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We're set to record Autoblog Podcast #329 tonight, and you can drop us your questions and comments via our Q&A module below. Subscribe to the Autoblog Podcast in iTunes if you haven't already done so, and if you want to take it all in live, tune in to our UStream (audio only) channel at 10:00 PM Eastern tonight.
Discussion Topics for Autoblog Podcast Episode #329
Subcompact sales slump, yet again
Toyota has released a second teaser of its Hybrid-R Concept, along with an estimation of the show car's power output. Using technology that's "similar to that used by Toyota Racing's TS030 Hybrid race car," the concept is expected to deliver over 400 horsepower.
The press release also mentions that the new concept is based on a current production model. While it's difficult to tell from the sole teaser image of the car's body, rumors are flying that it's related to the Yaris. If that's the case, though, it's difficult to know what to make of this concept. The teaser image is quite dark, but we played around with the exposure and came up with an image that reveals more details about the new concept. Take a look at the related gallery, below, to see the high-exposure image. We'll find out for certain what the Hybrid-R is in a few weeks at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Let us know what you think Toyota's newest concept is in the comments.
The deaths of the Ford Crown Victoria and the Lincoln Town Car have meant overhauls of three high-profile American fleets: police, taxi and livery car. Just as police fleets are more open to considering other options and a Nissan van is the new face of the NYC taxi, livery car companies are looking at replacements for the Town Car beyond The Blue Oval. Ford, via Lincoln, has made an MKT Town Car (pictured), but an article in the Detroit News claims "it has failed to win over most of the big limousine companies." The upstarts trying to move in include livery and limo editions of the Cadillac XTS, and livery specifications of the Toyota Avalon and Chrysler 300.
Each of those challengers, however, faces challenges. The Town Car was a workhorse, American, rear-wheel-drive sedan with plenty of rear legroom. Cadillac has been in the livery space before but with decontented models that were about selling the brand, not its luxury. It is taking the opposite approach with the XTS, pointing out that its livery edition is "contented in the upper half of the XTS range." Still, the CEO of Michigan's largest livery company says "it's quite a bit smaller than what we're used to," and he also prefers rear-wheel drive.
The Chrysler 300 is rear-wheel drive, and American, which matters to some companies, but Chrysler hasn't yet revealed the livery package for it. The livery Avalon marks Toyota's first time getting into that business in the US, a natural step after having done so well with taxi clients and with the Town Car out of the way. Still, the livery client is a different to taxi buyers, so the Avalon could face other soft-touch hurdles.