Thursday, 12 October 2017 00:00

2018 Toyota Camry , sensible family sedan

Ever since it arrived for 1983 as the first ever transverse-engine, front-wheel-drive Toyota, the Camry has been a sane, sensible family sedan. Over six succeeding generations, the Camry executed that mission so well that it became America’s best-selling passenger car—but also among its most boring. Now, however, company boss Akio Toyoda wants to banish boring, which means big changes for the brand’s big seller. The effort got off to a tentative start with a more-extensive-than-usual mid-cycle update for 2015 but reaches full flower with the all-new eighth-generation car. This Camry really wants to party.


HIGHS
More muscular engines, toned chassis, extroverted styling.


LOWS
Higher prices, still no Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, styling maybe too extroverted?



To start, there’s the styling. In its family-sedan segment, it’s the equivalent of a purple mohawk. The new car is longer, lower, and (fractionally) wider, giving it a slightly lower-slung profile. Up front there’s an angry-looking visage marked by a pinched upper grille and a gaping lower maw. The bottom edge of the fascia flares outward, as do the rocker panels; the shoulder line kicks up behind the rear doors; and a crease slashes across the C-pillar and extends back to the decklid spoiler. SE and XSE models have their own, even busier front and rear styling, plus additional sculpting on the rockers and a rear bumper that emulates a diffuser. XSE versions offer a black roof. One can argue whether the new Camry’s styling looks better, but there is no question that there’s more of it.

Subaru of America, Inc. announced on Friday that the 2018 Crosstrek and WRX, when equipped with optional EyeSight® Driver Assist Technology, received the 2017 TOP SAFETY PICK award and when equipped with both EyeSight and LED Steering Responsive Headlights, received the 2017 TOP SAFETY PICK+ award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

The 2018 Crosstrek and WRX received the 2017 TOP SAFETY PICK award by achieving the highest possible rating of "Good" in the IIHS crashworthiness evaluations of front small overlap, front moderate overlap, side impact, roof crush, and rear impact as well as EyeSight receiving a "Superior" rating in the Institute's front crash prevention testing. The Crosstrek is an IIHS Top Safety Pick for six years running (2012-2017) and WRX for three years running (2015-2017).

Now all 2018 Subaru models with EyeSight and LED Steering Responsive Headlights received the highest possible 2017 safety rating from IIHS. The Crosstrek and WRX join Forester, Impreza, Legacy and Outback with this prestigious honor.

"Subaru is committed to developing the highest safety standards for our vehicles," said Thomas J. Doll, president and chief operating officer, Subaru of America, Inc., "and receiving the IIHS TOP SAFETY PICK+ award for all our 2018 models equipped with EyeSight and LED Steering Responsive Headlights proves this commitment to our customers."

The all-new 2018 Crosstrek combines a bold new design with a new and highly capable chassis for versatility in both off-road and city driving with a starting price of $21,795.

The rally-bred WRX is powered by a 268 hp 2.0-liter turbocharged boxer four-cylinder engine and has a starting price of $26,995.

 

Both vehicles received the Top Safety Pick+ award when equipped with EyeSight Driver Assist Technology and LED Steering Responsive Headlights
Both vehicles received the Top Safety Pick award and a 'Superior' rating in front crash prevention when equipped with EyeSight
Crosstrek is an IIHS Top Safety Pick for six years running
WRX is an IIHS Top Safety Pick for three years running

Cherished steam engine Loco #5 has returned to service with Snowdon Mountain Railway, carrying passengers to the mountain’s summit for the first time in 17 years.

Loco #5 is now the railway’s premier locomotive, following a comprehensive £60,000 refit and refurbishment of the engine.

This historic locomotive, named ‘Moel Siabod’ after another of Snowdonia’s peaks, first came into service in 1896.

Manufactured by the Swiss Locomotive & Manufacturing Co of Winterthur, these steam engines originally cost the railway around £1,500 to buy.

Alan Kendall, general manager of Snowdon Mountain Railway, said: “I’m extremely pleased to have Loco #5 back in service and taking passengers up Snowdon once again.

“Our engineers assure me it is the best presented locomotive on our railway and the benchmark for all future locomotive re-builds.”

The return of Loco #5 takes Snowdon Mountain Railway’s tally of coal-fired steam engines in service to four, alongside four diesel locomotives.

Carrie Probin, marketing executive at Snowdon Mountain Railway, said: “Loco #5 has been given a thorough overhaul and our engineers are proud to see the steam engine restored to its prime and returning to the summit of Wales’ highest mountain.”

Caterpillar Inc. on Thursday announced three vice presidents, Paolo Fellin, Greg Folley and George Taylor, have elected to retire. In connection with these retirements and the company's previously announced plan to review and update its strategy, Caterpillar is also announcing organizational changes, appointing two new vice presidents and launching a search for a third.

Paolo Fellin Retirement
After 37 years of service to the company, Paolo Fellin, Caterpillar vice president of the Global Construction & Infrastructure (GCI) Division, has elected to retire.

"Over his long career, Paolo has built an unrivaled reputation for his passion and devotion to finding solutions for our customers," said Jim Umpleby, Caterpillar CEO. "His leadership has played a critical role as Caterpillar has improved its market position for worldwide machine sales in the last several years."    

Fellin joined Caterpillar in 1980 in Geneva, Switzerland. Over the next several years, Fellin held a series of sales and marketing positions throughout Europe, Africa & Middle East (EAME). In 1992, Fellin moved to products and operations becoming product manager for small excavators (France). In 1996, he was named product manager for wheel loaders (Belgium). In 2003, Fellin was appointed industry manager for Caterpillar's North American Commercial Division (NACD). In 2004, the Caterpillar board of directors named him vice president of EAME, including CIS, Marketing Division, and in 2009, he was named vice president of EAME Distribution Services. In 2013, Fellin became vice president for GCI. His retirement is effective August 1, 2017.

Greg Folley Retirement
After 22 years of service to the company, and 11 years of practicing law prior to joining Caterpillar, Greg Folley, Caterpillar vice president of the Industry Solutions, Components & Distribution Division (ISCD), has elected to retire.

"Greg began his career with Caterpillar in the Human Services Division, and while he's held a range of leadership and executive positions focused on remanufacturing, component production and distribution during his career, his focus on people along with his positive attitude and leadership style are the hallmarks of his career," Umpleby said.  

Following an 11-year career outside of Caterpillar, Folley joined Caterpillar in 1995, and held numerous positions in the Human Services Division, including senior labor relations consultant, human resources manager, corporate labor relations manager, U.K. HR Shared Services director and director of Compensation + Benefits. In 2008, the Caterpillar board of directors named Folley vice president of the Core Components Division. He then served as the chief HR officer from 2009-11, and as vice president of the Remanufacturing, Components & Work Tools Division from 2011-15. In 2016, Folley was named vice president of ISCD. His retirement is effective August 1, 2017.

George Taylor Retirement
After 19 years of service to the company, and with more than 15 years of business experience prior to joining Caterpillar, George Taylor, vice president of the Marketing & Digital Division, has elected to retire.

"George has played a significant role in leading Caterpillar's initiatives utilizing data analytics, innovation, digital channels and techniques to unlock competitive advantages for our customers," Umpleby said. "George has laid a solid groundwork in this area as Caterpillar continues to develop digital solutions and products for our customers."

Taylor joined Caterpillar in 1998 as a strategic business planning services manager. Taylor held numerous marketing, product support and general management positions before he was named the director and general manager of the global on-highway truck group in 2006. In 2015, the Caterpillar board of directors appointed Taylor as vice president of the Customer Services Support Division, and, later, as vice president of the Marketing & Digital Division.

Before joining Caterpillar, Taylor had extensive external experience with IBM. He began in 1984 as a systems engineer and held several managerial positions before becoming a client executive in 1994. Taylor's retirement is effective August 1, 2017.

New Divisions Created in Connection to Updated Corporate Strategy
Following the above announced retirements, and taking into account the company's previously announced plan to review and update its strategy with the establishment of a Strategic Planning Committee (SPC), Caterpillar is also announcing organizational changes that will result in the creation of two new divisions. The company is forming these new divisions to drive greater efficiencies and effectiveness in support of its customers.

Chris Snodgrass Appointed Vice President of Product Support & Logistics Division
Caterpillar's board of directors has appointed Chris Snodgrass, currently general manager for Caterpillar's Industrial Power Systems Division (IPSD), to the position of vice president of the newly created Product Support & Logistics Division (PSLD). This division will combine groups currently located in other Caterpillar divisions to drive collaboration and implement strategic initiatives under the leadership of Snodgrass. PSLD will include design and manufacturing of wear and maintenance component products, as well as support of prime product and parts distribution, inbound and outbound logistics, warehousing functions, and packaging and container management.  

Snodgrass joined Caterpillar in 2013 following a successful 20-year career that included senior and executive leadership positions with commercial vehicle and industrial components manufacturer Meritor, and with Daimler AG, including roles in the Mercedes Benz truck division in Europe, Freightliner Trucks in North America, and with engine manufacturer Detroit Diesel Corporation.  

"Since joining Caterpillar, Chris has quickly demonstrated an ability to deliver results; as general manager for IPSD, he's played a significant role reducing material costs and driven substantial process improvements and results for the division's sales and marketing functions," Umpleby said. "His significant outside experience and perspective combined with his sharp focus on customers make him ideally suited for this role."       

Snodgrass has a bachelor's degree in management and organizational leadership from Concordia University. He will report to Rob Charter, group president of Customer & Dealer Support. Snodgrass will assume his new duties effective July 1, 2017.

Caterpillar Announces New Digital Enabled Solutions Division and Search for a Digital Vice President
The newly created Digital Enabled Solutions Division will bring together the company's data analytics group, the enterprise data hub, equipment management tools, Cat® Connect technologies and customer experience portals.

"We recognize the need to bring these groups into an organization that will bring enhanced focus and strategic alignment to the existing and yet-to-be developed digital enablers for our products and customers," Umpleby said.

Caterpillar will immediately begin an external search for an executive to lead the new division, which will report to Charter. In addition, as part of the reorganization, Caterpillar's marketing and brand organization will become part of the existing Global Aftermarket Solutions Division led by Vice President Nigel Lewis.

Damien Giraud Appointed Vice President of Global Construction & Infrastructure Division
Caterpillar's board of directors has appointed Damien Giraud, currently worldwide product manager for Caterpillar's large excavators, as the vice president of GCI.

Giraud joined Caterpillar in 1998, following a seven-year career with Colas Group, a French civil engineering and construction firm. During his nearly 20 years with Caterpillar, Giraud has held a number of marketing and product management roles with an increasing level of responsibility. A native of France who speaks four languages, Giraud has worked in Europe, Africa, Asia and North America.

"Damien brings an exceptional focus on our customers to this position," Umpleby said. "That customer focus combined with his global work experience, deep industry knowledge and his strong and transparent communication skills make him ideally suited for this position."  

Giraud has a bachelor's degree in engineering from Ecole Des Mines, Saint Etienne, France and a master's degree from the International Institute for Management Development in Lausanne, Switzerland. Giraud will be based in Geneva, Switzerland and will assume his new duties effective August 1, 2017.

Demers Ambulance, a North American leader in ambulance manufacturing, has announced the selection of its 2016 Ford Transit Type II Ambulance as a Hot Product from the Journal of Emergency Medical Services (JEMS) EMS on Wednesday Conference & Exposition, which was held February 23-25 in Salt Lake City.

Demers Ford Transit Ambulance was selected after a team of judges consisting of emergency medical services (EMS) product specialists, physicians, educators, managers and paramedics reviewed a host of products designed to not only improve the ability to deliver optimal emergency medical care to critically ill and injured patients, but that also allow EMS agencies to do it safely, more efficiently and with enhanced comfort for the patient. Products were rated on four distinct categories: originality, functionality, ease of use and need in the EMS setting.

Only 30 innovative products received the JEMS Hot Product award. The selection of the final 30 Hot Products appears in the June issue of JEMS and can also be viewed at www.jems.com/2017-hot-products.

"The Demers Ford Transit is the next wave in transportation vehicles for agencies that have relied on Type II vans for many years," said A.J. Heightman, JEMS Editor-in-Chief. "The size of the vehicle and its capabilities appear to be just right for the industry. Mixing that with primary basic life support and some smaller advanced life support needs seems to be an ideal package."

Unveiled in 2016, Demers Ford Transit Type II Ambulance features an aerodynamic roof to maximize lighting, save fuel and reduce noise; strong aluminum cabinetry with adjustable shelves; ducted five-vent ceiling HVAC system for improved heating and cooling; and maximized cargo capacity to increase storage, equipment and occupant room. "We are proud of our Transit Ambulance and its potential to support the first responder community," said Benoit Lafortune, Demers Ambulances executive vice president. "We are honored to receive this prestigious acknowledgement from JEMS as it shows we are providing a needed industry solution."

A strong qualifying performance and fast opening stint from Katherine Legge, followed by a quick pit stop by the Michael Shank Racing team and successful closing run by co-driver Andy Lally, netted the first victory for the Acura NSX GT3 in international sports car racing Saturday on the Belle Isle Park temporary street circuit in Detroit, Michigan.

Starting second in the GTD category after posting the best qualifying performance of the season for the NSX GT3, Legge completed a strong opening drive in the #93 Acura, pulling away from the rest of the field between encounters with slower traffic.

A caution just past the 30-minute mark resulted in most teams heading to pit lane for their single stop and driver change in the 100-minute contest.  When Legge pitted the #93 Acura, her Michael Shank Racing team elected to change only two tires during the stop, enabling co-driver Lally to resume in the lead.

When the green flag waved with just over an hour remaining, Lally held off a challenge from the Ferrari of Alesandro Balzan, then pulled away in the closing laps to take the checkers just over two and a half seconds clear of the GTD field.

Acura and the MSR team came close to a double-podium result in Detroit.  The #86 Acura NSX GT3 of Jeff Segal and Oswaldo "Ozz" Negri ran as high as third before late-race contact from a following GTD car sent Segal briefly off-line, costing him two positions.

Starting at the rear of the 15-car GTD field after a crash in practice on Friday, Negri moved the #86 car up to 12th prior to pitting and handing off to co-driver Segal.  In another dramatic strategy call, the MSR team elected to make the stop for driver and fuel only, saving time in pit lane by keeping the same tires on the #86 NSX and gaining six positions in the process. 

Segal then moved up three more positions early in his run, and attempted to hold on to third place in the closing laps.  But, with just over two laps remaining, contact from the following Lamborghini of Madison Snow briefly sent Segal off-line, and he fell back to fifth at the checkers.  Still, the 1/5 finish for Acura and the Michael Shank Racing team today is the best combined result for the NSX GT-3 since it debuted in the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway in January.

Competing in the GTD class of the sports car racing championship, the NSX GT3s race against premium automotive brands including Aston Martin, Audi, BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche.

Developed from the production Acura NSX, the NSX GT3 utilizes the production NSX's ultra-rigid and lightweight multi-material body with aluminum-intensive space frame, which is produced at the Performance Manufacturing Center in Ohio, exclusive worldwide manufacturing facility for the NSX. The 3.5-liter racing engine uses the same design specifications as the production Acura NSX, including the block, heads, valve train, crankshaft, pistons and dry-sump lubricati

Everybody is making batteries these days, it seems. The EV revolution is coming, and as none other than Glencore’s Ivan Glasenberg said last week, it’s coming faster than we had expected.

 

The latest news confirming this came from Germany. At the start of this week, Daimler broke ground on a $559 million (€500-million) battery factory in Kamenz, Germany, claiming it will be one of the largest and most modern battery factories in Europe.

The carmaking giant has made clear its intentions for superfast growth in the EV segment. In March this year, at the annual shareholders’ meeting, Daimler announced plans to speed up its EV expansion and have a lineup of 10 all-electric models by 2022.

The acceleration of the program probably had something to do with the fact that the carmaker could not hit its own emission reduction targets for 2016, in spite of fitting its fleet with more energy-efficient engines. Yet more than that, it’s a clear acknowledgement of the revolution that Glasenberg was talking about.

Now, the EV business will require investments of $11 billion. Another $1 billion is slated to be used for batteries—the new gigafactory and the existing battery-making division, ACCUmotive. But the aim is not to just have enough batteries to fit on all new electric cars, the aim is to make them affordable.

Bloomberg’s Caroline Hyde reported earlier this week that Daimler’s gigafactory is the first step in a direction that Europe has been slow to explore. The continent only accounts for 2.5 percent of the battery-making market, and this has to change in order for Europeans to be able to take advantage of not just e-cars, but new energy storage systems.

Energy storage systems are big in Europe, as they are elsewhere, with gigafactories reducing battery costs and ultimately the prices of the entire system, allowing utilities to store energy produced from renewable sources, making them much more commercially viable.

The implications of these cost reductions are essential for cars as well: if the cost of a battery for an electric car falls by 40 percent, which gigafactories could achieve by 2021, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, then e-cars will become much more affordable since the battery cost represents a large chunk of the price tag. In fact, electric cars could become more affordable than the ones powered by internal combustion engines.

Five years later, Lyft is finally competing with Uber’s roots. 

The No. 2 ride-hailing company on Thursday launched Lyft Lux, its version of premium black car rides — the service that Uber launched with in 2009, but that Lyft never really tried out after it launched in 2012. 

“You do it all. Your ride should, too. We’ve added two black car options — Lyft Lux and Lyft Lux SUV — so even when you’re dressed to the nines, Lyft offers a ride that suits your needs,” Lyft wrote in a blog post. 

Lyft Lux and Lyft Lux SUV will be available in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and San Jose. Drivers who work in those cities can start driving for Lyft Lux if they have an approved vehicle from at least 2011 with a black exterior. Certain models of Audis, Bentleys, BMWs, Cadillacs, Buicks, Land Rovers, Lincolns, Maseratis, and other cars on a long list qualify. 

Drivers also must have a rating of 4.7 or above, and their cars must have “leather or leather-like” seats. Lyft advertised its new option to drivers by telling them they’d make more money driving for Lyft Lux. 

Lyft calls Lyft Lux its “most luxurious ride experience.” 

Toyota is getting in on the flying car craze—but with an Olympic twist.

The Japanese automaker backed a project called Cartivator, which wants to build a tiny flying car to light the Olympic flame for the 2020 Summer Games.

Cartivator is made up of over 30 volunteers, all donating their time to build the Skydrive car, which they hope to prep for a manned flight by the end of 2018.

Toyota’s financial contribution to Cartivator is relatively small if you’re Toyota: around 40 million yen (a tad over $350,000). But for Cartivator, which has relied on donations and online crowdfunding, it’s a huge help towards financing the prototype which they’re claiming will be the smallest flying car developed yet.

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