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Toyota Halts Shipments Of Vehicles Amid Auto Safety Scandal In Japan 

Toyota Motor and Mazda have halted shipments of some of their vehicles amid a safety test scandal currently occurring in Japan. Japan’s transport ministry has found irregularities in safety applications to certify certain models, according to reports from CNN.

The ministry said that the irregularities in the applications were found from Honda, Suzuki, and Yamaha Motor. When these automakers applied for safety certification for their vehicles, it was found that they had submitted “incorrect or manipulated safety test data.”

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Japan’s transport ministry initially wanted automakers to investigate certification applications in January. They made this decision because last year, Toyota’s Daihatsu compact car units experienced a safety test scandal. 

Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) and Glass Lewis, advisory firms, are recommending that Toyota shareholders vote to not re-elect Akio Toyoda as the chairman during Toyota’s annual general meeting which will be taking place later this month. 

ISS emphasized a “spate of certification irregularities” at the Toyota Group. Toyoda is the grandson of the founder of Toyota. CNN reported that he recently spoke to journalists regarding these recent developments:

 “As the person in charge of the Toyota Group, I would like to sincerely apologize to our customers, to car fans, and all stakeholders for this.”

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Toyota stated that they have temporarily halted shipments of three car models that are made in Japan. 

Government spokesperson Yoshimasa Hayahi said that the misconduct occurring within these automakers is “regrettable,” as the scandals are reflecting poorly on the Japanese government and their relationship with investors and corporate reforms. 

Toyota stated that their “wrongdoing had occurred during six different tests conducted in 2014, 2015, and 2020. The Corolla Fielder, Corolla Axio, and Yaris Cross were the models being affected.

Mazda has also suspended their shipments of the Roadster RF sports car and the Mazda2 hatchback after the automaker found out workers had modified engine control software test results. 

Atenza and Axela models from Mazda also had crash tests that have been tampered with. The airbags in the models had been tampered with so they would go off after a timer, instead of relying on on-board sensors which are meant to detect a crash. The two models are no longer in production.

Toyota Sign

Toyota Is Building A “Prototype City Of The Future” In Japan

Toyota is one of the most well-known standard car brands here in America. However, this year the vehicle company made a surprise appearance and announcement at CES 2020, an annual convention in Las Vegas known for introducing the world to all the new tech innovations to come within the following year.

Toyota announced that they are currently working on a project that will convert a former 175 acre car factory site to a mini town that they’re describing as a “prototype city of the future.” According to Toyota’s official release, the “city” will be used to test vehicles, new smart home technologies, street designs, and other mobility products that will be tested by the full time residents that will be living in the city.  

The project is also being referred to as the “Woven City” by Toyota, which refers to the three different types of streets the company wants to “weave” throughout one another. 

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Toyota President and CEO Akio Toyoda (L) and Architect Bjarke Ingels speak at CES 2020

“‘Woven City’ is a reference to weaving together three different types of streets or pathways, each for a specific type of user. One street would be for faster vehicles only. The second would be a mix of lower-speed personal mobility vehicles, like bikes and scooters, as well as pedestrians. And the third would be a park-like promenade for pedestrians only. These three street types weave together to form an organic grid pattern to help accelerate the testing of autonomy,” according to Toyota

Up to 2,000 individuals will be able to live in this city and that’s exactly what Toyota wants to occur. Most of the residents will be Toyota employees accompanied by their families. The town itself is based at the bottom of Mount Fuji in Japan, and is being designed by Bjarke Ingels, a famous Danish architect who is known for his extremely modern and sustainable building designs. Ingles and Toyota both have claimed they plan for the project to begin production by the end of 2021. 

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In support of Ingles’ sustainable values, Toyota plans on using their hydrogen fuel cell technology as a means of powering the entire 175 acre city. Hydrogen fuel is one of the cleanest forms of energy that can be used as a major power source without emitting any harmful elements into the environment. Toyota has already begun implementing this sustainable technology into some of their larger transport vehicles as a means of reducing the harmful emissions that trucks typically pump into the air. For the hydrogen fuel cell trucks, the only thing they emit is water vapor, a concept Toyota wants to implement into their town. 

If Toyota can successfully create this small futuristic city and run it completely on hydrogen fuel cell technology, the possibilities for sustainable living in the future will be limitless. Real progress towards reversing the catastrophic effects of climate change can begin. 

The trucks that Toyota has been testing this technology on will be implemented into the Woven city, however, not all of them will be performing traditional truck duties. 

“Toyota envisions these [hydrogen fuel cell powered trucks] serving a variety of functions, from typical mobility services like ride-sharing and carpooling, to less-typical purposes like serving as mobile office and retail spaces, medical clinics, hotel rooms, and more. These vehicles would congregate in centrally located plazas within Toyota’s prototype city to sell goods or provide services,” according to representatives from Toyota.

Residents of Woven City will also have access to a plethora of smart home technologies and AI powered devices all meant to enhance daily life and the tasks that come with it. The goal is to perfect all the technology within the city so that when these products/vehicles are ready to be implemented into the real world, they’ll be functioning perfectly.

Tokyo Olympics

Toyota Bringing Self-Driving Taxi’s To Tokyo For 2020 Olympic Games

Toyota is taking over the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with their newest and most innovative car technology yet. Self-driving cars have been an image of the future ever since Tesla’s got mainstreamed into the realm of vehicles; now Toyota, the largest automobile maker, will be introducing their first ever self-driving cars as cabs for individuals in Japan who will be travelling all throughout Tokyo for the 2020 Olympic games. 

The vehicles are known as “SAE Level-4 automated vehicles,” the SAE stands for Society of Automobile Engineers, and “Level 4” references this specific groups ranking for a vehicle’s advancement. Level 4 assumes that the vehicle can “perform all driving tasks under any specific set of conditions such as weather or geography,” according to The Verge. While these automobiles may have that advanced classification, Japanese law states that an individual must always be present behind the wheel of any moving vehicle, regardless of its technological capabilities. So if you’re attending the 2020 Tokyo games, don’t expect an empty car to arrive to take you to and from the games. Toyota is ensuring that while the cars will be driving themselves for the entirety of the automobiles residency in Japan, there will always be someone behind the wheel who will be ready to take control of the vehicle should it become necessary. 

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self-driving taxi trial on a test track 

“Toyota is only offering rides in its cars for a small window of time: July to September. The cars will be geofenced, meaning they will be restricted to a specific geographic area within Tokyo’s busy Odaiba district. Odaiba’s complex environment of pedestrians, vehicle traffic, diverse road infrastructure and tall glass buildings provide a challenging setting in which to demonstrate the capabilities of Toyota’s automated driving technology,” Toyota said in their official press release regarding their Level-4 vehicles.  

The Toyota Research Institute, based in Silicon Valley, has been testing these vehicles for this specific event for a few years now, (Verge). For the tests the group traveled to Ottawa Lake, Michigan in order to have a large enough space to prepare. In Michigan, engineers and researchers created a closed-course facility that exactly replicated Odaiba districts most challenging driving characteristics and common driving scenarios. They spent their time in Michigan specifically ensuring that these Level 4 vehicles were equipped and prepared to handle a multitude of conditions once actually in Japan. 

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The specific technology from Toyota is known as their “Chauffeur” software, which executives described in the press release as “focused on full autonomy, where the human is essentially removed from the driving equation, either completely in all environments, or within a restricted driving domain.” The “premiere” of these vehicles to the public being specifically for the Olympics, which are being held in the homeland base of Toyota, is also meant to put a spotlight on the companies new long lasting and advanced batteries for their electric vehicles. 

Toyota also said it will be providing “3,700 mobility products and/or vehicles for the Olympics, 90 percent of which will be ‘electrified.’ That can mean either battery-electric, hydrogen-powered, or even gas-electric hybrids. Of the 3,700 vehicles, 850 will be battery-electric and 500 will be fuel-cell electric.”

Finally, Toyota reminded crowds that last year they made a massive business deal with the company Uber. Toyota agreed to invest $500 million in a joint self-driving project with Uber. The two companies are now working together to make self driving cab cars the new wave of the future, why buy an expensive self driving car when you can just order it for the day?