The PlayStation Gran Turismo 6 Lexus, Subaru and Toyota vision concepts

GT6 Toyota

Back in 1992, Kazunori Yamauchi, along with a group of 7 other individuals, set out to develop the original Gran Turismo racing video game for the Polyphony Digital subsidiary of Sony Computer Entertainment. Five years later, the initial game, for the original PlayStation game console finally went on sale to favorable reviews and an adoring public.

As part of the 15th Anniversary celebration of that late-1997 original release, Yamauchi-san issued an Olympian challenge to the world’s carmakers with a single question: “Would you be willing to design your rendition of Gran Turismo for us?” The videogame’s name “Gran Turismo” (GT) refers to a 2-door sport car, known as a Grand Touring car in the English-speaking automotive world. As the official Gran Turismo 6 Vision GT page reveals, 23 car brands, 3 Italian carrozzeria (Bertone, Italdesign Giugiaro and Zagato) and even 2 sporting apparel brands (Jordan and Nike) answered the call.

Mercedes-Benz has taken it one step further and, on Wednesday 20 November 2013 at the Los Angeles Auto Show press conferences, unveiled the actual, physical Mercedes-Benz AMG Vision Gran Turismo Concept, albeit as a 1:1-scale model with no powertrain. (In the game the 3053-lb mid-front engined coupe is powered by a 577 horsepower, twin-turbocharged V8 producing 590 lb/ft of torque).

That Mercedes is hardly expected to be the only GT6 concept to make the jump from virtual presence on a video screen to physical, palpable reality, for the rumor mill suggests that the second will be from no less than…

TOYOTA
Two weeks after the Mercedes Vision GT6 concept reveal, new Vision GT renderings from a number of carmakers, including Toyota and Subaru, were first brought to our attention via Autoblog. Toyota’s rendering, shown at the top of the story, has a silhouette that seems to foretell a much-rumored Mark V Supra. Fanning the flames of the rumormill is no less than Joe Clifford of the official Toyota United Kingdom blog, who, on Thursday 12 December 2013 wrote that

This is the only image available at the moment but any talk of Toyota and new sports cars always leads to speculation on the introduction of a spiritual successor to the Supra.

We never comment on speculation but it’s clear that there are familiar proportions in the shape of the silhouette…

Yours truly’s gut feeling and suspicion is that the Toyota press conference at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show (to be held on Monday 13 January 2014 at 8:50 AM Eastern time) will reveal a Toyota Supra Vision Gran Turismo Concept of some sort.

GT6 Subaru

SUBARU
The closest thing to a Gran Turismo coupe that Subaru has ever built for production is the Thunderbirdesque, Giugiaro-designed SVX. The Vision GT Subaru shown above, however, recalls a far more recent concept from the carmaker: the Cross Sport Design Concept that debuted at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show. The bare-bones teaser blurb Subaru released 3 weeks before its unveiling hardly hinted at this cladding-bedecked BRZ shooting brake that, for this author, was probably the biggest unexpected surprise of the show. The second attempt (after the FT-86 Open concept) at expanding the BRZ / GT 86 / FR-S body style repertoire beyond the production coupe has seemingly been made sleeker and, thankfully, lost the side cladding and pseudo-SUV soft-roader styling cues from the Cross Sport Design Concept. Or are we, possibly, seeing some hints around the nose at what a mid-life facelift or even next-gen model of the Toyobaru coupe might look like?

GT6 Lexus

LEXUS
Although the big Wednesday 4 December 2013 reveal unveiled the bulk of the Vision GT teaser renderings from the participating brands, a number of them remained unseen at that point. Among them: Lexus’, which quietly appeared later in December and is shown above. A number of its design elements, such as the triangular layout of the 3-dot headlights, the roofline and the particular shade of red recall the much-praised LF-LC Concept, albeit in a super-wide-body rear quarter variant with cartoonishly large rear tires. Are exaggeratedly wide rear fenders becoming a new Lexus concept car fetish?

…and Daihatsu, too
Among the 7 Vision GT teaser renderings that, as of this writing, remain unseen is Daihatsu’s. Frankly, we can’t help but wonder what this not particularly enthusiast-oriented small car and SUV specialist – majority-owned by Toyota – is doing here. Their only loosely GT-ish model is the Copen retractable-hardtop 2-seat roadster kei microcar that went out of production last year. The colorful trio of Kopen concepts the carmaker unveiled at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show should probably provide the basis or inspiration for Daihatsu’s baby GT.

Toyota’s Tokyo Motor Show lineup

Toyota FV2 Concept

Toyota FV2 Concept

Japanese carmakers will reveal their latest cars-to-come at the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show which will open to the media on November 20, and which will stay open to the public through December 1.

Here is what you will see at Toyota’s booth in Tokyo – unless you prefer to go to the LA Autoshow, that is. Continue reading

Le Comeback: Renault returns to America, under Mitsubishi cover

Le Car - Picture courtesy photobucket.com

Renault hasn’t sold cars in the U.S. since the post-disco-era and the sale of AMC to Chrysler. Renault cars are about to return to the Promised Land, albeit in Mitsubishi mufti.

Continue reading

2013 Toyota Dream Build Challenge & SEMA Show Project Teasers

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2013 Toyota Dream Build Challenge & SEMA Show Project Teasers

Toyota has just published teaser shots of their upcoming SEMA Show projects which include four contenders in their 2013 Dream Build Challenge and two other vehicles which will be revealed tomorrow.

Since this is hell week for all SEMA project builders, Toyota has upped their game by having all of their builds completed as of last week. Considering that the build teams only had 7 weeks to put their cars together, you will be amazed at the details and quality of each project.

You can find more info on Toyota’s Dream Build Challenge projects and their teams here: http://www.toyotadreambuild.com/

World’s largest automakers 2013, Daily Kanban prediction: #1 Toyota, #2 GM, #3 VW

Toyota lobby - Picture courtesy Bertel SchmittUnless a disaster happens, the year 2013 will end unchanged as far as the world’s largest automakers are concerned. Meaning: #1 Toyota, #2 GM, #3 VW.

World’s largest automakers
Jan-Sept 2013, full year forecast
9M’13 9M’12 YoY Proj ’13
Toyota 7,536,260 7,681,891 -1.9% 10,048,000
GM 7,250,848 6,942,917 4.4% 9,668,000
Volkswagen 7,030,000 6,710,000 4.8% 9,373,000
Production: Company data. Forecast: Kaizenfactor estimate

Today, Toyota supplied its global sales and production numbers for September and year to date. GM and Volkswagen already published their numbers earlier in the month. For this tally, we use production, not sales, simply because OICA uses production numbers when declaring the world’s largest automaker. The scoreboard has Toyota with a slight decrease. GM and VW booked a moderate increase. As forecasted elsewhere earlier in the year, the field narrowed considerably, however, my crude, but time-tested projection sees the three contestants separated by more than 200,000 units when the year ends. Which gives me the confidence to call a winner three months ahead. (I predicted this outcome elsewhere in May 2013.)

Toyota could end the calendar year a hair below 10 million, or a hair above. The 10 million barrier has been broken by Toyota in 2012 already, and with no fanfare at all. According to OICA, Toyota made 10.1 million units in 2012 worldwide. In May 2013, Toyota forecasted sales of 10.1 million for the current fiscal year which ends on March 2014. TMC’s pace increased a bit the month, and I am confident that the target will be met.

Scion Fans Unite At Scion Night

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Scion Nights is undeniably the world’s largest gathering of Scion owners and enthusiasts in one place at one time. As we are nearing the holiday season, Scion has once again partnered up with the Toys for Tots Foundation to help collect gifts for less fortunate kids. Over 12,500 Scion owners and guests came from all parts of California and surrounding to partake in one of the largest toy drives in the region.

Each owner and their guests who arrived in a Scion with a new unwrapped toy were given admission to the Halloween themed Knott’s Scary Farm. Instead of the usual military vehicle cargo haulers, the untimely government shutdown allowed Scion to enlist brand new Texas-built 2014 Toyota Tundras to help hold onto the gifts for the Toys for Tots Foundation. Over 27,000 gifts were collected.

This annual Scion celebration drew over 3,500 Scions, which encompasses every single model and generation ever made. Scion traffic jams were caused in and around the streets leading into Knott’s. All sorts of xA, xB, xD, tC, iQ and FR-S could be found everywhere you  looked. Every Scion Release Series as well as the new Scion 10 Anniversary models could be found here.

Before Knott’s Scary Farm opened their doors at 7 pm, Scion treated their guests to a mini carnival of aftermarket vendors, food trucks, live music, a skate park, and even a zip line in the Scion-only parking lot.  Many iconic project vehicles were on display as well as the first ever xA and xB which is normally housed at the Toyota USA Museum. It was a treat for all that came and a huge success for Scion and the Toys for Tots Foundation. Special thanks to Craig at Scion for allowing me to be an honorary Scion owner for a day.

GALLERY: 10.16.13 Scion Night @ Knott’s Scary FarmIMG_6353-L IMG_6367-L IMG_6370-L IMG_6384-L IMG_6374-L IMG_6371-L IMG_6393-L IMG_6402-L

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