Toyota canceled plans to run Olympics-themed commercials during the games, despite being a major corporate sponsor of the event

Toyota Logo
  • Tokyo Olympics sponsor Toyota won’t air Olympics-related TV commercials during the games.
  • Top Toyota executives are also skipping the Olympics opening ceremony.
  • COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Tokyo, and many are calling for the games to be canceled amid safety concerns.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Toyota Motor Corp., one of the top corporate sponsors of the Tokyo Olympics, is pulling its Olympics-related TV commercials from rotation, a senior company executive announced on Monday.

Additionally, Toyota’s CEO Akio Toyoda and other top executives will skip the Olympic opening ceremony.

Jun Nagata, the company’s chief communications officer, told Japanese outlet Yomiuri that Toyota would still supply a fleet of more than 3,000 vehicles to the games.

Earlier this year, Toyota filmed a TV spot featuring several of the 200 or so athletes the company sponsored.

Nagata declined to specify why exactly the company was pulling its Olympics-themed spots, though he said that there are still “things that are not understood” about the games, which kick off this Friday, will operate.

Some are speculating that the move is meant to distance the carmaker from the beleaguered and increasingly unpopular games.

COVID-19 infections in Tokyo continue to rise. Last week, the city reported the highest number of new COVID-19 cases in two months, prompting many to call for the games to be canceled.

A survey conducted by conservative Japanese news site Asahi Shimbun in June found that around 48% of the Japanese public wanted the games to be canceled.

On Sunday, two members of the South African soccer team tested positive for COVID-19. On Monday, 17-year-old American tennis star Coco Gauff announced she’d be dropping out of the games after testing positive for the virus.

Insider has reached out to Toyota for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Used Corvettes are worth $26,000 more than they were new last year. Here are 8 more used cars that gained value since 2020.

2020 Chevrolet Corvette_KL_24
2020 Chevrolet Corvette.

  • Used-car prices are at record highs, and prices on some models are spiking.
  • CNN analyzed Edmunds.com data to compare new retail prices in 2020 with used retail prices in 2021.
  • The Corvette saw the biggest gain of nearly $26,000, due in part to fewer new ones being made.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The used-car market is at record highs, especially for popular styles that are nearly new.

Normally, a car loses as much as a quarter of its value in its first year, but a CNN analysis of Edmunds.com data found that a few models have actually increased in value since leaving dealers’ lots.

The comparison looked at new retail prices in 2020 and used retail prices in 2021 to see which cars were worth more, and a few had increased so much that their trade-in value was more than the original sale price.

Here are nine models that have gained the most value in the past year.

Subaru Impreza +$224

Subaru Impreza
Subaru Impreza.

2020 New: $22,614

2021 Used: $22,838

Subaru’s Indiana plant was temporarily shut down because of the chip shortage, and larger, more profitable models like the Outback and Ascent may have taken precedence.

Kia Telluride +$1,433

2020 Kia Telluride.
2020 Kia Telluride.

2020 New: $42,609

2021 Used: $44,042

Kia struck gold with the Telluride, its extremely popular three-row SUV, but production has not been able to keep pace with demand.

Honda Civic +$1,740

2020 Honda Civic Si
The 2020 Honda Civic Si.

2020 New: $22,709

2021 Used: $24,449

If you traded in your year-old Honda Civic, you would get just $1,200 less than you paid for it, or just $100 per month of ownership. That’s not bad.

Jeep Wrangler +$3,193

2020 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon EcoDiesel
The 2020 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon EcoDiesel.

2020 New: $44,341

2021 Used: $47,534

American drivers can’t get enough of the rugged Wrangler.

Toyota 4Runner +$3,802

2019 Toyota 4Runner
Toyota 4Runner.

2020 New: $43,403

2021 Used: $47,205

The iconic 4Runner helped make SUVs the most popular category of all. Enough said.

Chevrolet Camaro +$4,638

2020 Chevrolet Camaro LT1
Chevrolet Camaro LT1.

2020 New: $37,879

2021 Used: $42,517

Camaro production was curtailed in order to direct the available chips to higher-profit-margin vehicles like trucks and SUVs.

Dodge Challenger +$5,754

2020 Dodge Challenger sports car
2020 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack.

2020 New: $41,766

2021 Used: $47,520

Like the Camaro, new Challengers weren’t able to dodge the chip shortage.

Ram 2500 +$6,668

dodge ram

2020 New: $56,768

2021 Used: $63,436

The CNN report attributed part of the increased demand for heavy-duty pickups to an increase in sales of campers and RVs. A Ford F-250 is also now worth more in trade than it sold for new.

Chevrolet Corvette +$25,812

2020 Chevrolet Corvette_KL_31
2020 Chevrolet Corvette.

2020 New: $81,425

2021 Used: $107,237

Production of new Corvettes has been interrupted this year by supply-chain problems, but notably not due to the semiconductor shortage that has impacted other makers.

 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Toyota said it would stop donating to Republicans who voted against Biden’s certification, having given tens of thousands of dollars since the Capitol riots

Donald Trump
Many top US companies scrambled to cut ties with the 147 GOP lawmakers who voted against the election results following the January 6 Capitol siege.

  • Toyota said it would stop donating to Republicans who had objected to Joe Biden’s certification.
  • The automaker’s PAC had given tens of thousands of dollars to these lawmakers since January.
  • In an ad this week, the Lincoln Project targeted Toyota for donating to the objectors.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Toyota said Thursday it would stop donating to Republicans who objected to Joe Biden’s certification as president, after the automaker came under fire from watchdogs and activists for giving tens of thousands of dollars to these lawmakers.

The company was the target of an advert from anti-Donald Trump campaign group the Lincoln Project on Thursday, which said that the automaker had given “more money than any company to the seditious politicians who voted to overturn the 2020 election result.”

The Lincoln Project shared a statement from Toyota after the ad’s publication, which said that its PAC’s decision to donate to the objectors had “troubled some stakeholders.”

“At this time, we have decided to stop contributing to those Members of Congress who contested the certification of certain states in the 2020 election,” its statement read.

The left-leaning watchdog Citizens for Ethics said in July that Toyota’s PAC had donated $56,000 total to 38 GOP objectors since January, making it the biggest donor to the individual objectors and their leadership PACs – while Popular Information said that the company’s PAC has donated $62,000 to 40 lawmakers.

Read more: Inside the Trump International Hotel DC when the Trump Organization indictments came down

Federal Election Commission filings show that, among others, Toyota donated $5,000 to Michigan Rep. Jack Bergman and $3,500 to Arizona Rep. David Schweikert.

“Toyota’s number one at finding ways to financially reward the very party that took our nation to the brink on January 6,” the narrator said in the Lincoln Project’s ad.

“If [Toyota’s executives] don’t reconsider where they send their money, Americans will reconsider where we send ours,” they added. Comcast refused to air the ad, the Lincoln Project said.

After a mob of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol on January 6 to try and prevent Congress from certifying Biden’s win, many top US companies scrambled to cut ties with the 147 GOP lawmakers who voted against the results.

Dozens of companies, including Walmart, Amazon, Morgan Stanley, and AT&T, said they would stop donating to these specific lawmakers, and Hallmark even asked two senators to return its donations.

Other companies, including Microsoft, Deloitte, and Goldman Sachs, said they would instead pause all political donations to both Republicans and Democrats..

The vast majority of corporations who pledged to stop funding these GOP lawmakers have stayed true to their word. Some companies who made vaguer promises about assessing PAC criteria have restarted donations, while others gave money instead to various Republican committees that, in turn, fund these lawmakers.

Toyota did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. A Toyota spokesperson told Insider in May that the company “supports candidates based on their position on issues that are important to the auto industry and the company.”

“We do not believe it is appropriate to judge members of Congress solely based on their votes on the electoral certification,” the spokesperson said at the time. “Based on our thorough review, we decided against giving to some members who, through their statements and actions, undermine the legitimacy of our elections and institutions.” The spokesperson did not say who those members were.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Some second-hand trucks now cost more than their original sticker price in a red-hot market – a 2-year-old Toyota Tacoma went for $1,000 more than its price when new

Cars sit outside a used car dealership with spray paint on the windows advertising the vehicles.
Used car and truck dealers have bought models for more than their original sticker price.

  • Used trucks have been sold for above their original sticker price in a red-hot market, Fox Business reported.
  • A supply crunch from factory closures and worldwide chip shortages for new vehicles have contributed to price rises.
  • But prices have climbed at a slower rate this week, according to vehicle data site Black Book.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Some car dealers have sold used trucks for more than the original sticker price thanks to rocketing demand and a global shortage of chips needed to make new cars, Fox Business reported.

Used vehicle prices have risen by an average of 30% over the past year, according to automotive data site Black Book, per Fox Business.

Alex Yurchenko, Black Book’s senior vice president of data science, told Fox Business that he had found 73 models of vehicles between one and three years old that were being sold to dealers at auctions for more than their original price.

“The market is very strange right now,” Yurchenko told Fox Business. “Dealers need the inventory, so they are paying lots of money for their vehicles on the wholesale market.”

A vehicle’s sticker price is the manufacturer’s recommended price for retailers.

While many of the models were high-value trucks and SUVs, such as the Ford F-150 Raptor pickup, Yurchenko told Fox Business that he found modestly priced vehicles sold above their sticker price, too. For example, Yurchenko found a 2019 Toyota Tacoma SR double cab pickup, originally priced at $29,000, going for nearly $1,000 more in 2021, Fox Business reported.

“Before we get through this, prices for many mainstream vehicles will get closer to their manufacturer’s suggested retail price,” Yurchenko told Fox Business.

The inflated prices are thanks to vehicle supply shortages caused by factory closures last year, a global shortage of automotive chips, and strong demand in the vehicle market, which is even leading to some sellers making a profit on cars with broken engines.

Used vehicle prices climbed 7.3% in May, and used vehicle price rises accounted for about one-third of overall inflation, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And used vehicle prices have also soared across the Atlantic – the UK’s Vehicle Remarketing Association (VRA) reported double-digit price increases over the past few months, and predicted that prices will rise further.

“We are in a kind of ‘perfect storm’ where stock is in very short supply, demand is high, and buyers are ready to spend freely,” VRA chair Philip Nothard said. Nothard said that dealers are also happy to sell older vehicles than they would’ve done previously.

The increase in used vehicle prices in the US has started to slow, with used cars climbing 0.75% last week – the lowest weekly rise in 17 weeks, Black Book told Fox Business.

Read the original article on Business Insider

These are the companies still giving money to the lawmakers who voted to overturn the election results

Hawley Trump
Former President Donald Trump with Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley.

  • After the January 6 Capitol siege, dozens of companies said they’d cut ties with some Trump groups.
  • Several companies vowed to stop PAC donations to lawmakers who voted against Biden’s certification.
  • However, other companies made vaguer statements – and have restarted donations.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Companies including Toyota, JetBlue, and Cigna are still donating thousands of dollars to the lawmakers who voted against Joe Biden’s certification as president.

After a mob of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol on January 6 to try and prevent Congress from certifying Biden’s win, many top US companies scrambled to cut ties with the 147 GOP lawmakers who voted against the results.

Dozen of companies, including Walmart, Amazon, Morgan Stanley, and AT&T, said they would stop giving donations to these specific lawmakers, and Hallmark even asked Hawley and Kansas Sen. Roger Marshall to return its donations.

Other companies, including Microsoft, Deloitte, and Goldman Sachs, said they would instead pause all political donations to both Republicans and Democrats. Many gave a set timescale for their pause.

A further group of companies said they would review their contribution policies or would take the January 6 events into account when awarding funding.

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, founder of Yale’s Chief Executive Leadership Institute, told Axios in March the companies that halted political donations are unlikely to lift this ban any time soon. However, recent Federal Election Commission filings show that some companies are still giving to these lawmakers.

Color of Change, which says it is America’s largest racial justice organization and has more than 7 million members, is urging these companies to halt the donations.

Jade Ogunnaike, senior campaign director at Color of Change, told Insider that Trump’s presidency “undermined faith in our democracy.”

She said lawmakers including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, who voted against Biden’s certification, “would have been very happy to do anything possible that they could to ensure that Trump remained in the office.”

“You can’t forget that these are not congresspeople that we can trust,” Ogunnaike added.

“It’s incredibly important that corporations understand that and refuse to back people who were supporting violence in the transfer of power,” she said.

The vast majority of corporations who pledged to stop funding these GOP lawmakers have stayed true to their word – but some companies who made vaguer promises about assessing PAC criteria have restarted donations, while others gave money instead to various Republican committees that, in turn, fund these lawmakers.

Here are the companies that have still been funding these 147 objectors, according to Federal Election Commission data up to March 31.

Toyota

Toyota Logo

Toyota’s corporate PAC has given to 40 of the lawmakers who voted against Biden’s certification, Popular Information reported, with the donations totalling $62,000. This includes $5,000 to Michigan Rep. Jack Bergman and $3,500 to Arizona Rep. David Schweikert.

The automaker had previously told Automotive News it was assessing its PAC criteria following the Capitol siege.

“Toyota supports candidates based on their position on issues that are important to the auto industry and the company,” a Toyota spokesperson told Insider.

“We do not believe it is appropriate to judge members of Congress solely based on their votes on the electoral certification,” the spokesperson said. “Based on our thorough review, we decided against giving to some members who, through their statements and actions, undermine the legitimacy of our elections and institutions.”

 

Cigna

Cigna insurance
Cigna’s logo.

Health insurer Cigna said in January it would pause contributions to lawmakers “who encouraged or supported violence, or otherwise hindered a peaceful transition of power,” but added that this group doesn’t necessarily include all 147 GOP objectors.

The company gave money to at least six of the lawmakers who voted against Biden’s certification, Forbes reported. This included $1,000 to Florida Rep. Byron Donalds, $1,500 to South Carolina Rep. Tom Rice, and $2,500 to Pennsylvania Rep. John Joyce.

“In January, we disqualified certain elected officials from CignaPAC support based on alignment with our company values,” Cigna told Insider in a statement.

“Our new standard applies to those who incited violence or actively sought to obstruct the peaceful transition of power through words and other efforts. Congressional votes are, by definition, part of the peaceful transition of power outlined by law, and therefore, we believe are not the appropriate indicator for the application of our policy.”

Cigna added that its PAC remains nonpartisan and “focused on the common concerns of the employees who fund it.”

Koch Industries

Billionaire businessman Charles Koch.
Billionaire businessman Charles Koch.

Popular Information reported that Koch Industries gave a total of $17,500 to six lawmakers who voted against Biden’s certification, including North Carolina Rep. Richard Hudson and Kansas Rep. Ron Estes.

This came after the Koch political network, which is also controlled by billionaire businessman Charles Koch, told Politico that “lawmakers’ actions leading up to and during last week’s insurrection will weigh heavy in our evaluation of future support.”

The chemical-manufacturing company did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.

National Association of Realtors

California Rep. Ken Calvert.
California Rep. Ken Calvert.

The National Association of Realtors is a major political donor. It spent a total of $154.3 million on political donations and lobbying during the 2019/20 election cycle, according to a report by Americans for Financial Reform, putting it third-highest among Wall Street firms and associations.

During this time period, it was the third-biggest PAC donor to the lawmakers who later voted against Biden’s certification, giving $1.27 million to these lawmakers out of the total $13.7 million it spent on political contributions, data from political-transparency site Open Secrets shows.

The New York Times reported that in the first quarter of 2021 the National Association of Realtors gave to multiple objectors, including $1,000 each Alabama Rep. Robert Aderholt and California Rep. Ken Calvert.

The association, which told Insider that it had 1.4 million members, said it put a temporary pause on all federal political disbursements in place after the siege, but had lifted it.

“This decision will ensure we continue to engage with political candidates in an effort to support America’s homeowners and our nation’s real estate industry,” it said, adding that its PAC was bipartisan.

JetBlue

JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neo
A JetBlue Airways Airbus A321.

JetBlue told Insider that it temporarily paused its donations to get feedback from PAC contributors. Since then, its PAC has donated $1,000 to New York Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, who voted against Biden’s certification.

“We take a bipartisan approach, supporting both Republicans and Democrats,” a spokesperson for JetBlue said, adding that its PAC had donated to two further Republican candidates and four Democratic ones since resuming contributions, none of whom had voted to challenge the election results.

“By having relationships with candidates on both sides of the aisle, we can also maintain a voice in the room on issues that are important to our crewmembers,” the spokesperson said. “We’ll continue to have an open dialogue with PAC contributors to understand how and where their contributions should be directed.”

Jones Walker

Mike Bost
Illinois Rep. Mike Bost.

Jones Walker, one of the US’ largest law firms, donated $1,000 to Illinois Rep. Mike Bost, Popular Information first reported.

The New Orleans-based company didn’t respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Cubic Corporation, LKQ Corporation, and the Sierra Nevada Corporation

Josh Hawley
Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley.

Forbes also reported that defense contractor Cubic Corporation gave to at least eight lawmakers who refused to certify, auto-parts distributor LKQ Corporation to at least eight, and aerospace company Sierra Nevada Corporation to least seven. 

Cubic declined to comment, while LKQ Corporation and the Sierra Nevada Corporation did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Trade associations

FILE PHOTO: Wells Fargo Bank branch is seen in New York City, U.S., March 17, 2020. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon
A Wells Fargo Bank branch in New York.

Some PACs, meanwhile, haven’t given directly to the 147 objectors — but are members of trade associations that themselves gave to these lawmakers, Popular Information said.

The American Financial Services Association, for example, counts General Motors and Wells Fargo among its members. Both said they would pause all political donations, and have kept true to their word — but AFSA donated $1,000 to South Carolina Rep. William Timmons in February, FEC filings show. ASFA’s PAC donates heavily in favor of Republicans, data from Open Secrets shows.

Financial-services companies are major donors to lawmakers, and Wall Street spent a record $2.9 billion on political contributions and lobbying in 2019 and 2020, according to a report by Americans for Financial Reform. Despite almost equal support for Democratic and Republican candidates, the sector donated overwhelmingly towards Biden’s presidential campaign over Trump’s.

Some companies are instead funding GOP committees

Pfizer
Pfizer.

Another way corporate PACs have been indirectly funding the lawmakers who voted against Biden’s certification is through donations to committees such as the National Republican Senatorial Committee (RNSC).

Popular Information reported that Pfizer donated $15,000 to the NRSC in February, which is run by Florida Sen. Rick Scott, who objected to the election results. These funds will also benefit the seven other GOP senators who voted against Biden’s certification, the publication reported.

Cigna also donated $15,000 to the NRSC, alongside a further $15,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC).

Intel also gave $15,000 to the NRCC after it had said it would stop donations to the 147 objectors.

The tech company told Insider that its policy of halting direct contributions to members of Congress who voted against certificating the Electoral College results still applied.

It said that it divides its political contributions evenly among Republicans and Democrats, including individual candidates, campaign committees, and governors associations, and added that it continuously evaluates its contributions.

Communications giant AT&T had also said in January that it would halt contributions to the lawmakers who voted against Biden’s certification, but it donated $5,000 to the House Conservatives Fund in February, which fundraises for the Republican Study Committee, itself made up mainly of GOP objectors.

AT&T told Popular Information that the House Conservative Fund had “assured” them that none of this money would go to support the re-election of the 147 objectors.

Insider has contacted Pfizer and AT&T for comment.

Color of Change wants these companies to address their political contributions

trump
Former President Donald Trump.

“At Color of Change we’re not supporting a boycott [of these companies] necessarily,” Ogunnaike told Insider. Instead, the organization is asking people to design a petition asking that these companies stop funding these lawmakers.

She added she also recommended that customers contact these companies and share their point of view.

“What we see is that corporations are very, very reactive to the concerns of consumers,” she said. “We’ve seen corporations change their minds on an important issue within moments because consumers reached.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Lyft joins Uber in ditching plans to make its own self-driving car, selling its autonomous vehicle unit to Toyota for $550 million

john zimmer lyft
Lyft’s cofounder and president John Zimmer.

  • Toyota is buying Lyft’s self-driving technology unit for $550 million, the companies said Monday.
  • Lyft joins Uber in ditching plans to make its own self-driving vehicle.
  • The self-driving unit, Level 5, will become a part of Toyota’s new Woven Planet division.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Toyota Motor Corp will acquire Lyft Inc’s self-driving technology unit for $550 million, the companies said, as the Japanese firm steps up its automation ambitions with the newly created Woven Planet division.

The acquisition of Level 5 automation will also provide Toyota access to the US ride-hailing firm’s more than 300 employees of the essentially complete autonomy technology.

“This is the first step of establishing and bringing together the people. Obviously building technology and product requires people, and that’s much what this acquisition is about,” Woven Planet chief executive James Kuffner told reporters on Tuesday.

It will also give Toyota a direct presence in Silicon Valley and London and expand smart-city project “Woven City” at the base of Japan’s Mt. Fuji, effectively helping it ride through dramatic changes expected in the mobility industry and major centres, he said.

For Lyft, the deal will allow it to become profitable sooner and takes away the burden and risk of developing a costly technology that has yet to enter the mainstream.

Kuffner said Woven Planet, which was set up in January, intends to continue investing and growing the team, although he refrained from commenting about any timeline or future acquisition plans.

Takaki Nakanishi, an auto industry analyst and chief executive of the Nakanishi Research Institute, said by expanding partnerships, Toyota is “moving a step towards realizing its goals,” including self-driving technology.

Toyota has other self-driving projects in the works

Toyota, which currently offers Level 2 automation with advanced driver assistance technology, has other self-driving projects and has been working closely with ride hailing firms.

It owns a stake in China’s top ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing and Southeast Asia’s Grab and also had a stake in the self-driving unit of Lyft’s larger rival Uber Technology Inc, but transferred the stake when Uber sold the unit in December to car startup Aurora.

Toyota said in February it would develop and build autonomous minivans for ride-hailing networks with Aurora and longtime supplier partner Denso Corp.

Lyft’s sale allows it to offload cash-burning side businesses and focus on reviving their core divisions following a bruising pandemic year.

It will receive $200 million cash upfront, with the remaining $350 million paid over five years.

Lyft did not immediately say how it plans to invest the funds. But the sale will allow Lyft to report third-quarter profit on an adjusted basis of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization as long as the company continues to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, it said.

Read more: GM- and Amazon-backed self-driving outfits are working to overtake Waymo. Experts say the Google spin-off must start expanding if it wants to fend them off.

The sale will also remove $100 million in annual net operating costs, Lyft said.

Lyft will now focus on what it can do best with autonomous vehicles by offering services such as routing, consumer interface and managing, and maintaining and cleaning partners’ autonomous vehicle fleets, which could mean added revenue, it said.

Lyft already allows consumers to book rides in self-driving vehicles in select cities in partnerships with Alphabet Inc’s Waymo and Motional, the joint venture between Hyundai Motor Co and Aptiv.

It will continue to collect real-world driving data through some 10,000 vehicles it rents out to consumers and ride-hail drivers. The data is valuable for the development of self-driving vehicles that Woven Planet will have access to under the deal.

But Lyft also believes human ride-hail drivers will remain important for the foreseeable future to serve customers during peak demand periods, bad weather, or in areas that self-driving cars are unable to navigate.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Toyota has unveiled the first of 15 new electric vehicles it plans to sell by 2025

Toyota_bZ4X_Concept_004
  • Toyota unveiled its new electric SUV at the 2021 Shanghai Auto Show.
  • The car is similar to a RAV4 in design, but rides lower and has a yoke steering wheel.
  • The new EV is one of 15 the company plans to make by 2025.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Toyota debuted its new all-electric SUV concept car on Monday at the 2021 Shanghai Auto Show.

The Toyota bZ4X is the first electric car under the company’s new Beyond Zero (bZ) lineup of cars with zero carbon emissions. It is the first of 15 fully electric cars the company plans to make by 2025 and one of seven under the bZ badge, according to a statement from CTO Masahiko Maeda.

The car is a compact SUV that looks similar to Toyota’s RAV4, but rides lower to the ground and features a longer wheelbase.

It’s the first car to be built on Toyota’s new electric e-TNGA BEV platform that the company created jointly with Subaru. Subaru is expected to unveil its own electric car on the platform shortly.

Toyota_bZ4X_Concept_006

The new car has several distinctive features, including a system that can use solar power to alleviate the impact of cold weather on the vehicle’s range, as well as yoke instead of a typical steering wheel. The car’s interior also has a large touchscreen.

The car company plans to manufacture the car in Japan and China. It should be available globally by the middle of 2022, according to the company.

Interior concept design of bZ4X

Toyota has not announced how far the car will be able to travel on a full charge, but it will likely be competitive with other EVs on the market, including the Ford Mustang Mach-E which has a range of over 300 miles.

Toyota also did not attach a price estimate to the car, but CarandDriver.com reported the vehicle may sell for about $40,000 – a similar price to Toyota’s RAV4 hybrid.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Ford paves the way as the first automaker to allow 86,000 employees to work from home permanently

Ford logo
Ford’s new policy will be introduced in July.

  • Ford has become the first auto company to announce employees can work from home in the long-term.
  • The company will explore flexible arrangements from July, depending on individual responsibilities.
  • A survey showed 95% of employees wanted a hybrid form of working and felt more productive at home.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Ford has become the first automobile company to shift towards remote working on a permanent basis, according to CNBC, with around 86,000 employees being allowed to work at least partially from home.

The policy is aimed at office workers rather than factory workers, who number around 100,000 and have largely returned to work.

Hybrid work plans and remote working will depend on individual and managerial responsibilities.

“The nature of the work we do really is going to be a guiding element,” chief people and employee experiences officer Kiersten Robinson told CNBC. “If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the last 12 months, it is that a lot of our assumptions around work and what employees need has shifted.”

Ford’s new policy will be introduced in July when most employees are expected to make at least a partial return to the office after more than a year.

“The nature of work drives whether or not you can adopt this model. There are certain jobs that are place-dependent – you need to be in the physical space to do the job,” chairman and chief executive of Ford Land, David Dubensky, told The Washington Post.

“Having the flexibility to choose how you work is pretty powerful,” Dubensky added. “It’s up to the employee to have dialogue and discussion with their people leader to determine what works best.”

Remote work coronavirus
95% of Ford employees wanted a hybrid form of working.

According to a survey conducted at Ford in June 2020, 95% of employees wanted a hybrid form of working and a number of them felt more productive at home.

The move from Ford comes after major companies including Google, Spotify, and Salesforce all announced that they were offering their employees the option to work from home permanently.

A survey conducted in January by the National Association for Business Economics suggested just one in 10 companies expected employees to return to the office after the pandemic.

“These companies are all looking at each other,” associate professor at Michigan State University’s School of Human Resources and Labor Relations, Angela Hall, told The Detroit News. “And especially someone like Ford, who is a large, respected employer – people are going to model that behavior.”

The Washington Post also reported that General Motors and Toyota were looking at flexible options for a return to the office, although they are both yet to announce new policies.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Toyota just started building a 175-acre smart city at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan. Photos offer a glimpse of what the ‘Woven City’ will look like.

Toyota city
The “Woven City” will eventually be home to 2,000 Toyota employees and their families, retired couples, retailers, and scientists, according to the company.

Toyota Motor Corporation started construction this week on a 175-acre smart city at the base of Japan’s Mount Fuji, about 62 miles from Tokyo, the company announced Tuesday.

The city, which Toyota has dubbed the “Woven City,” is expected to function as a testing ground for technologies like robotics, smart homes, and artificial intelligence. A starting population of about 360 inventors, senior citizens, and families with young children will test and develop these technologies.

These residents, who are expected to move into the Woven City within five years, will live in smart homes with in-home robotics systems to assist with daily living and sensor-based artificial intelligence to monitor health and take care of other basic needs, according to the company.

The eventual plan is for the city to house a population of more than 2,000 Toyota employees and their families, retired couples, retailers, and scientists. Toyota announced plans for the city last year at CES, the tech trade show in Las Vegas.

Here’s what the 175-acre smart city is set to look like when it’s finished.

Toyota’s planned 175-acre smart city will sit at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan, about 62 miles from Tokyo.

toyota city
An artist’s rendering of Toyota’s planned smart city.

Called the “Woven City,” the development will feature pedestrian streets “interwoven” with streets dedicated to self-driving cars, according to press materials. The city is expected to be fully sustainable, powered by hydrogen fuel cells. 

The Woven City will function as a testing ground for technologies like robotics, smart homes, and artificial intelligence, according to the company.

Toyota officially started construction on the city in a groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday, the company announced. The city is set to be built on the site of one of Toyota’s former manufacturing plants called Higashi-Fuji.

Toyota plans to send about 360 people to live in the Woven City to start. From there, it intends to gradually grow the population to more than 2,000.

toyota city
An artist’s rendering of Toyota’s planned smart city.

The first residents will be a group of roughly 360 inventors, senior citizens, and young families with children, according to the company. These residents will move in within five years, a Toyota spokesperson told Insider last year.

Toyota has not yet revealed how these first residents will be chosen, and a spokesperson did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for more details.

Eventually, the Woven City is expected to be home to more than 2,000 Toyota employees and their families, retired couples, retailers, visiting scientists, and industry partners.

Residents will live in homes outfitted with in-home robotics technology as well as sensor-based artificial intelligence to monitor their health and take care of their basic needs.

Toyota city
An artist’s rendering of a home in Toyota’s planned smart city.

Despite the planned high-tech homes, Toyota says that promoting human connection is a major theme of the city but has not released specifics on how it plans to encourage this. 

Press materials indicate that the planned city will feature multiple parks and a large central plaza for social gatherings.

toyota city
An artist’s rendering of Toyota’s planned smart city.

Bjarke Ingels, the famed Danish architect behind high-profile projects such as 2 World Trade Center in New York City and Google’s California and London headquarters, is responsible for the city’s design.

Buildings are to be made mostly of wood to minimize the carbon footprint.

toyota city
An artist’s rendering of Toyota’s planned smart city.

Rooftops are slated to be covered in photo-voltaic panels to generate solar power and hydrogen fuel cell power.

Toyota says it plans to integrate nature throughout the city with native vegetation and hydroponics, a method of growing plants without soil.

The city will be designed with three different types of streets: one for self-driving vehicles, one for pedestrians using personal mobility devices like bikes, and one for pedestrians only.

Toyota city
An artist’s rendering of Toyota’s planned smart city.

These three types of streets will form an “organic grid pattern” to help test autonomy, according to Toyota.

There will also be one underground road used for transporting goods. 

A fleet of Toyota’s self-driving electric vehicles, called e-Palettes, will be used for transportation, deliveries, and mobile retail throughout the city.

toyota e-palette

Toyota has not yet disclosed an estimated completion date or estimated total cost for building the Woven City. 

The Woven City joins a slew of similar smart city projects across Japan, some of which are also spearheaded by major companies.

panasonic Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town
A robot demonstrates a delivery at Panasonic’s Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town in Fujisawa, Japan on December 9, 2020.

In 2014, electronic appliance company Panasonic opened a smart city in Japan’s Kanagawa Prefecture called the Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town, per Tokyo Esque, a market research agency. The city is still under construction with completion expected in 2022, but more than 2,000 people live there now, according to Panasonic.

Accenture, an American-Irish consulting company, is teaming up with the University of Aizu on smart city projects in the town of Aizuwakamatsu with the goal of better using artificial intelligence in public services, the company announced in July 2020.

Local governments made more than 50 proposals for smart cities in Japan in 2020, but only a handful of those were approved, according to Tokyo Esque.

As Linda Poon reported for Bloomberg last year, critics say smart city developers should focus on the human aspect of the projects, not just the technology.

“If it’s not started from a human-centric perspective, from the bottom up as opposed to from the top down, these aren’t real cities,” John Jung, founder of the Intelligent Community Forum think tank, told Bloomberg in January 2020. “They’re not designed to get [people] to know each other.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Here are some of the car models most likely to be in shorter supply due to the global chip shortage

Car Dealership
New Chevys for sale fill the lot at Raymond Chevrolet in Antioch, Illinois, July 17, 2014.

  • Car dealerships are already reflecting the slowdown in manufacturing due to the global chip shortage.
  • Shoppers may see higher prices and lower availability of certain car models.
  • Car companies began halting production in January and expect to lose billions this year.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

A global shortage of computer chips has caused shutdowns at several automotive manufacturing plants – and car dealerships are already reflecting the shortage.

Car shoppers can expect to see an impact in the availability of certain car models due to the chip shortage, as well as a price increase, according to Cars.com executive editor Joe Wiesenfelder. Dealerships may also be less likely to offer deals as supplies dwindle.

“Consumers in the market of considering buying a car should shop now because choices and prices could worsen over the next two quarters,” Wiesenfelder told Insider. 

Car companies began halting production at manufacturing plants in North America in the beginning of January.

Automotive companies stand to lose billions of dollars due to the disruption in supply. Alix Partners told Bloomberg car companies could lose over $14 billion in the first quarter and about $61 billion overall in 2021. Though, Wiesenfelder said the industry could make up for the cuts by the end of the year.

Semiconductor chips have become an essential part of the manufacturing process for vehicles. The chips are used in navigation, bluetooth, and collision-detection systems and account for about 40% of a new car’s cost, according to a report from Deloitte.

The lack of chips has forced automakers to prioritize production of their higher-priced and more-profitable models.

Here are some of the models Cars.com said may see price increases or limited availability.

Toyota has already started increasing prices

2014 2017 toyota tundra crewmax
Toyota Tundra CrewMax.

The Toyota Tundra was one of the first cars to see a halt in production.

Cars.com said the Tundra has seen a drop in inventory of almost 27% for the month of February. Some Toyota models have already demonstrated price increases, including the Tacoma, which has gone up about $584 or 1.6%, despite only a 4% decrease in inventory, according to Cars.com.

Many Japanese carmakers are seeing an impact. Honda was one of the first car companies to warn of computer chip shortages, according to Bloomberg.

The Japanese carmaker has slashed production at several major manufacturing plants. In particular, shoppers can expect to see some pressure on the Honda Accord, Civic, Insight, and Odyssey, as well as the Acura RDX.

Nissan has had to adjust production in both Japan and North America. A spokesperson told Insider the company is continuing to assess the long-term impact of the chip shortage. For now, the models that have seen slowdowns for the carmaker include the Nissan Altima, Frontier, and Titan.

In February, Subaru reported it planned to cut its production plan for 2021 by about 58,000 cars. The models impacted by the cut include the Subaru Ascent, Impreza, Legacy, and Outback.

Ford and General Motors expect to lose billions of dollars 

ford factory
Workers build Ford F-150 trucks at one of the automaker’s assembly plants.

Ford began slowing down production at its plant in Louisville in January. During Ford’s fourth-quarter earnings call, CFO John Lawler said the chip shortage could cut the company’s first-quarter production by 10% to 20% – a $2.5 billion hit to revenue.

The car models that will be impacted by cuts at Ford plants include the Ford Escape and Lincoln Corsair, which are produced at the Louisville plant. Cars.com said there will also be declines in production of the Ford Edge and Explorer, as well as the Lincoln Aviator and Lincoln Nautilus.

During GM’s fourth-quarter earnings call the company said it expects to see a negative impact of $1.5 to $2 billion this year. 

The company announced last week that it was closing three of its North American plants. The manufacturing sites will remain closed until at least mid-March.

The closures are expected to impact the Buick Encore, Cadillac XT4, and GMC Terrain. The company’s Chevrolet line will also see some slowdowns, as the sites that produce Chevrolet Equinox, Malibu, and Trax have been impacted.

Fiat Chrysler and Volkswagen also feel the pinch

Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody
Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody

In January Fiat Chrysler suspended operations at plants in Ontario and Mexico. The slowdowns will impact several Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep products. Cars.com said dealerships will likely have lower inventories for the Chrysler 300, Pacifica, and Voyager. The Dodge Challenger and Charger may be in shorter supply, as well as the Jeep Cherokee and Compass.

BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen were some of the first car companies overseas to report shortages. In December, Volkswagen had already begun lowering production rates. The Volkswagen Atlas, Atlas Cross Sport, and Passat have already been impacted by the supply disruption.

Toyota, Honda, Subaru, Ford, GM, Fiat Chrysler, and Volkswagen did not respond in time to comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider