Toyota Re-Enters LeMans Racing With TS030 Hybrid LMP1 Racer

Toyota has generated an incredible audience by competing in NASCAR in the United States, and looks to re-enter the high-speed, high-profile LeMans Series, one of the biggest racing leagues in the world. It will be Toyota’s comeback after leaving the Series in the 1990′s. And to make a statement, the team will be racing in the LMP1 class against the likes of Audi with its TS030 Hybrid LMP1 race car. Yes, it’s a hybrid, and through racing, Toyota will be using the TSo30 as a test bed to research cutting edge hybrid driving technology. That includes the grueling 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race in France.

Toyota is the first manufacturer to confirm its participation in the FIA World Endurance Championship using a hybrid system, emphasising the pioneering approach to this technology which has seen more than 3.5 million Toyota hybrid vehicles sold worldwide.

“Toyota has been working on hybrid systems for motorsport for several years, during which time we have made huge progress,” said Hisatake Murata, Hybrid Project Leader for the TS030. ”Now we feel ready to bring our technology to the ultimate motorsport test: the Le Mans 24 Hours. Integrating a hybrid powertrain is, of course, a different challenge compared to a ‘standard’ powertrain. But we have worked together with partners such as DENSO, Aisin AW and Nisshinbo to develop the THS-R technology so it is part of the overall concept of the TS030 HYBRID. This technology will be used to recover up to 500kJ between braking events, energy which can be released via either front or rear motors to deliver a performance advantage. Toyota’s hybrid technology has already won a 24-hour race – the Tokachi 24 Hours in 2007 – so now we are bringing the latest THS-R development to global motorsport; we know this is a technically-demanding exercise but we are well prepared for the challenge.”

Official partners to the Toyota Racing programme include ZENT, Aisin, Nippon Steel, Takata, Toyoda Gosei and Michelin. Driving the pair of TS030 Hybrids will be several drivers with Formula 1 racing experience, including Alex Wurz and Kazuki Nakajima along with Nicolas Lapierre. And recently announced, F1 veterans  Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi are on the roster for the second car.

The new team, which is based at Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) in Cologne, Germany, will make its race debut on 5 May in the Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, the second round of the FIA World Endurance Championship. Have a look at the vehicle specifications of the new race car with the table provided below.

Toyota TS030 Hybrid specifications

Toyota Produced 1,255,635 Vehicles In North America During 2011

After a tragic year in Japan and a strain on the parts supply chain, Toyota still managed to find a way to produce over 1.25 million vehicles and 1.14 million engines in North America alone, along with completing three major expansion projects in the United States.

In total, Toyota produces 12 models in North America: Avalon, Camry, Corolla, Highlander, Matrix, RAV4, Sequoia, Sienna, Tacoma, Tundra, Lexus RX350 and Venza. What’s more, the following United States expansion projects were completed in 2011:

  • Toyota Motor Manufacturing, West Virginia completed an expansion resulting in increased 6 speed automatic transmission production bringing the plant’s total employment to approximately 1,100.
  • Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Alabama began 4-cylinder engine production in the fall, resulting in 240 new jobs.
  • Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Mississippi began Corolla production in the fall, adding 2,000 jobs.

Looking forward, Toyota expects to assemble its 25 millionth vehicle in North America this year (2012), and will begin producing its all-electric RAV4 at its Woodstock, Ontario facility.

Broken down, we notice that Toyota’s manufacturing site in Kentucky produced the most vehicles in the United States with 371,694 units produced, over half of which were Camrys. Toyota’s Indiana plant put in a lot of work as well, producing just under 244,000 units, many of which were Sienna minivans. However, it was Toyota Manufacturing of Canada with the top number, producing 458,729 units, nearly all of which were Corolla sedans and RAV4 crossovers. Also of note is Toyota’s Virginia engine plant, which produced nearly half a million four and six cylinder engines. Kentucky was just under, producing over 415,000 four and six cylinder engines.

2012 Toyota Tacoma Wins Pickuptrucks.com Midsized Truck Shootout

When it comes to the midsized pickup truck market, there’s one and only one name that completely dominates the segment. That name is the Toyota Tacoma. And with major contenders like Ford withdrawing from the niche, the Tacoma begins to standout even more as a clear winner. But even though the Tacoma is the undisputed sales leader year in and year out, is the truck really that much better than the competition? It seems the expertise of Pickuptrucks.com has found an answer. The verdict: the Toyota Tacoma lives up to every ounce of its reputation as a dependable mid-sized truck, finding itself way ahead of the pack in off-road ruggedness and an overall standout in real-world performance.

Mark Williams, editor-in-chief of Pickuptrucks.com and his team pitted seven trucks in a free-for-all comparison test in multiple categories. They were the 2012 Chevy Colorado, 2011 Ford Ranger, 2012 GMC Canyon, 2012 Honda Ridgeline, 2012 Nissan Frontier, 2012 Suzuki Equator and 2012 Toyota Tacoma. The trucks were thrashed, beaten and bruised on the dynamo, on the drag strip, in the desert, and on the highway — all to find out which truck is worthy of winning the high-budget, high-stakes comparison test.

To begin with, let’s have a look at the Tacoma on paper. With a starting price of just $22,100-$29,900, depending on the model, this purpose-built truck can come with either a 2.7-liter inline-four cylinder gasoline engine that offers 159 horsepower. Fuel economy for this engine is rated at 10.0L/100 km in the city and 7.7L/100 km on the hwy. Upgrade to the 4.0L V6, and the output is bumped up to substantial 236 horsepower. Transmission offerings are diverse, with a 4-speed automatic, a 5-speed automatic, a 5-speed manual, and a 6-speed manual. Some rugged options include mud-guards, skid plates for the underbody, Hill Start Assist Control (HAC) and Downhill Assist Control (DAC). As a result, the Tacoma 372 points out of 400 in value judging and 142 points out of 160 in expert impressions as tallied by Williams and company. And while the Honda Ridgeline and Nissan Frontier came close to the Tacoma’s overall score of 514, the Toyota won outright.

Another defining element of the Shootout happened to be the unladen quarter-mile testing. The testers collected data from the trucks every 200 feet as the trucks paced as fast as they could down a quarter-mile drag strip. To nobody’s surprise, the Tacoma finished near the top again, crossing the finish line with a time of 16.43 seconds at 85.1 mph. It was second only to the Chevrolet Colorado, which was equipped with a less-fuel efficient V8 engine, edging the Toyota by less than a quarter of a second in quarter-mile acceleration. Also nearly identical between the Chevy and Toyota was 0-60 mph acceleration, at 8.12 and 8.17 seconds, respectively.

The PickupTrucks.com team then filled the beds of all the trucks with 40-pound bags of rock salt, until each truck had its Gross Vehicle Weight Rating maxed. Being that each truck had different capacities, each truck carried a different load. For the Tacoma, it was 22 40-pound bags.  It was the same story as before, with the Tacoma finishing just behind the V8-powered Chevy Colorado, accelerating from 0-60 in 9.27 seconds and crossing the quarter-mile finish in 17.18 seconds at 80.94 mph. But what’s the point of all that pep if the truck isn’t capable of stopping quickly? This is where the Tacoma stood out in a big way.

During empty testing, the Tacoma was the far-and-away winner, with an average stopping distance from 60-0 mph at 40.5 meters. The Honda Ridgeline finished a full 4.5 meters longer in second place, which ended well ahead of the rest of the pack, all in the 45s. During loaded stops, Toyota, once again was the standout winner with 43 meters, with the rest of the group bunching up over 3 and 5 meters longer.

While Toyota was a standout performer and a victor in the aforementioned testing, it might have been its off-road performance that stole the show. Toyota’s TRD off-road package ended up being the proverbial gun to a knife fight, scoring 50 out of 50 points in hill climbing, which was double that of the Honda and five points ahead of the Suzuki. The Tacoma scored a perfect 50/50 again in the off-road course, edging the Nissan and the Suzuki once again.

So no matter what the job calls for, the Toyota Tacoma seems to be the best tool in the box. PickupTrucks.com’s testing tells us so.