To the Moon

Meet the Lunar Cruiser, Toyota's four-seater moon rover designed in partnership with JAXA

The newly named Lunar Cruiser is set to arrive on the moon's surface in 2030.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Corporation

A partnership with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has delivered the Toyota Lunar Cruiser, a four-seat moon rover. Work on the project has lasted over a year, commencing in July 2019.

With a name inspired by Toyota's Land Cruiser SUV, the Lunar Cruiser is a six-wheel utility vehicle that is six meters long, five meters wide and about four meters high. It can accommodate two people for regular use and four in an emergency.

JAXA-Toyota Lunar Cruiser

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Corporation

This isn't just a one-off project designed to generate publicity for JAXA and Toyota. The Lunar Cruiser's design and engineering process has a number of milestones set out to meet. Starting in 2022, the partnership will manufacture a 1:1 scale prototype of the rover then begin acquiring and verifying testing data on driving systems required to explore the moon's polar regions.

Two years later, it is expected that progress will be able to advance to allow for design, manufacturing, and evaluation of an engineering model of the rover and design of the actual flight model will begin. By 2027, the flight model will be manufactured and design and evaluation of the model will be underway.

It's projected to be ready for work in 2029. JAXA plans to use it as part of a manned exploration in 2030.

When manned, the rover will be pressurized and is designed to use fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) technologies to navigate the moon's surface.

Pressurised Rover Concept | Toyota and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency www.youtube.com

This isn't the only massive fuel cell technology undertaking Toyota is involved in. They recently revealed plans to create an alternatively fueled live-work-play testing facility at the base of Mt. Fuji.

While those projects are ongoing, Toyota is moving forward with passenger car and tractor trailer FCEV technology. They recently debuted a redesigned Mirai sedan and have begun installing hydrogen fueling stations along the western coast of California to be used by the overland trucking industry. The company continues efforts to lobby towns on the East Coast of the U.S. to adapt restrictive laws to be more receptive to FCEV vehicles.

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Honda notified dealers of upcoming supply cuts.

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Honda, like all major automakers today, is truly a global operation. Though it produces plenty of vehicles here in the United States, many of the components it relies on for manufacturing come from elsewhere in the world. That means Honda, like the other auto giants, needs its global supply chain operating smoothly in order to prevent disruption. Unfortunately for Honda dealers and potential customers, disruption is what's about to happen. The automaker recently sent a letter to its dealers, forecasting reduced vehicle supply in the coming weeks.


2021 Honda Ridgeline No. 19 - Honda Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc


The dealer letter, posted to the Civic XI forum and fan site, was dated August 25 and confirmed by a dealer upset with the development, according to Automotive News. In the letter, Honda cites the ongoing pandemic and microchip shortages as major factors impacting its production efforts. Total shipments to dealers could be cut by up to 40 percent, but not all models will be affected to the same degree.

The letter noted that supplies of the Pilot and Passport SUVs will hold steady, and shared that production of the Civic hatchback is on schedule. However, the situation is fluid and could change at any time, so there's a chance that timelines could speed up or slack off as necessary.


2022 Honda Pilot Some models will see more cuts than others.Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc


Honda is just the latest in a long line of automakers struggling to keep pace with demand in the face of several converging global crises. In an effort to keep vehicles rolling out of factories, General Motors has implemented selective feature cuts in some of its new vehicles, such as the removal of engine start/stop tech from some trucks and SUVs. Earlier this month, Ford Motor Company told Mustang Mach-E buyers to expect delays of at least six weeks as it grapples with the chip shortage, and will temporarily reduce production capacity at a few of its plants.

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Vehicle sales numbers

Toyota has sold over 50 million Corollas

Toyota has sold tens of millions of Corollas over the last 55 years.

Toyota

The Toyota Corolla entered its 12th generation in 2019, after more than 50 years on sale. Now, in 2021, the automaker says the car has reached another benchmark, this time with an almost unbelievable number attached to it. In Today, Toyota says that in July 2021, it sold the 50-millionth Corolla. That's almost one Corolla sold for every six Americans alive today, though the sales total includes international vehicles as well.


1969 Toyota Corolla The Corolla's frugal powertrain helped it grow quickly in the United States.Toyota


The Corolla debuted in 1966 but didn't make its way to our shores until spring 1968. Sold as a 1969 model, the car had a starting price of around $1,700 at a time when the median household income was $7,700. The first cars had a short-stroke 1,077-cc four-cylinder engine, 12-inch wheels, and a four-speed manual transmission. That powertrain produced only 60 horsepower, which was good for the car to (eventually) reach 60 mph in about 17 seconds.

Though the car's quality and design helped, it was the oil crisis in the early 1970s that really pushed it to the top of buyers' lists. Big American cars powered by V8 engines fell out of favor as fuel rationing and higher prices took hold. The early Corolla's fuel economy of over 35 mpg helped it earn a place in many Americans' driveways as a result.


2021 Toyota Corolla Cross 2021 Toyota Corolla Cross Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Corporation


Toyota notes that it was building Corollas in the United States by the mid-1980s and says that the current generation car is built at its manufacturing facility in Mississippi. The automaker's new joint plant with Mazda, which is located in Huntsville, Alabama, will start building the new Corolla Cross this summer.

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