Toyota will finally resurrect the Supra in 2018

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HYPEBEAST/DesignBoom (by T.S. Fox):

Originally released as a Celica offshoot with 2000GT roots back in 1978, the Supra grew to become one of Toyota’s most beloved vehicles before it was unceremoniously discontinued back in 2002. Thankfully, Toyota righted that wrong in 2014, taking to the Detroit Auto Show to showcase the FT-1 — a Calty Design Research-crafted spiritual successor of sorts to the old fastback coupe and one that fans hoped signaled a sign of things to come for the much loved front-engine, rear-wheel drive setup. Now it looks like those Supra hopes may become a reality: Toyota has confirmed that it’s resurrecting the car for a return in just a few short years.

Said to build upon the aforementioned FT-1, the brand new Supra will be positioned above the 86 in the manufacturer’s lineup and will likely be decidedly more complex, powerful and high-tech than the rebadged Scion FR-S. And if the FT-1′s design language is any indication, the new and improved Supra will come with an aggressive, track-inspired exterior marked by airflow management systems and aerodynamic curves; it may even employ the FT-1′s sleek retractable rear wing for added downforce.

Stay tuned for updates on the Supra’s welcome return and mark your calendars: the fan-favorite Toyota returns to the road in 2018.

Toyota’s Tonka-inspired 4Runner concept truck

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A Toyota 4Runner has received aftermarket modifications courtesy of Funrise Toy Corporation, manufacturer of Tonka toys.

Currently on display at SEMA, the playful concept is a life-sized re-creation of the famed children’s line of toys. The inspired concept is wrapped in Tonka decals, using colors signature to the company. Helping to ensure that the vehicle performs as menacingly as it looks is a heavily modified suspension that lifts it by 10 inches. Other features include 20-inch Ultra Motorsports Type 250 Colossus wheels, a reinforced undercarriage, a 4.0-liter V6 engine that puts out 270 HP and 278 lb-ft of torque, and Bulletproof Suspensions-built bumpers, side steps and ladders.

Visit the Toyota display booth at the 2015 SEMA show to see the 4Runner concept up close.

Toyota’s S-FR entry-level sportscar concept makes its debut at the Tokyo Motor Show

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Toyota has steadily built a reputation for producing reliable cars at an affordable price and judging by this early preview, its latest entry-level sportscar concept seems to be no exception. Set to premier at the end of the month at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show, the S-FR is a lightweight model that provides an agile and responsive drive at a fairly low cost.
Equipped with a six-speed manual transmission, a simple interior outfitted with all the essentials, and a front-engine, rear-wheel drive layout, there was a rumor that a cheaper alternative to the GT86 was in the works and this new concept could very well be on the market by 2018.
Stay tuned for more updates on the Tokyo Motor Show.
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Lexus creates a fully drivable “origami inspired” cardboard car

To celebrate the skills of its craftspeople, Lexus has created a full-size, drivable cardboard replica of its IS sedan using 1,700 sheets of precision-cut cardboard. Each 10mm thick, the cardboard sheets had to be glued together by hand in sequence with a water-based wood glue, taking 10 minutes to set every time.

The project was carried out by LaserCut Works and Scales and Models using a digital 3D model of the sedan provided by Lexus, and took a total of three months to assemble. The cardboard replica was then mounted atop a steel and aluminum frame with an attached electric motor, thus allowing the car to be driven.

Seven cool things set to happen in Japan during 2015

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RocketNews 24 (by Casey Baseel):

If there’s one thing we know, it’s that you should always wash your hands after going to the bathroom. If there’re two things we know, though, the second is that you’ll never get anywhere in life being fixated on the past. So while 2014 was a pretty good year for us, we’re already looking to the year ahead, which is already promising seven cool happenings for Japan in 2015.

1. Opening of the new Shinkansen line

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Japan may have a reasonably priced overnight bus network and well-maintained highways, but there’s no denying that the quickest and most convenient way to get around the country is the Shinkansen. Currently, you can travel by bullet train from Tokyo to Nagano, but the new Hokuriku Line will allow travelers to extend their Shinkansen trips from Nagano all the way to coastal Kanazawa. So starting March 14, you’ll be able to zip on over to the capital of Ishikawa Prefecture in record time to enjoy its historic Kenrokuen Garden, delicious seafood, and, provided you’ve still got some yen left over, golden handicrafts.

2. First flight of the Mitsubishi Regional Jet

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If tertiary travel is too tedious for your rarified tastes, there’s also the maiden voyage of the MRJ coming up in 2015. Jointly developed by Mitsubishi, Toyota, and Fuji Heavy Industries (parent company of automaker Subaru), the MRJ is scheduled to take to the air for the first time this spring. Airlines won’t be receiving their own until 2017, but nonetheless, the upcoming test flight is a major step towards Japan’s first domestically produced airliner since the financial failure of Nihon Aircraft Manufacturing’s YS-11, which was discontinued over four decades ago.

3. Osaka’s Dotonbori Canal becomes a pool

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If you’ve spent much time looking at photos of Japanese cityscapes, odds are you’ve seen Dotonbori, Osaka’s neon-lit entertainment district that straddles the Dotonbori Canal. After years of revelers diving into the water after victories by the local Hanshin Tigers baseball team, someone decided they may as well make part of the canal into an outdoor pool, which is just what’s scheduled to happen to a one-kilometer (0.62-mile) section of it for four weeks in August of 2015.

4. The next, and possibly final, Evangelion movie

Creator Hideaki Anno has never been particularly decisive about putting a period on his masterwork, as evidenced by how Eva’s cash-strapped TV finale has already been followed by a half-dozen movies. Signs point to a late 2015 release for the fourth Rebuild of Evangelion theatrical feature, though, which has been billed as the culmination of 20 years’ worth of groundbreaking animation (those of you who can’t wait until the end of the year can whet your appetite with a teaser-style Eva short film right here).

5. So long, SIM locks!

Like topknots and the feudal system, SIM locks are set to become a thing of the past in Japan starting this May.

6. The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II

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2015 is also a good time to stop and take a moment to appreciate that Japan can get excited about developments in consumer electronics because it’s a country at peace, as it has been for the last 70 years.

7. Prince William visiting Japan

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Another thing that wouldn’t have been happening during open war between the U.K. and Japan, Prince William is scheduled to visit the country as part of a trip through Asia in late February.

A remarkably restored 1971 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ43

Originally started as a clone to the infamous Jeep construction during the Second World War, the Toyota Land Cruiser 4 x 4 went on to garner a reputation for being one of the industry’s toughest off-road vehicles. Having experienced many aesthetic and technological changes the Toyota Land Cruiser FJ43 forms part of the company’s better known vintage series and has since gained notable footing in the realm of collectible automotive products over the last twenty plus years.

Restored by The FJ Company, the FJ43 features an extended wheelbase, 3878cc OHV inline 6-cylinder engine and a pale blue color palette fitting to the dated aesthetic of its predecessors. Completed with a contrasting full-leather interior, detachable canvas canopy and chrome fittings, the 1971 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ43 is scheduled to be auctioned on August 14 with an expected price tag of between $80,000 and $100,000 USD – more information can be found directly at the Bonhams auction site.

Toyota redesigning Prius plug-in hybrid to double car’s all-electric range

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RocketNews 24:

Toyota’s Prius is designed for one purpose, and it’s not to deliver the sort of exciting performance that will seduce you into taking a spirited drive through a moonlit mountain pass (that’s another car’s job). No, the Prius promise is that it will get you from Point A to Point B in the most energy-efficient way possible.

But while the standard hybrid Prius remains a popular choice for eco-conscious motorists, sales of its plug-in variant have been stagnant. Toyota is hoping to change that, though, with an updated Prius that can travel roughly twice as far under purely electric power than the current model.

If you’re the kind of person who’s more familiar with the handling differences between front-wheel, rear-wheel, and all-wheel drive than what separates one class of hybrid from another, a brief refresher on just what constitutes a plug-in hybrid may be in order. Unlike a standard hybrid vehicle, the batteries in a plug-in hybrid can be charged directly by plugging the car into a socket. By allowing the car to run in either a purely electric mode or with the electric motor and gas engine working together, plug-in hybrids seek to combine the flexibility of a normal hybrid with the efficiency and lower emissions of an all-electric vehicle.

Toyota released its first plug-in Prius, called the Prius PHV, in January of 2012. Hoping to build on the strong brand awareness and reputation of the normal hybrid Prius, the company was expecting a similarly warm response for the newer, ostensibly more advanced version of the car.

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But while the Prius PHV sought to offer the advantages of both a hybrid and all-electric mode, it couldn’t deliver on the latter for very long. From a full charge, the current Prius PHV can only run 26.4 kilometers (16.4 miles) in full-electric mode before its batteries are drained, meaning that unless you’re headed someplace fairly close, you’re going to need to burn a little gas to get there and back.

Car buyers haven’t seen that as much of an advantage, especially considering that prices for the Prius PHV start at 2,931,429 yen (US$24,634), more than 30 percent more than the ordinary Prius hybrid, which is priced from 2,232,000 yen. The end result is lackluster sales numbers, and three years and three months after its launch, Toyota has only found some 20,000 buyers for the Prius PHV, a mere fifth of what the company was hoping for in that time frame.

In contrast, rival Mitsubishi Motors has enjoyed great success with its Outlander PHEV plug-in hybrid SUV, which boasts a 60.2-kilometer all-electric range. Even with its much higher price (starting at 4,123,440 yen), Mitsubishi has been selling Outlander PHEVs at a brisk pace, moving 13,000 in 2015 alone.

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This sales gap has shown Toyota that it needs to step up its game, and the company has announced that the Prius PHV will be getting an update. Equipped with an increased quantity of batteries, and also thanks to weight-saving measures in other parts of the vehicle, Toyota is promising that the refreshed Prius PHV will be able to travel more than 50 kilometers in its all-electric mode, a distance roughly twice what the current model is capable of.

The new Prius PHV is expected to arrive at dealers in the fall of 2016. In the meantime, grab a map and start plotting out all the new places you’ll be able to go without needing a drop of gas.