Friday, February 13, 2015

2016 Toyota Camry and Corolla Special Editions hit the floor

In addition to bringing the refreshed Avalon to the 2015 Chicago Auto Show, Toyota has also brought along a duo of limited Special Edition models based on the Camry and Corolla.

The company is only building 12,000 examples 2016 Camry Special Edition, which might sound like a lot at first, but it's a pittance compared to the sedan's overall annual sales numbers. The SE models arrive at dealers in August with 18-inch wheels, black highlights, smoked taillights and a choice of Blizzard Pearl or Blue Streak Metallic paint. The interior gets a few more upgrades with a power moonroof, blue seat inserts with black bolsters, push-button start and optional navigation.

The updates are similar for the 2016 Corolla Special Edition, which is limited to 8,000 units. Toyota gives it a set gloss black 17-inch wheels and Absolutely Red, Black Sand Pearl or Super White paint. The interior features red stitching for the seats and matching trim on the dashboard and doors. Tech upgrades are limited to push-button start, but navigation and a power moonroof are optional.

Friday, January 16, 2015

The midsize truck segment is suddenly seemingly exploding with new vehicles worldwide, even here in North America. Not only will the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon be available very soon, Toyota is already testing a replacement for its aging Tacoma and Honda has promised a Ridgeline replacement within the next 18 months. Also, the recently shown Nissan Navara is said to portend the future of our Frontier. Here's some more fresh evidence from Europe of this pickup boom with the next generation of its venerable Hilux in testing.

Thanks to Top Gear and sometimes the evening news, the Hilux has built a reputation of being able to go just about anywhere. According to out spy shooter, this particular pickup was spotted during hot weather testing in southern Europe. Interestingly, a Volkswagen Amarok was along for the ride as a benchmark. Because the VW tends to offer a bit more comfort than the generally utilitarian Hilux, this could indicate Toyota is considering taking the new truck in a slightly comfier, more refined direction.

Compared to the current model, this camouflaged tester sports a narrower front grille and headlights. The hood scoop is also absent here.

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Thursday, January 8, 2015

2016 Toyota Tacoma shows its face ahead of Detroit debut

Here's your first full look at the 2016 Toyota Tacoma ahead of its debut at next week's Detroit Auto Show. No details have been released just yet, but at first blush, the revised Taco looks to be a much-needed step forward for the Japanese midsize pickup.

We like the chiseled, modern face of the new Tacoma – it's pretty clean, not to mention rugged and handsome. The body sides almost look carried over from the current pickup (they very well could be), and around back, there's a new tailgate with badging stamped into the sheetmetal, as well as some fresh new taillamps. We can't yet see inside the Tacoma's cabin, though we expect it to have been thoroughly refreshed, as well – that's the place where the current truck really shows its age.

As we said, Toyota hasn't released any other details, but the badging on this truck shows a V6 engine lies underhood. A four-cylinder option makes sense, as well – especially if the Tacoma wants to adequately compete with the recently launched (and well-liked) Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon twins.

We'll know soon if this Tacoma is a fully baked, all-new model, or if its just a thorough refresh on an existing (and old) truck. Stay tuned.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Boldness, Branding and B.B. King: Toyota Launches 2015 Camry Campaign

'One Bold Choice Leads to Another' Campaign Highlights Redesign of America’s Top-Selling Car

TORRANCE, Calif. (Oct. 6, 2014) – Leaving only its roofline unchanged, the redesigned 2015 Toyota Camry is showing drivers just how bold America’s best-selling car can be. To ensure this bold move leads to another, Toyota is launching a marketing campaign for the new Camry that challenges people from coast to coast to live inspired lives while taking them to places they’ve never been before.

The campaign—entitled ‘One Bold Choice Leads to Another’—is the first launch initiative under Total Toyota (T2), a total market model that creates a more cohesive marketing approach to Toyota’s paid, earned and owned media by unifying the efforts of previously separate agencies.

“The 2015 Camry launch campaign captures what the new Toyota brand is all about,” said Jack Hollis, Vice President, Marketing, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. “When we created our new marketing model less than a year ago, our quest was to connect with guests in more exciting and relevant ways. This campaign is just the beginning, and we think our drivers will be able to feel the new energy we’re bringing to the brand.”

All of the T2 agencies (Saatchi & Saatchi Los Angeles, Burrell Communications, Conill, InterTrend Communications and Zenith) came together under Saatchi LA’s leadership to arrive at a core idea for the campaign. Once established, the core idea served as the guide for all of the creative work, which targets the total market, including highly-targeted efforts in diversity segments.

The campaign reflects the increasingly diverse American landscape. Consumer research for this campaign uncovered insights that united the Generation X target across multiple ethnic markets. The result was an inspiring connection between a vehicle that's doing something unexpected with its bold new styling and a generation that likes to stand out as individuals. The respective media and creative departments within the T2 model also worked together to ensure that interesting content is delivered to consumers when and where it's relevant for their lifestyles.

“The campaign centers on a pivotal message: One bold choice leads to another,” said Jason Schragger, Chief Creative Officer at Saatchi & Saatchi LA, who is leading the T2 creative process. “Through our research, we know buying a car today means buying the label that goes along with it. The boldness of the Camry’s new redesign communicates an unexpected, emotional thrill, and we wanted to capture that spirit of imagination and zest for life while connecting with consumers in meaningful and relevant ways.”

Elements of the campaign include mass reach media, custom programs that speak to guests’ passions with a bold twist, and collaborations with Toyota media partners.

A total of six broadcast spots were developed using multi-cultural insights aimed at a transcultural audience. The commercials share stories of drivers who make a series of bold life choices, each one ending with a touching human moment that aligns with Toyota’s Let’s Go Places tagline.

The :30 debut spot called “Guitar” shows a woman who goes to a storage auction and hits the jackpot (spoiler alert: “Guitar” stars blues legend B.B. King). Another :30 spot, named “Breakout,” features a young man who makes a daring decision at a wedding. A third :30 spot, “Bucket List,” tells the story of a man who takes the trip of a lifetime with someone he hasn’t seen in far too long.

Additionally, “Fix” features a husband’s bold driving skills while chasing a frozen yogurt truck in his new Camry to deliver a tasty treat to his very happy, pregnant wife. “Movie Premiere” follows a dapper man to a movie premiere. As he leaves in his Camry, the lead actress escapes the ensuing paparazzi, hops into the vehicle’s passenger side, and they drive off together. In “Park,” a husband and wife “sneak” into an amusement park after hours in their Camry for a surprise, romantic dinner to celebrate a special occasion.

The 2015 Camry also stars in print ads that communicate a series of adventurous decisions made by its drivers, ultimately inviting consumers to become bolder versions of themselves.

Toyota’s Camry iAd invites users to go inside the banner unit and become immersed in one driver’s big adventure. Using Apple’s gyroscope technology, the user experiences the situation from the driver’s seat through both audio and video components. Hotspots and Easter eggs increase engagement levels and provide more information about the vehicle.

Toyota will partner with Facebook to launch a data-driven creative campaign that leverages more than 50 pieces of content to deliver meaningful messages to users specifically based on their interests, preferences and car shopping habits.

The 2015 Camry will also find itself in the middle of a bold surprise with a few of YouTube’s biggest stars behind its wheel.

Building on this bold surprise and its excitement, Toyota will launch an action-packed interactive film on Instagram and other social video channels that will put social users in direct control.  Anchored by a well-known Latin-American celebrity behind the wheel of the bold new Camry, social users will select from among numerous bold decisions to create a unique storyline of events.

In addition, Toyota will bring together a diverse group of social influencers with various artistic backgrounds for a number of bold collaborations.  The program will tap into the power of their social communities by allowing fans and followers to help create a one-of-a-kind art project.

Another socially-driven initiative will document famous a chef as he visits well-known restaurants to find and share bold, new dishes. Fans can follow the culinary trail and share their own personal recipes.

Toyota will turn the Ride & Drive experience on its head for the new Camry, giving guests the opportunity to truly experience the vehicle’s boldness. Toyota will also sponsor the annual Drama Fever Awards, where fans will be able to enter for a chance to attend the event, meet the stars, and be part of the experience. Camry will award a new "Bold and Beautiful" category to a celebrity who has taken bold moves in his or her career.

One radio spot was produced for the campaign. It tells the story of a young man following the beat of a different drum. He makes bold moves in his new Camry as he deciphers Morse Code.

Background on 2015 Camry
The 2015 Camry made its global debut on April 16 at the New York International Auto Show. More aggressive than its predecessor, the vehicle features improved dynamic performance, a premium interior with a quieter cabin, and advanced safety technologies. The 2015 model ensures that the driver gets noticed for all the right reasons, and there’s an emotional thrill in surprising others with an unexpected side. It was boldly designed in the United States, at Toyota Technical Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Every Camry sold in North America is built at Toyota’s plant in Georgetown, Kentucky, where more than 7,000 workers produce a Camry every 54 seconds.

Since the Camry first went on sale in 1983, Toyota has sold more than 10.2 million units in the United States alone (408,000 in 2013).  Of the Camry models sold in the last 20-plus years, nearly two-thirds of them remain on the road today.

Friday, September 12, 2014

New Toyota FT-1 Concept, Vision Gran Turismo Join GT6 Lineup

While Supra fanatics will have to keep waiting in the wings, the hungry sports-car masses can feast on two new Toyota FT-1 concept cars which will be featured as playable vehicles in Gran Turismo 6. One of the concepts is a real-life reimagined, premium-flavored version of the first Toyota FT-1 concept which premiered at the most recent Detroit auto show; the second is a track-focused racing FT-1 Vision Gran Turismo virtual concept car. The first Toyota FT-1 concept, in its attempt to impress upon the automotive world Toyota’s return to sports car design and engineering after years of boring cars, bore a flashy red paintjob and a performance-minded interior when it debuted at the 2014 Detroit auto show. This second, graphite-painted Toyota FT-1 is more understated in its character, adopting a premium natural-grain leather interior in place of the red FT-1’s black-and-red theme replete with exposed raw metal. The cockpit takes on a softer and more refined atmosphere, but the road-focused driver’s seat, flat-bottom steering wheel, and heads-up color display carry over. The concept exists both as a real-life vehicle as well as a virtual, playable option in Gran Turismo 6. The car debuts publicly this weekend at the festivities on the Monterey Peninsula in southern California. Otherwise, this graphite Toyota FT-1 is identical to its predecessor. We’re still left in the dark about what powers the enticing FT-1, but we do know that it is a high-output, naturally aspirated combustion engine delivering its power to the rear wheels. Many hope that the FT-1 design will birth a resurrected Toyota Supra, which enthusiasts fondly remember as a highly tunable sports coupe. Others predict that the next Supra will fall under the umbrella of the joint Toyota-BMW Silk Road hybrid sports car project which will also give rise to the upcoming BMW Z5. Toyota’s interpretation of a Vision Gran Turismo concept uses the Toyota FT-1 as its foundation, but the track-focused model looks to be very much transformed for ultimate performance. Designers were given carte blanche to envision the FT-1 as a proper track monster. “The design brief for this car was very simple,” Toyota Calty Design Research president Kevin Hunter explained in a video promotion for the concept, “Take the FT-1 concept car and turn it into the most kick-ass, bad-ass, super race car you can imagine.” Upgrades such as larger racing tires with accommodating wheel arches, exaggerated air intakes, a more aggressive rear wing, front aero fins, revised side mirrors, and an extended rear diffuser make for major performance upgrades. The result is better grip, increased cooling, more downforce, and reduced drag. Both the Toyota FT-1 Vision Gran Turismo and graphite FT-1 will be available as playable models in Gran Turismo 6, beginning in September. Previous Vision GT cars include the Mercedes-Benz Vision GT, BMW Vision GT, Nissan Concept 2020 Vision GT, and Volkswagen GTI Roadster Vision concept.