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Auto blogWed, 24 Apr 2013 13:29:00 EST
Not to be outdone by the Renault Twin'Z concept penned by Welsh designer Ross Lovegrove, Toyota has partnered up with French designer Jean-Marie Massaud to create the 2013 Toyota Me.We Concept. Unveiled at Le Rendez-vous Toyota in Paris, the Me.We Concept is an attempt to imagine a car that can be appreciated by owners across a wide variety of lifestyles while being courteous to the environment, too.
From a "Me" perspective, the concept is highly customizable with removable body panels, and even though it might look like just a small hatchback from the outside, Toyota claims it can also be used as a pickup (with an extendable rear panel), a convertible (with a neoprene roof panel) and even an off-road vehicle. As for the "We" part of the car, it's a fully electric vehicle with individual in-wheel motors and a battery pack mounted under the load floor. The concept has a weight of around 1,600 pounds kept low thanks to an aluminum chassis, but it also features renewable bamboo wood for the floor in addition to the fully recyclable polypropylene exterior body panels. Scroll down to see more in an official video and to check out Toyota's official press release.
With Ford and General Motors both announcing an end to production in Australia, the country's auto industry is in a bad way. With the exit of two big players, there's increased concern that a third Australian manufacturer, Toyota, will be forced out, as well.
"We are saddened to learn of GM Holden's decision. This will place unprecedented pressure on the local supplier network and our ability to build cars in Australia," Toyota Australia said in a statement. The GM closure of Holden production will be the direct end to 2,900 jobs, but will also force a dramatic reduction in the size of the country's supplier network, as there will simply be fewer cars to build.
In the same statement, Toyota Australia said it would work with suppliers and local government to figure out whether continuing production Down Under was even feasible. According to Automotive News, a representative for the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union told reporters it was "highly likely" that Toyota would also close up shop within the next few years.
Toyota's sales seem to have rebounded from the unintended acceleration issues from 2009 and 2010, but the automaker is far from done dealing with this situation. Following a settlement worth up to $1.4 billion for economic loss to affected vehicle owners, Toyota has settled rather than going to trial in a wrongful death lawsuit stemming from an accident in Utah in 2010 that left two passengers dead. This isn't the first case in which Toyota has settled, but it was the first among a consolidated group of cases being held in Santa Ana, CA.
According to The Detroit News, this case was scheduled to take place next month, and it was for a November 2010 incident in which Paul Van Alfen and Charlene James Lloyd were killed in a Camry when, based on findings by the Utah Highway Patrol, the accelerator got stuck causing the car to speed out of control and hit a wall; the terms of the settlement were not announced.
The article says that while Toyota will settle on some cases, it doesn't plan on settling on all of them as it still wants to be able to "defend [its] product at trial." This will probably be the case in suits claiming that software for the drive-by-wire accelerator was the cause of an accident in a Toyota or Lexus vehicle. The question of whether or not the electronic accelerator played any role in this problem has been a hot-button topic since the beginning. Toyota has issued recalls in the past to attempt to prevent unintended acceleration caused by trapped floor mats and faulty accelerator pedals, but it also says driver error was to blame in some instances.