Manufacturing

Toyota teases 2 new models in plant investment announcement (and we know what they are)

Toyota's Indiana plant is getting a makeover and adding two models.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

In the middle of a press release regarding an $800 million investment in Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana (TMMI), Toyota let it slip that two new models will find their place on the production line there - one Toyota and one Lexus.

The two new three-row SUVs are designed with the "active Gen Y American Family in mind". To figure out what they will be, look no further than our list of the new vehicle trademarks that Toyota and Lexus have put forth in the last few months.

The automaker has already filed to trademark the names "Grand Highlander", "TX350", and "TX500h". If you were a gambler, you'd want to put money on at least one of these models being a take on the Lexus LF-1 Limitless concept that was presented a few years ago at the North American International Auto Show. That three-row, coupe-like SUV was a touch ahead of the trend in terms of body styling and was very well received by dealers, media, and the public.

Lexus LF-1 Limitless concept The Lexus LF-1 Limitless concept was well-received by dealers, media, and the public when it premiered half a decade ago.Photo courtesy of Lexus

There's also the possibility that the forthcoming "Grand Highlander" may be a new Sequoia under a fresh name.

The "TX350" and "TX500h" filing makes it apparent that the vehicle will likely come with the same base engine as the Lexus RX, a 3.5-liter V6, and perhaps get a hybrid variant of the 5.0-liter V8 that's in the forthcoming 2022 Lexus IS 500 F Sport.

The release also said that the vehicles will have a semi-automated driving system. Lexus Teammate, a system with characteristics similar to what Toyota has described, will come first to the 2022 Lexus LS 500h. It has Level 2 functionality that "allows for driving on limited-access highways with partial hands-free, eyes-on-the-road operation", according to the automaker.

The announcement from Toyota says that the details of the forthcoming eight-passenger vehicles will be announced "at a later date".

"Over the past 20 years, Toyota has led the way with more electrified vehicles on the road than all automakers combined," said Ted Ogawa, president and CEO of Toyota Motor North America. "This investment and new vehicle line-up will allow us to continue our work with electrification, expand our portfolio to around 70 models globally by 2025, and meet the needs of our customers while we accelerate towards carbon neutrality."

Traditionally it takes 12 to 18 months to build out a factory following an announcement of this nature.

The investment in TMMI will bring 1,400 new jobs to the Princeton, Indiana plant. The factory, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, currently has over 7,200 employees. It's currently the home of the Toyota Sienna, Sequoia, and Highlander.

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New hot hatch

Toyota teases GR Corolla hatchback

The Instagram teaser contains many hints at the new GR Corolla.

Toyota

Toyota isn't always top of mind when it comes to performance cars, but the Japanese giant has a few tricks up its sleeve. There's the Supra, which the automaker partnered with BMW to produce and there's also the not-for-the-U.S. GR Yaris. The hotted-up hatchback features tremendous power and a four-wheel drive system, but buyers here can only watch jealously as our friends in Europe and elsewhere get all the fun. That's about to change for U.S. buyers, however, as Toyota has begun teasing the GR Corolla hatchback, which we will get.

The automaker posted a cryptic image to Instagram a month ago, but it's still making the rounds on the internet today, with users of the GR Corolla Forum still discussing the post today. The teaser, which is of the Corolla's interior, features hints as to what we might see when the car debuts. The navigation screen shows GR Four road, which points to the car's four-wheel drive system, while a G:16 on the clock in the gauge cluster represents the G16E-GTS engine that the car is expected to get. The GR Yaris also sports that engine, where it produces 268 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque.

Toyota GR Corolla GR, or Gazoo Racing, is Toyota's motorsport armToyota Europe

The GR Corolla should break cover next year, but we don't yet know if it will be a 2022 or 2023 model. As far as pricing goes, Toyota may pull out some surprises, but the car will likely be far more expensive than an everyday Corolla. The smaller GR Yaris is priced starting at nearly $40,000 in Europe, so the Corolla's price tag should be around or slightly above that number.

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VinFast will soon launch in the United States.

VinFast

The automotive business is a tough place to cut your teeth as a company. So many have tried and failed to break through with new vehicles, both in the U.S. and elsewhere. Electric vehicles seem to present a perfect opportunity for companies of all types to jump in with a new product. Such is the case with VinFast, a Vietnamese automaker. The company launched two new crossovers at the LA Auto Show yesterday, both of which are heading to the United States.

VinFast EVs Two models will debut at first, but the company plans on expanding here.VinFast

The VinFast VF e35 features up to 301 miles of range on a charge, while the full-size three-row VF e36 can travel up to 422 miles on a charge. Both vehicles come with a ten-year/100,000-mile warranty. VinFast says that its launch strategy in the United States wraps in charging stations, as the company realizes that they are a necessary part of EV adoption. In Vietnam, VinFast is in the process of building 40,000 charging stations to bolster adoption.

VinFast EVs VinFast will eventually build a factory in the United States.VinFast

Here, the automaker will build dozens of company-branded stores to sell its vehicles, similar to the approach taken by Tesla. VinFast's plan is to position itself as an exclusive product in the EV space, and to help it expand in the U.S., the company plans to build a factory in 2024. Part of its launch will also involve several special events across the country to introduce the brand and its vehicles.

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