• Toyota issues small-batch recalls for new Yaris, Tacoma

    February 18, 2015
    Toyota has issued two small-batch recalls for the new 2015 Yaris and Tacoma TRD Pro.
    Approximately 230 of the small hatchbacks may have left the factory with an improperly tightened bolt that retains the rear axle bearing. If the bolt falls off during operation, it could damage rear brake components or cause the wheel to lock up.

    The 20 Tacoma pickups listed in the second recall were accidentally sent to Puerto Rico dealers without the proper B-pillar tire placard indicating the proper tire inflation pressure.

    The company claims to be unaware of any crashes or injuries blamed on either condition.

  • Environmentalists, Koch brothers support Tesla in dealer disputes

    February 18, 2015
    A group of ten public-interest organizations has publicly voiced support for Tesla Motors in the fight against state dealer-franchise laws.
    The list of groups is notable in itself. Some signatories, particularly the Sierra Club and the Koch brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity, are typically pursuing opposite goals, however the conservative free-market advocates and pro-environment lobbyists all seem to agree that Tesla should be able to sell its vehicles directly to customers.

    “These laws retard innovation by making it harder for new technologies to achieve wide distribution and hence reach an adequate scale to be sustainable in the market,” reads the open letter to government officials. “We call on legislators, governors, and other public servants across the political spectrum to take a stand against laws that block direct automotive distribution to the detriment of innovation, the economy, consumers, and the environment.”

    The letter, first reported by Bloomberg, argues that restrictive laws have broader implications beyond just Tesla. Dealer lobbyists have countered that everyone should have to abide by the laws, and Tesla shouldn’t be allowed to play by a different set of rules.

    Speaking during the company’s recent earnings call, CEO Elon Musk noted that he had a “secret weapon on the demand side” and “might release a good weapon against the dealers,” however he has yet to elaborate on the comments.

    The company has generally won support from both sides of the aisle whenever the state-by-state battles have emerged into public view.

  • Japanese automakers reduce US production over port dispute

    February 18, 2015
    Several Japanese automakers are preparing to reduce US factory output as the labor dispute at West Coast shipping ports continues to disrupt operations.
    Honda has confirmed plans to slow production for at least a week at its US and Canadian assembly plants, while Toyota will continue to idle overtime shifts. Nissan has also confirmed that the dispute has affected production.

    “We do not have a sufficient supply of several critical parts to keep the production lines running smoothly and efficiently,” Honda spokesman Mark Morrison told Reuters.

    Subaru parent Fuji Heavy Industries plans to extend its air-shipping program to bypass the port trouble, though the strategy is claimed to add approximately $59 million to the company’s monthly shipping expenses.

    The dispute has led to months of backed up shipping traffic spread across 29 ports, as the International Longshore and Warehouse Union fails to reach an agreement with the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents the shippers. US labor secretary Tom Perez has joined the talks, warning that the shutdown could cost the US economy hundreds of millions of dollars, however his intervention has not yet resulted in an accord.

  • Pagani Huayra sells out

    February 18, 2015
    Pagani has reportedly sold out of its entire Huayra production run.
    The achievement, confirmed by Pagani spokesman Luca Venturi in a statement to Autoblog, comes four years after the Zonda successor was first unveiled at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show.

    The company is still producing the exotic supercar at its factory in Modena, Italy, at an annual pace of 40 vehicles — each fetching at least $1.5 million.

    The seven-figure price tag pay for an AMG-sourced 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged V12 engine with 700 horsepower and 738 lb-ft of torque, capable of propelling the car to 62 mph from a standstill in 3.2 seconds. Prolonged pressure on the gas pedal will eventually bring the driver up to 230 mph.

    The company is expected to introduce a Huayra roadster variant within two years, giving enthusiasts another chance to fill a spot in their garage.

  • Subaru builds 15 millionth Boxer engine

    February 18, 2015
    Subaru announced on Wednesday that it has built its 15 millionth Boxer engine. The milestone comes 49 years after the Japanese automaker introduced its first Boxer engine to the market.
    Although arguably best-known for its Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system, another hallmark of the Subaru brand is its range of Boxer engines. Subaru introduced its first Boxer-powered vehicle — the 1000 — in 1966 and still maintains the engine technology to this day.

    Unlike typical inline and V-engine designs, Subaru’s Boxer layout uses a horizontally opposed cylinder setup. That unique design not only allows for smoother operation, but also allows the engine to be placed lower in the engine bay, result in a lower overall center of gravity.

    Subaru is one of just a few automakers to still employ the Boxer engine design. Thanks to a joint venture with Toyota, a 2.0L Boxer four can be found beneath the hood of the Toyota GT86 as well as the Scion FR-S. Porsche also uses a flat-six design in its 911, Boxster and Cayman sports car lines.

    Image by Drew Johnson.