folks - it appears we've got a problem. The Toyota GT86, Europe's counterpart to our own beloved Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S coupes, is apparently not selling too well. This, according to Toyota's European Vice President of Research and Development, Gerald Killman, is what's limiting plans for additional variants of the rear-drive coupe.
"A faster version of that car would be at the top of most people's wish lists, but like the cabriolet, it is hard to justify a business case to push either model into production based on the current sales," Killman told AutoExpress. "Personally, I think that engine could use a little bit more," he added.
More troubling is that slow sales aren't limited to the Euro-spec car, with Killman claiming that the GT86 have been missing sales targets in major markets around the globe. It may not be that the US is one of those major markets, though. Scion's Vice President, Doug Murtha, tells Autoblog that his brand is happy with the sales of its version of the GT86, the FR-S. 18,000 units were sold last year, which Murtha says is "generally in line with original expectations for the car."
Volkswagen isn't the only automaker with high-profile unionization efforts afoot at one of its North American factories. Unifor, Canada's largest private-sector union, is attempting to organize Toyota's factories in Ontario, reports Reuters. A vote was originally set for next week, but Unifor has apparently found more workers eligible to vote, delaying the proceedings. It hasn't rescheduled the ballot yet, but claims there are 7,500 employees with the right to vote, with over 3,000 having already signed union cards.
Toyota is pushing against organizing, saying that workers already have a payment and benefits near the top of the industry, and noting that it has never laid off a permanent employee in Canada. Unifor has reportedly countered by saying that about a quarter of the workforce is operating under a temporary contract, which receives lower benefits.
The automaker has three factories in Ontario - two in Cambridge and one in Woodstock. To form a union, a majority of eligible employees must vote to join Unifor. If successful, they would be the first wholly owned Toyota plants in North America to be organized. Previous attempts to unionize the Japanese automaker's Canadian factories in 2001 and 2008 failed due to lack of support.
The Lexus GX and the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado, which isn't sold in the US, have gone without visual updates since the current generation was launched in 2009. But what appear to be patent filing sketches and pictures of the sibling sports utility vehicles' mid-cycle updates have been leaked on a Russian Land Cruiser Club forum.
Major changes to the GX's front end will be made to incorporate Lexus' signature grille. Gone are the awkwardly shaped headlamps and the soft-looking triple-slat grille. The sketch shows the Lexus with a new bumper, lower-profile headlights and a more aggressive, angular grille with one more slat and a gaping lower air-intake opening. The vehicle's profile looks unchanged, but the rear bumper will be reshaped slightly to fit new, better-integrated horizontal reflectors.
The Toyota gets a handful of styling updates as well, including a new front bumper with higher-profile headlamps that look a bit out of place to us. The Prado's profile also looks unchanged, but the rear end gets restyled taillights and a reshaped license-plate enclosure.