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Auto blogMon, 11 Nov 2013 15:02:00 EST
Toyota Motorsport GmbH has developed cars for all manner of racing, up to and including Formula One and Le Mans. But it got its start back in 1979 in rally competition, winning four drivers' and three manufacturers' titles in the World Rally Championship. And now it's announced a new rally car.
Based on the Toyota GT86 (better known to us as the Scion FR-S), the CS-R3 rally car isn't built to contest the top tier of the WRC, but is being developed to conform to the lower R3 class. That means a six-speed sequential gearbox, limited slip differential and upgraded engine, brakes, aero... the works. It'll retain the road-going model's rear-drive setup, joining the front-drive Yaris R1A in TMG's portfolio of customer rally cars.
Further details are set to be revealed "in the coming months", but the GT86 CS-R3 will benefit from the experience TMG accrued in developing the GT86 CS-V3 (pictured above) for the Nürburgring-based VLN endurance racing series.
The 2011 earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan took quite the toll on the automotive industry in that nation. Not content to lean on that tragedy as excuse for slagging sales, the Japanese automakers are planning on a major production expansion in North America. The aim is to reclaim the market share lost from the Tsunami-based dip, and overcome a dollar/yen exchange rate that makes exporting to America unprofitable.
Following the Tsunami, Japanese automakers ramped up production in their North American facilities to compensate, but according to Automotive News, Nissan, Honda and others have all reported plans for still-further increased production in the year ahead. As part of this ramp-up, Mazda will open a facility in Salamnca, Mexico before March of 2014. Part of that increase in output is 50,000 units of a Toyota-badged compact car, which Mazda will produce.
Other Mexican production facilities opening include a Honda plant, which will open in Spring 2014 in Celaya, and a Nissan plant, set to open later this year in Aguascalientes. Nissan also said that it will need another plant in North America within the next five years. According to Nissan Boss Carlos Ghosn, the company aims to raise its stake in the US market from 8 percent to 10, and adding production will help achieve that goal. Even Mitsubishi is aiming to boost production at its Normal, Illinois plant. Production of the Outlander Sport is currently at 50,000, which Mitsubishi wants to raise to 70,000.
Toyota found huge success with its "Swagger Wagon" rap video for the 2011 Sienna SE. It showed that a minivan could actually sort of maybe be fun and didn't have to be a lame vehicle for people who long ago lost their sense of humor. Now that there is a slight refresh for the 2015 model, the company is trying to capture that effervescent image again with a bunch of videos aimed at families.
For the latest launch, Toyota is partnering with some family-friendly online video stars and having them show off the Sienna's features. It's releasing YouTube videos from the creators of Action Movie Kid and Convos with My 2-Year-Old and a Vine from Eh Bee Family, and they all hope to show that it's cool to be a family with a minivan.
In terms of actual changes, though, the update is pretty light aesthetically, but the new tech inside seems aimed directly at mom and dad. However, unless you've got a sharp eye, spotting the exterior refresh might be tough. Toyota is tweaking the front end slightly by adding a dark mesh grille and trim. The headlights are also slightly reshaped to incorporate a new strip of available LED running lights.