SEMA360

Toyota Tacoma, Supra builds deliver two different types of extreme adventure

The Papadakis Racing Rockstar Energy Drink GR Supra is just one of the extreme builds Toyota is showing off during SEMA this year.

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

SEMA isn't being held in the long rooms of the Las Vegas Convention Center. This year, specialty equipment makers are showing off their goods online in an event called SEMA360. Toyota is taking the opportunity to unveil six new builds, four of which they have already revealed.

"When SEMA decided to go virtual, we knew we wanted to be a part of it because when we commit to something at Toyota, we see it through no matter what, and this year is no exception," said Ed Laukes, group vice president – Toyota Division Marketing. "For 2020, we're celebrating pure performance, both on and off road. Supra and Tacoma are legendary brands with legendary performance, so it made sense to use them to set the stage this year."

Here's what they brought.

4WD Toyota Owner Magazine Overland-Ready Tacoma

4WD Toyota Owner Magazine Overland-Ready Tacoma

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

From Toyota: "Seizing upon overlanding's growing popularity, the 4WD Toyota Owner Magazine editors dreamed up their own version of the ultimate rig with heavy duty features that align with Toyota's 'go anywhere and push your journey forward' ruggedness and reliability. This build, based on a Tacoma TRD Off-Road pickup, is a full-on outdoors lifestyle machine fitted with a Magnuson Superchargers Roots-type blower and is capable of carrying adventurers with room for their bikes, kayaks, and camping and hiking gear."

Ornamental Conifer GR Supra

Ornamental Conifer GR Supra

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

From Toyota: "This bold project features one-of-a-kind, eye-catching artwork by Ornamental Conifer, the moniker for British artist Nicolai Sclater who is art director at Race Service, the Los Angeles creative agency and culture hub connecting people who share a passion for car and pop culture. Inspired by enthusiasts' GR Supra builds, Sclater started with a beautiful canvas, a 2021 GR Supra 3.0 Premium in Turbulence Gray, adding expressions like 'True to Form' and 'Lightning Response' as nods to past and present Supra attributes. Meticulously working with enamel paint and brushes, Sclater hand painted every letterform and graphic, a painstaking tribute to the lost art of sign painting."

GReddy Performance Formula D GR Supra

GReddy Performance Formula D GR Supra

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

From Toyota: "Built by Ken Gushi Motorsports and GReddy Performance, driver Ken Gushi currently drives the No. 21 GR Supra in the 2020 Formula Drift Pro class. The build focused on three goals: efficiency, simplicity, and impact. As with all race cars, engineering a design that facilitates efficient and quick repairs can be the difference between winning and losing. The simplicity mandate pared down the package to only things needed in a pro drift racer, resulting in a simple and clean race car. Finally, impact – how the package resonates with drifting fans and accentuates the GR Supra's already stunning design – provides the visual and performance 'wow' factor fans enjoy."

Papadakis Racing Rockstar Energy Drink GR Supra

Papadakis Racing Rockstar Energy Drink GR Supra

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

From Toyota: "Built by Papadakis Racing, the 2020 GR Supra with its powerful B58 inline six-cylinder engine proved to be an excellent foundation for the organization's latest racing project. Driven by 2015 Formula Drift champion Fredric Aasbo, the No. 151 GR Supra enjoys tremendous notoriety thanks to the nine-episode YouTube series that documented the build and earned more than 14 million views. Aasbo and the 1,033-horsepower GR Supra are currently in contention for the championship in the 2020 Formula Drift Pro class."

Teaser: GR Supra Sport Top

Teaser: TRD Sport Trailer

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NXP Semiconductors has two chip plants in Texas that were effected by Winter Storm Uri.

Photo courtesy of NXP Semiconductors N.V.

The effects of Winter Storm Uri are still being felt across Texas and it's impacting the auto industry. Reporting by Reuters tells that chipmakers, like Samsung Electronics, are still weeks away from resuming normal operations in Texas.

Traditionally, this sort of production slowdown wouldn't much impact the industry. There would typically be enough dealership and inventory and automaker back stock to make up for many, if not all of the shortages for a short period of time. However, COVID-19 has put a strain on the chipmaking industry and is already slowing production, limiting sales, and hurting automaker bottom lines.

There's also been increased demand for semiconductor chips as sales of laptops, gaming consoles, and other entertainment and exercise equipment soared as coronavirus-related lockdowns changed lifestyles globally.

Ford and General Motors have both said that their 2021 sales and profits will be hit hard by the shortage. Additional analysis by Reuters says that Toyota has enough inventory to last four months while Hyundai and Kia, which share common ownership, purchased a stockpile of chips when production was going full steam in late December and are thus far unaffected.

Samsung and NXP Semiconductors shut their factories in Texas last month when Winter Storm Uri took hold. Like Lone Star State households, Texas businesses lost access to electricity, natural gas, and water.

Samsung's logic chip plant is located in Austin. It began operating 2017 and makes chips using Samsung's 14-nanometer, 28-nm and 32-nm chip production technologies. The facility is Samsung's biggest logic chip production facility outside of South Korea, where the company is headquartered. The company also has a NAND flash chip facility in Austin.

NXP's plants are also in Austin where the company has its corporate headquarters. While there are nine other NXP offices in the U.S., there are no other manufacturing sites.

Edward Latson, CEO of the Austin Regional Manufacturers Association, told Reuters that chipmakers now have the power, water and gas they need to operate, but they need time to restart tools and clean the factories. He characterized the process as being slow and "very expensive".

The one month of lost production is most likely to hit automakers hardest five months down the road, in the third quarter.

Many analysts had been predicting an uptick in new vehicle sales for 2021 after car sales rallied in the fourth quarter of 2020. However, these chip shortages are deeply impacting those sales predictions.

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San Jose Hotel engineering manager Rocky Ontiveros, 60, wears a Texas mask on March 3, 2021 in Austin, Texas. Gov. Greg Abbott announced a new executive order that will end the statewide mask mandate and allow businesses to reopen at 100 percent capacity on March 10, 2021.

Photo by Montinique Monroe/Getty Images

Reporting by Automotive News indicates that despite Texas Governor Greg Abbott's executive order lifting the mask mandate statewide and allowing businesses to begin operating at 100-percent capacity again, automakers aren't changing their tune.

This executive order rescinds most of the Governor's earlier executive orders related to COVID-19. The original orders were put in place as a response to rising COVID-19 cases, and related hospitalizations and deaths, in 2020.

The new order removes state regulations and allows private businesses and individuals to decide on their mask wearing protocol and habits. There are currently mask mandates in 35 states and the District of Columbia.

There are fallbacks in place. A release from the Governor's office states, "If COVID-19 hospitalizations in any of the 22 hospital regions in Texas get above 15% of the hospital bed capacity in that region for seven straight days, a County Judge in that region may use COVID-19 mitigation strategies. However, County Judges may not impose jail time for not following COVID-19 orders nor may any penalties be imposed for failing to wear a face mask. If restrictions are imposed at a County level, those restrictions may not include reducing capacity to less than 50% for any type of entity."

Toyota

Toyota, which has a factory in San Antonio, Texas told a reporter with Automotive News that they are looking into the move but don't anticipate any immediate changes to their mask-wearing protocol. Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas, Inc. employs 2,542 people and makes the midsize Tacoma and full-size Tundra pickup trucks.

The automaker as has its North American headquarters in Plano, Texas, a northern suburb of Dallas. That facility employs around 4,400 people, most of whom have been working remotely for the better part of a year.

"The early read is – no change for us," said Scott Vazin, Group Vice President and Chief Communications Officer for Toyota Motor North America, when approached for comment by Automotive News.

Toyota assembly plants traditionally offers tours of its facility to the general public. Due to COVID-19, plant tours have been suspended at all Toyota manufacturing facilities including those in San Antonio; Jackson, Tennessee; Blue Spring, Mississippi; and Troy, Missouri.

General Motors

General Motors (GM) has a big footprint in Texas. The company employs 8,133 people in the Lone Star State and works with 297 suppliers in the state across 13 facilities. Additionally, as of 2020, there are 588 GM dealership franchises in Texas.

The company's Arlington Assembly plant is home to every new full-size SUV in GM's product lineup sold globally: the Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe, GMC Yukon and Yukon XL, and the Cadillac Escalade. GM Financial is headquartered in Fort Worth and one of GM's IT Innovation Centers is located in Austin. Assembly plants get much of their power from wind energy harvested from Cactus Flats and Hidalgo wind farms.

There are GM Financial centers in San Antonio, Arlington, and Sugar Land; a customer service center in Austin; a parts distribution site in Fort Worth; GM Financial headquarters in Fort Worth; a commercial lending office and the South Central Regional Office are in Irving.

Patrick Morrissey, Director, Corporate News Relations at GM, told Automotive News, "We'll keep our COVID safety protocols in place to ensure we continue to protect our employees."

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