While the Toyota
The in-car tech revolution continues
The agreements, resembling deals Google has with Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Garmin
This isn't exactly revolutionary technology -- Google started this program about three years ago, and Ford (among others) already has similar deals in place with MapQuest -- but it is one more sign that advanced in-car "infotainment" has gone from being a luxury-car specialty to, increasingly, a key differentiator in the automotive mass market.
I'm wondering if and when Microsoft
Honda bets on hybrids
Many auto watchers, including yours truly, have long waited for Honda
Renewed signs of life emerged this week, however, as The Nikkei reported that Honda would resume construction of a major manufacturing plant set to build a new generation of hybrid Hondas. The factory in Yorii, northwest of Tokyo, will focus on new technology intended for the manufacturer's larger vehicles, according to the report.
Honda, after much dithering with "clean" diesel and other technologies, finally seems to be following other major automakers in placing most of its green focus on hybrid and electric powertrains. Is this a sign that Honda is -- finally -- getting back to the focus on innovation that built its global reputation? It's a welcome first step, but we'll have to wait and see.
Toyota and Tesla get down to business
In last week's "Autos Weekly," I noted that Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda had just revealed that the company was working on an electric-vehicle prototype powered by a Tesla Motors
That story has been fleshed out considerably since, and it now appears that the companies have already developed a prototype of a Tesla-powered version of Toyota's popular RAV4 SUV. Tesla has agreed to produce a fleet of electrified RAV4 prototypes by the end of this year, the two companies announced on Friday, with an aim to have a production version of the vehicle on sale in the U.S. in 2012.
For those (including yours truly) who have pooh-poohed Tesla's chances of success, this development is worth watching closely. That fleet of prototypes will in all likelihood be subjected to Toyota's extensive real-world testing program, a harsh challenge compared with the kid-glove treatment that most of Tesla's Roadsters have received in the real world. If the Tesla powertrains' range and durability outperform Toyota's existing technologies, the Silicon Valley upstart could end up with a lucrative long-term opportunity. Keep an eye on this one.
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