Last November Toyota announced a $240-million investment in its plant in Buffalo, West Virginia, its only combined engine and transmission plant in North America. The monies will be invested in a production line for hybrid transaxles.
And today the company announced that it was adding an additional $73-million to its spend for not only more hybrid transaxle production but to assembly rear motor stators.
All of which is to say that Toyota is amping up its spend on hybrid vehicle production capacity.
In addition, it is spending $17 million at its Toyota Motor Manufacturing Tennessee plant for casting hybrid transaxle cases and housings.
Last December Toyota announced that it would be launching 30 battery electric vehicles globally by 2030, which would represent sales of 3.5-million EVs per year.
Then it would, by 2035, have 100% of its global vehicle sales be EVs by 2035.
However, between now and then there will evidently be more hybrids available at Toyota and Lexus dealers in the U.S.
A wide-ranging discussion that’s concentrated on pickups
By Gary S. Vasilash
Although “essential courage” may sound a bit exaggerated when it comes to the design theme for a vehicle, Scott Anderson, design manager at Ford, explains how that term describes what the team did in developing the design of the 2022 Ford Maverick—the interior design, in particular.
The Maverick is a compact truck. Unibody, not body-on-frame, like its sibs, the Ranger and the F-150.
While those two vehicles are designed and engineered primarily for those who are focused on, primarily, vocational uses (OK: there are plenty of people who buy pickups and never use the beds for anything beyond groceries or Christmas trees), the Maverick is designed and engineered mainly for urban dwellers who like to do recreational things (the Maverick can tow 4,000 pounds: like a small trailer) and whose recreation may include making things, not only with sheet metal and 2x4s, but also 3D printers.
It is a different proposition.
One of the things to know about the Maverick is that in the base model, which has a starting MSRP of $19,995, has a hybrid powertrain.
And as has long been the argument by some OEMs that have not gone the hybrid route, the nature of that, which combines an internal combustion engine (in this case a 162-hp 2.5-liter four) and an electric motor and battery (all in for the Maverick: 191 hp), hybrid powertrains are more expensive than, say, a 162-hp 2.5-liter four all by itself.
But the base Maverick is a hybrid and the base Maverick starts at under $20K.
And because it is a truck and because Ford has a lot riding on its reputation of building trucks (i.e., “Built Ford Tough”), there could be no skimping on the engineering of the Maverick.
So no surprise they had to do some things differently on developing and executing the interior.
For one thing, Anderson says, they decided that they would be honest about the use of plastic. They wouldn’t make it appear as though the material is something that it isn’t—but at the same time, they made it appear, through color and texture choice, as something both interesting and fit-for-purpose.
In addition, they did lots of observation about how people use their interiors, including storing objects of various sizes and configurations and so make the means to accommodate them, even if it meant things, as in the case of the front arm rests, are not what is typical: the front arm rests are truncated so as to make it more convenient to have large water bottles in the map pocket below.
So there is the essential part. And the guts, because when you decide that fasteners, for example, are going to be part of the design, not something hidden (often in a half-assed manner), then you’ve got to stand up for it.
Anderson talks about all this and more on this edition of “Autoline After Hours” with Rain Noe of Core77, freelance writer Mark Williams and me.
In addition, Noe, Williams and I discuss the coming onslaught of electric trucks, including the F-150 Lightning, the Rivian R1T, the HUMMER EV pickup, the Bollinger B2, the Silverado electric, the Tesla Cybertruck, and the Lordstown Endurance.