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Auto blogTue, 08 Jan 2013 18:00:00 EST
While Google and Audi explore the possibilities of autonomous vehicles, Toyota and its Lexus division are studying the intermediate step of vehicles equipped with a deep suite of technology that help drivers make the best decisions. Introduced at this week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the Lexus advanced safety research vehicle is an LS sedan fitted with three high-def color cameras to detect objects up to almost 500 feet away, 360-degree Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) lasers that can detect objects up to 220 feet away, three radar units to keep track of other vehicles at intersections, a precision odometer on the rear wheel, GPS that estimates orientation and an accelerometer.
Currently testing at a purpose-built 8.6 acre urban testing ground at the Higashi-Fuji Technical Center in Susono, Japan the Toyota research vehicle is being used to study how to make better drivers, as well as figuring out how to reduce crashes as the industry's journey through passive and active safety systems progresses. In the event of a crash, new rescue systems are also being tested.
Further investment is being put into the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) that would use shortwave signals to harness information from the car and from other vehicles on the road, as well as roadside infrastructure and even pedestrians. Toyota reasons it could then build a picture of interactions and, for instance, alert the driver to a potential collision at a blind intersection.
There is more bad news for the Australian auto industry today, as Toyota has just announced that it will follow General Motors and Ford in shuttering its manufacturing operations on the continent. Production and assembly will cease by the end of 2017, but Toyota will remain in Australia as a sales and distribution company.
"We did everything that we could to transform our business, but the reality is that there are too many factors beyond our control that make it unviable to build cars in Australia," said Toyota Australia President and CEO Max Yasuda.
In an official statement, Yasuda said that the closure would directly affect 2,500 manufacturing employees and an unknown number of corporate workers. However, a report in the Australian newspaper The Age suggests that the jobs of 24,000 workers at Australian auto suppliers could also be in jeopardy. Toyota currently builds its Camry, Camry Hybrid, Aurion sedans in Australia, along with four-cylinder engines, and it plans to begin importing the Camry and Aurion after production stops.
Toyota has announced pricing details for its refreshed 2014 Tundra, with the fullsize pickup offered in five grades. Naturally, that doesn't include the buyer's choice of three cab styles, the option of two- or four-wheel drive, and a choice of a 4.0-liter V6 base engine or 4.6-liter and 5.7-liter V8s.
The base SR starts at $25,920, while the volume SR5 model starts at $29,465. Toyota notes that all SR5s ordered with the big V8 hold the line on pricing from 2013 while including a further $650 in standard equipment. The first of three high-end trims, Limited, starts at $36,940, while the Platinum and 1794 Edition both start at $44,270, with all prices subject to a $995 destination charge. Also noteworthy on the cost-savings front, Limited CrewMax 4x4 models are priced $2,000 less than their 2013 equivalents, (4x2 buyers save $1,900).
As is typical for a model as as customizable as a pickup, Toyota's pricing structure is far from simple. Adding the 5.7-liter V8 at one trim level can cost several hundred dollars more or less than another trim level - the same goes for adding four-wheel drive. So, rather than break out the Enigma Machine to try and decipher what options cost what on which trim, we've just rolled the whole pricing chart in. Scroll down for a look, including Toyota's full press release, and then check out our recent First Drive feature of the truck.