2012 TMS Award Winners

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Please join us in congratulating our 2012 dealership award winners! While there were many additional department awards received throughout the group, these are the most prestigious dealership awards issued by TMS each year for achieving operational excellence in numerous areas. While these awards are certainly a team effort, we would like to acknowledge the following dealerships and General Managers for their superior leadership:

Toyota President’s Award:

Hudson Toyota – Jake Kahen
Wolfchase Toyota – Tyler Heard
Atlanta Toyota – Brian Mayfield
Central Florida Toyota – James Farrell
Round Rock Toyota – Caron Corzine
Toyota of Fayetteville – Heath Campbell

Toyota Board of Governor’s (Top 60 volume nationally):

Hudson Toyota – Jake Kahen
Central Florida Toyota – James Farrell

Elite of Lexus:

Lexus San Diego – David Wolfson
Lexus of Chandler – Mark Spendley

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Penske Racing to use Roush Yates Engines in NASCAR


Yesterday Roush Yates announced that Penske Racing will use its FR9 engine in the Ford Fusion cars it will be campaigning in NASCAR next season.

It’s quite a switch for Penske Racing, which has traditionally built and maintained its own engines. Now it will be using the same engines as other Ford teams.

“We are very pleased that Penske Racing has decided to use Roush Yates’ FR9 engines as they re-join Ford starting in 2013,” said Jamie Allison, director, Ford Racing. “This aligns well with the spirit of One Ford; having a unified One Ford engine program in NASCARallows us to apply all of our technical resources into one program benefitting all Ford teams. We believe the FR9 has proven to be a strong engine and by taking the input from our teams and drivers at Roush Fenway, Penske Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports and the Wood Brothers, we know that input, along with the knowledge and technical skills of Ford and Roush Yates, led by Doug Yates, will only make our engine program even more competitive in the future.”

Jack Roush and Robert Yates used to be direct competitors but they combined forces in 2004 to make engines available to all Ford teams; so it was probably only natural for Penske Racing to participate. Nowadays Roush Yates supply engines to teams in numerous racing series.

In other NASCAR news, SRT Motorsports announced today that it would not compete in NASCAR next season. Coincidence? Not really.

Back in March, Penske Racing revealed it was switching from racing the Dodge Charger in the Sprint Cup series to the Ford Fusion next season. This left SRT Motorsports, as Chrysler’s racing division is now named, without a top team for next season. Robby Gordon was the only other team running a Dodge this year and he has only competed in a handful of NASCAR events.

It’s a real blow to NASCAR, which has suffered from a decline in spectators and TV audience this year, as it was hoping the new closer-to-production-looking cars that will debut next season would revive interest. Now we will only see the Ford Fusion, Chevrolet SS and Toyota Camry on the track. Ironically NASCAR approved all the aerodynamic packages, created by the teams, last week. The Dodge Charger was also approved but now it will not be seen on the track in competition. It’s a museum piece already.

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Toyota To Increase Highlander Output

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Toyota to Increase Highlander Output, Including Hybrid and Exports, in Indiana

Project will create about 400 new jobs
ERLANGER, Ky. (Feb. 8, 2012) – Toyota will increase production of the Highlander mid-size SUV in late 2013 at the company’s Princeton, Ind. plant. Hybrid and export versions will be included. The project is expected to create approximately 400 new jobs at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana, Inc. (TMMI).The company will invest about $400 million to support global demand for the Highlander, which will no longer be built in Japan by late 2013. Toyota builds Highlander in China for that market only. Annual Highlander production volume is expected to increase by approximately 50,000 units at TMMI.

Highlander is currently sold in Russia and Australia, and TMMI will export to those countries.

“This project allows for better utilization of the Indiana plant and will help Toyota capitalize on the improving North American and global auto market,” said Steve St. Angelo, executive vice president of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc. “In addition to new jobs at the Indiana plant, this project will increase opportunities and jobs for our North American supply base.”

“This project is part of our localization strategy to build vehicles where we sell them,” said TMMI President Norm Bafunno. “This announcement is a vote of confidence from Toyota Motor Corporation in the abilities of our team members and this plant.”

TMMI currently employs 4,800 and builds the Highlander, Sequoia full-size SUV and Sienna minivan.

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Toyota Prius c Will Debut at North American International Auto Show

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Next spring, the Prius c will join the Prius Family line up. The highly anticipated vehicle will be unveiled in January, at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The subcompact hybrid will be joining the third-generation Prius Liftback hybrid, Prius v midsize hybrid, and Prius Plug-in Hybrid, and will help round out the Prius family by adding a more affordable option for younger drivers, particularly those who live in the city. Toyota will market the Prius c towards younger shoppers and focus on its fuel efficiency, technology and driving dynamics.

As a member of the Prius family, it would naturally be expected that the Prius c would be fuel efficient, but the subcompact is expected to surpass even those standards. With an expected fuel economy of 50 mpg, the Prius c will be a leader in its class and have the highest mpg of any non-plug-in vehicle. On top of that, the Prius c will be offered at a more affordable price.

Because its aimed towards younger drivers in urban settings, the Prius c will be a little sportier than other Prius models, making it a bit more fun to drive. Standard features on the Prius c are Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, steering-wheel audio, climate and telephone controls, and nine airbags.

Another feature is Toyota’s new multimedia system Entune, which is already available on the Camry, Prius v and Tacoma, and allows users to connect to apps that provide navigation, entertainment and information all from the vehicle’s console. Drivers can stream music, use voice recognition technology and utilize Entune’s text-to-speech capabilities.

The Prius c was first introduced at the North American International Auto show as a concept car, so it will be a fitting arena to unveil the production model next January. The c stands for “city-centric,” representing the Prius c’s target market. The subcompact Prius will use a 1.5L DOHC four-cylinder engine, and is about the size of the Yaris.

Source: Toyota Press Room

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Who is Jon Sibal And What Did He Win?

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Last week, Scion announced the winner of the Scion Tuner Challenge at SEMA: Jon Sibal. Known for his renderings, Sibal took home a cash prize, trophy for his iQ-RX design, and the dream prize package from Snap-On, Alpinstars and Meguiar’s.

Sibal’s iQ-RX sported a matte metallic grey exterior with bronze pearl paint and Veilside iQR panels and bumpers. Notable features of Sibal’s design include a 32” flat screen that pops up in the trunk, an Orion audio system, an XBOX 360 game console and an iPad 2 enclosure. The judges particularly liked the flat screen and how it folded down to create more trunk space.

You have to admit – Sibal’s entry does look pretty sleek. The dark theme seems like a perfect fit for the city, which is appropriate considering the iQ is a microcar designed for urban driving.

The Scion Tuner Challenge has been held annually since 2005. Applicants mail in their proposals, and three are selected to tune actual vehicles. The model changes each year; this year, Scion chose the 2012 Scion iQ as their platform of choice. The three models are then judged at SEMA.

To choose a winner, judges examined a number of aspects of each of the tuners, including the paint and bodywork, audio/visual and overall execution. In second place, Michael Chang took home $7,000 and prizes from Snap-On, Alpinstars and Meguiar’s for his EVS iQ-RS design. Tatsunori Tsuchida’s iQ-MR won third prize, which included $5,000 and a selection of products from Snap-On, Alpinstars and Meguiar’s.

Sibal is a designer and artist, and produces a lot of work both in and out of the automotive field. In addition to designing aftermarket autos, he works for DC Comics and is currently working on Batman: Earth One.

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New Toyota Camry Highlights Entune Technology

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The Toyota Camry has a jazzy new commercial to show , off its Entune mobile technology. Featuring Kelly Clarkson and her song “What Does Kill You (Stronger)”, the commercial follows several different people from all walks of life, showing what each of them wants – sports scores, movie tickets, restaurant reservations, music streaming – and they all end up in the Toyota Camry. It’s clever and upbeat, and many find it amusing and fun.

Check it out, and then read more about the Entune technology below.

Entune is a technology that allows users to connect to various mobile apps and services through your smartphone. The system is available in select new Toyota vehicles, and users access Entune by connecting their smartphones to their console. The interface is then displayed on the console, giving drivers easy access to mobile apps. Through Entune, you can listen to music, buy movie tickets, and get information about sports, stocks, traffic, etc.

Toyota owners get three years complimentary access to a variety of apps, depending on which multimedia service they are using: Display Audio with Navigation and Entune, or Premium HDD Navigation with Entune. The former comes with Bing, Pandora, fuel prices, stocks, sports, weather, and traffic. However, the Premium HDD Navigation with Entune comes with iHeartRadio, Opentable,, NavTraffic and NavWeather, in addition to all the apps you get with the Display Audio system.

To use Entune, drivers need a compatible smartphone (iPhone, Android, or BlackBerry), a data plan and one of the select Toyota 2012 models that comes with Entune: the Prius v, the Camry, and the Tacoma, although the Tacoma only has the Display Audio multimedia system. Android and Blackberry phones can connect wirelessly, while iPhones require a USB cable.

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Guess who is “Surfing” Into The SEMA Auto Show…Oakley?

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The SEMA Auto Show kicked off in Las Vegas this week to a multitude of custom designed cars.  Among those was the Oakley Surf Tacoma, customized for surfers.  SEMA, which is short for Specialty Equipment Market Association, is an aftermarket auto event that showcases OEM specials and custom designs.

Based on the 4×4 Toyota Tacoma, the Oakley Surf Tacoma received a number of enhancements by Smithbuilt to make the vehicle a perfect fit for surfers.  Such enhancements include a GPS, space for surfboards, a barbecue grill, a cooler, and even a shower.  At the show, Australian surfing pro Tom Whitaker was ready to answer questions and talk about the Oakley Surf Tacoma.


They also added a supercharger to give the Tacoma a horsepower of 304 and installed a Flowmaster exhaust.  The suspension received a number of upgrades: an Icon Stage 3 lift kit, Billet top A arms, new leaf springs for height, and front coil-over system.  The interior received upgrades of its own, including Wet Okole Hawaii custom-embroidered seat covers made out of wetsuit materials.  The Tacoma also got an upgraded sound system from Kicker.


While you might not find surfers on the shores of Lake Erie, you have to admit that the ride is pretty awesome – especially that paint job.  You can expect to see the Toyota Tacoma in Ohio, though.  Starting at $16,365 with a 2.7 L 4-cylinder engine, 6 speed manual transmission and rear wheel drive, the Tacoma gets an EPA estimated gas mileage of 21 in the city and 25 on the highway.  If you’re interested in test-driving the Tacoma, please don’t hesitate to stop your Penske Toyota dealerships.

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Toyota Returning to Le Mans with Hybrid Car

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Toyota announced last Friday that it will be competing in the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship with its new gasoline-electric hybrid, the LMP1.  One highlight of the championship is the 80th running of the Le Mans 24 Hour race, which takes places June 16 and 17 next year.

Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG is currently developing the prototype race car’s chassis, while Toyota in Japan is developing the hybrid gas powertrain. Recently, the company has been working on an electric racecar prototype, which set a new electric-car record – 7 minutes and 48 seconds – at the 13-mile track in Nurburgring, Germany.

Toyota last competed as a manufacturer at Le Mans in 1999 with the GT-One.  The GT-One was able to set a new race lap record; however, in the final hour of the race, the tire punctured.  Since then, TMG has focused on Formula 1 racing, but withdrew in 2009.

Other, smaller racing teams have tried racing with hybrid vehicles, but saw little success.  While Toyota has already established itself as a leader in hybrid technology with the Prius, the company wants to use this opportunity to further build up its reputation in hybrid technology.

“We want to write a new page in the history of the Le Mans 24 hours, as well as the FIA World Endurance Championship, through our use of hybrid technology,” said Tadashi Yamahina, senior managing officer at Toyota and chairman of TMG.

Le Mans 24 Hour race is a French sports car endurance race held in Le Mans, France.  The first race was held in 1923, making it the oldest sports car endurance race in the world.  Cars must run for 24 hours straight without sustaining mechanical damage.  The circuit consists of both public roads and a permanent track and is currently 8.469 miles in length.  Drivers may drive for durations at long as two hours before stopping at the pit to change drivers.   Current regulations state that 3 drivers must share each racing vehicle.

The LMP1-based car will come out in early 2012 for pre-season testing.

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