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Auto blogTue, 04 Jun 2013 18:29:00 EST
In the wake of last month's announcement that Ford will cease automotive and engine production in Australia after 2016, many are wondering what the country's other automakers will do. Holden has already confirmed it will stay the course despite Ford's exit.
Much of the GM subsidiary's reason for sticking around has to do with a deal made last year between Holden and the Australian government. In order to secure a GM investment of $1 billion and a commitment to keep manufacturing in Australia through 2022, the government threw in an extra $215 million. According to Australia's Minister for Innovation and Industry, Greg Combet, the government is now in talks with Toyota for a similar deal.
Toyota operates one plant in Australia, the Altona manufacturing and engine plant in Victoria. The facility produces the Camry, Camry Hybrid and Australasia-only Aurion for both the local market and export. The report from GoAuto indicates that negotiations with the Australian government would include adding production of a third, all-new model at Altona, possibly the new RAV4, because it shares many parts with the Camry.
The third practice day of the 91st Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is done. While the other classes got running time on the middle and top sections of the course, qualifying times were set on the bottom section of the course for the Open, Open Wheel, Electric, Exhibition and Vintage classes.
Everyone managed to keep it on the black stuff today, Greg Tracy setting the fastest time ahead of Hiroshi Masuoka, both men driving the Mitsubishi MiEV Evolution II four-wheel-drive prototype. Not even half a second behind Masuoka came Nobuhiro "Monster" Tajima in his Monster Sport E-Runner, who has taken about 18 seconds off his time since the first practice day. Rod Millen was the fourth fastest on the day in his Toyota TMG EV POO2.
Topping the Open Wheel class was Clint Vahsholtz, followed by Donner Billingsley, Andy Figueroa and Rodney O'Maley. The only driver in that class not to be given a time today was Dan Novembre. Kenshiro Gushi took the Exhibition class today as his Lexus IS F CCS-R made it up the mountain in 4:27.248, followed by Sage Marie in the Honda CR-Z at 5:19.591. Simon Pagenaud and his Honda Odyssey weren't classified.
Toyota is one of the largest automakers in the world, but it's not content simply building and selling conventional cars - it's been at the forefront of numerous advancements in ground transportation. It is widely credited with advancing the cause of hybrid propulsion, and alongside Audi and Google, is among the first automakers seriously testing self-driving cars. We could go on, but the news here is that Toyota is reportedly developing vehicles that hover above the road surface instead of rolling along it.
The news comes from Hiroyoshi Yoshiki, one of Toyota's tech gurus, who revealed at Bloomberg's Next Big Thing summer in San Francisco that the company is working on hovering cars - ones that travel just above the road surface, but don't actually fly in three-dimension space.
According to The Verge, a spin-off of our own sister-site Engadget, Yoshiki refused to elaborate on what the project entails and how far along it is. He was speaking along acting NHTSA chief David Friedman, who lauded such advancements as a "great taste of innovations to come," but stressed the significance of more concrete improvements to conventional automobiles - like inter-car communications to keep vehicles from colliding on the highway - as more relevant to today's industry.