Sunday, September 25, 2016

Exquisitely Bored In California

We could debate the idea of a red Prius being a police vehicle. We could. But why?

Instead, let's just leave it at, this is a really stupid thing to do.

Oh, and yes Toyota and Saatchi, hmmm, a red Prius, playing with police? Where have I seen that before?

Maybe it was the red and blue lights on top of a Toyota Prius that prompted a skeptical call to Turlock police when the hybrid attempted to pull the driver over. 
After the call, real police began checking the area of Countryside Drive and W. Monte Vista Avenue for the suspicious car, but couldn’t locate it initially. 
Then, two hours later, an officer pulled over a red Prius. Inside were 20-year-old Saul Rodriguez and 18-year-old Michael Reynolds, police said. Also inside the car police found red and blue emergency lights, police said. The young men were subsequently taken into custody. 
Police used the incident as an opportunity to remind the public that if they believe they are being contacted by someone impersonating a police officer to contact 911 if they feel like their life is in danger. 
“As a citizen, you can ask for identification from a police officer or contact that officer’s department to verify their employment,” officials wrote in a Facebook post. “If you are stopped while driving your vehicle by an unmarked police vehicle, pull over in a well-lit and or well-populated area. If the person who has stopped you is wearing plain clothing you can ask for either a supervisor or for a fully marked patrol vehicle to respond to your area.” 
However, police also took the moment to remind the public should someone try to run from an officer without justification, it could result in a criminal charge.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

What Do The Prius Prime Packages Look Like?

Danny at Prius Chat has posted all the details.

A few comments from me.

-A Prius should have a SmartKey. Not having on the base version is just stupid.

-I'm still trying to figure out why vinyl, sorry, "SofTex" seats come at a premium. I'm so old I remember when plastic seats were something most people wanted to avoid.

-A name badge is not a feature.

Do visit Prius Chat and look over the features of the new Prime.

Prius Prime Goes On Sale In November

Via our friends at Prius Chat...

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Not Prius

And straight from the proverbial horse's mouth...

Toyota Announces 2017 Mirai Pricing

September 20, 2016
TORRANCE, Calif. (Sept. 20, 2016) – Toyota Mirai drivers – COME ON DOWN!! While drivers may not see the trailblazing Toyota Mirai fuel cell vehicle in a game show showcase anytime soon, they can see every day value in new model year pricing. Toyota Mirai 2017 model year offers competitive, flexible pricing options and the opportunity to be a part of automotive history.The Mirai hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle combines hydrogen and oxygen to make electricity onboard, while emitting nothing but water vapor. It is a zero emission vehicle with an EPA estimated driving range of 312 miles, and refuels in around five minutes.MY17 MSRP remains $57,500 plus an $865 destination fee. Mirai customers also may qualify for an $8,000 federal tax credit and $5,000 potential California rebate along with access to the coveted California HOV carpool lane.To recognize our Mirai drivers leading the way, qualified customers will be eligible for the Mirai trailblazer support program. The trailblazer program enhances the purchase and ownership experience with the following choices:
  • Trailblazer Lease: $349 per month for 36 months, $2,499 due at signing* with 12,000/year  mileage allowance
  • Trailblazer APR Support: 0% for 60 months or 1.9% for 72 months and
  • Trailblazer Purchase Support of $7,500
*Excludes official fees, taxes and dealer charges. See participating Authorized Mirai Toyota Dealer for details.The new model year brings with it a new color option – Atmospheric Blue – to complement the existing Celestial Black, Elemental Silver and Nautical Blue Mirai color choices.The Mirai comprehensive, ownership experience remains unchanged for MY17, boasting a range of world class services, including:
  • Three years’ worth of complimentary fuel [1]
  • Three years complimentary Safety Connect and Entune, including hydrogen station finder app.
  • Three years of 24/7 customer call support.
  • Mirai Complimentary Rental Experience for seven days per year for three years.[2]
  • ToyotaCare[3], our standard no cost service plan and roadside assistance, is enhanced for Mirai and includes:
  • No cost scheduled maintenance for three years, or 35,000 miles, whichever comes first[4]
  • No cost enhanced roadside assistance[5] for three years, regardless of mileage, including expedited towing service and trip interruption reimbursement at a maximum of $500 per day for up to 5 days per incident.[6]
  • 8-year/100,000-mile warranty on key fuel cell vehicle components including the FC stack and power control unit; FC hydrogen tanks; hybrid battery pack and ECU; FC air compressor, boost converter and ECU; hybrid control module (power management control module); and hydrogen fueling ECU.[4]
California customers can request a Mirai by visiting Production of the Mirai is limited and vehicles will be placed with select, eligible customers. After placing a request, potential Mirai drivers are contacted directly by a Toyota representative to discuss ownership and next steps.Mirai customers take delivery from one of the eight authorized California dealers of their choosing. In Southern California, Longo Toyota, Toyota of Orange, Toyota of Santa Monica or Tustin Toyota will take care of Mirai trailblazers. Customers in Northern California will visit Roseville Toyota, San Francisco Toyota, Stevens Creek Toyota or Toyota Sunnyvale.

What I don't understand is why Toyota is still flogging this thing. When does the cut your losses time arrive?

And just to slide the shiv in a little further, this...

Sunday, September 18, 2016

California Hybrid And EV Sales Slower

There are absolutely no surprises here. It's gas prices and the triumph of larger/SUV marketing by car companies. Sorry to spoil the whole thing. But if you want to read it, you should it.

h/t SacBee.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Prius Recall

Toyota recalls certain Prius vehiclesSeptember 14, 2016
Toyota Motor North America, Inc., announced that it is conducting a safety recall of approximately 7,600 Model Year 2016 Toyota Prius vehicles in the U.S.The involved vehicles are equipped with a front passenger air bag which contains stored, compressed gas in the inflator. A component in the airbag assembly may have been improperly welded and/or misassembled. If this occurs, the stored gas may escape without a deployment signal and result in the partial inflation of the air bag. This has been observed when the vehicle is parked and unoccupied for a period of time. An airbag that inflates in this manner can, under some circumstances, increase the risk of injury and the possibility of a crash.All known owners of the involved vehicles will be notified by first class mail beginning in November. Toyota dealers will replace the front passenger air bag assembly with a new one at no cost.Information about automotive recalls, including but not limited to the list of involved vehicles, is subject to change over time. For the most up-to-date Safety Recall information on Lexus, Toyota and Scion customers should check their vehicle’s status by visiting and entering the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Safety Recall inquiry by individual VIN is also available at the NHTSA site: For any additional questions, customer support is also available by calling Toyota Customer Service at 1-800-331-4331 or Lexus Customer Service at 1-800-255-3987.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Virtual Prime

Toyota has debuted a new exhibit of sorts for the Prius Prime. The debut, at Tech Crunch Disrupt SF16, started yesterday. And once you know all the details, this may seem like an enormous expense for one event. Toyota is not above doing things like. It also seems entirely reasonable that this exhibit will likely travel the country helping to intro the Prime to America.
So the demo comes in two parts. In first part you create a 3D environment using software something similar to Tilt Brush. Wait, what is Tilt Brush you ask? It's this...
But they didn't end up using Tilt Brush because the artwork wouldn't export into their VR driving environment so, Toyota's perennial ad agency Saatchi&Saatchi used something else. The article isn't clear but it may be something Saatchi developed themselves. Either way, it's easier to use than Tilt Brush according to the story and, the main point, exportable. I've included the Tilt Brush video just to give you and idea of what it is if you're not already familiar with it.

The larger part of this is a driving simulator which include an immersive 3D environment and motorized seats which track the motion of the video. Some of the visual elements during the drive portion were created by legendary industrial designer Syd Mead. Make no mistake, this is pulling out a very big gun. Mead has been a go-to futurist designer for decades (Mead is now 83). He designed the Spinners in Blade Runner and the vehicles in the first Tron movie (and lots more). Yeah, that guy.

Mead's work speaks for itself and there's no doubt that this driving sim will be exciting. You can tell that from the Tech Crunch piece though I thought this was interesting...
Overall, it’s an interesting experiment in marketing and immersive narrative, but one that still leaves me thinking we still have a long way to go before we get to a place where the average VR storytelling experience is enjoyable for most.
I get the feeling the writer was a little more wowed than he wanted to be.

In the end, it's clear Toyota USA is serious about making statements with the Prime which, if I put on my skeptic hat for a minute, might be better made in the vehicle itself than in creating a marketing environment to show it off. But yes, that's a little too brutal, no matter what, Toyota has to spend money telling the story, educating customers on why Prime is so important. I'm looking forward to a chance to drive Prime myself and tell its story in my own way. Look for that here sometime in the near future.