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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Toyota TRD Aurion and Hilux

Toyota to unveil new brand, new vehicles

Toyota is drawing on its motorsport heritage to unveil a new performance brand at the Melbourne International Motor Show - TRD. TRD will offer vehicles that focus on refined performance and athletic driving dynamics. Its first two vehicles will be launched this year.

A division of Toyota Australia, the company's local engineers and designers draw on Toyota's global resources to develop the TRD vehicles in Australia. The first TRD performance vehicle, on display at the Melbourne show, will be based on the Aurion sedan and is due to be launched in the third quarter of this year. TRD's second model will be derived from the TRD HiLux Concept 4x4 double cab being shown in Melbourne and will be launched by the end of the year. Both new TRD vehicles will feature supercharged engines and a range of engineering and styling enhancements. TRD plans to expand and develop its model line-up, but has not released details. The TRD product range will be sold through a select network of TRD dealers drawn from the Toyota network.

"This is a world first for Toyota - and it is happening in Australia," said David Buttner, Toyota Australia senior executive director sales and marketing. It is the first time TRD has been established as a separate brand under Toyota. It is the first time anywhere in the world Toyota will engineer and market a range of complete vehicles under the TRD banner. We will increase the desirability of the Toyota brand by drawing on Toyota's motorsport heritage. TRD will add a new dimension to the Toyota brand in Australia."

The launch of the first TRD performance vehicles coincides with the 50th anniversary of Toyota's global involvement in motorsport. To mark the establishment of the performance-vehicle division, Toyota's rally team was last year renamed Team TRD.

"Motorsport is the ultimate test-bed for engineers," Mr Buttner said. "The lessons learnt by Team TRD in the forest will be applied to the development of the TRD range of performance vehicles. While Toyota will undertake all design and engineering development for TRD vehicles, final assembly will be carried out by our production supplier, Prodrive."

TRD Aurion at Melbourne Motor Show

Toyota's new performance sedan is one step closer to fruition with the TRD Aurion on display at the Melbourne International Motor Show. Toyota Style Australia finalised the look of the TRD Aurion under the direction of exterior designer Lee Moran and interior designer Anthony Cheung. The exterior aesthetic took inspiration from Toyota's Formula One car. Those influences are most evident in the graphic of the front splitter, the wheel design and the 'diffuser'-style rear. Mr Moran described the TRD Aurion as a vehicle that projects a "powerful and dynamic presence". To continue the F1 theme, Mr Cheung said the team worked on performance-oriented styling with a European flavour.

"The entire vehicle has a purposeful, high tech style with refinement and attention to detail," he said. "The graphic break-up on the steering wheel echoes the hand grip areas on the Toyota F1 wheel." The vehicle's seats suggest a styling evocative of a racing seat, with high lateral support and material changes that work with the driver. "We have incorporated high-grip materials in key areas to brace the occupant," said Mr Cheung. "The interior is performance-focused, but in a very refined way."

Toyota chief engineer Stephen Castles completed mechanical specifications for the vehicle, which include the use of a locally developed supercharger assembly. "At the planning stage of the TRD Aurion we analysed where best to spend our development dollars to give the maximum benefit to the TRD customer. The most immediate differences are the styling enhancements to the exterior and interior: but it's the dynamic performance of the TRD Aurion that really separates it from the standard vehicle. We have put a lot of effort into improving the engine performance and driveability, brake performance and vehicle handling. Most importantly, we concentrated on integrating all of the elements which impact on the driving experience into a balanced and agile vehicle package," he said.

TRD Aurion will boast a supercharged 3.5-litre dual VVT-i V6 engine that has been developed with a target of producing at least 235kW. Power will be transmitted via a six-speed automatic transmission and through multi-spoke 19-inch wheels. Upgrades to braking and suspension systems have also been incorporated.

Mr Castles explained that the vast majority of components developed for the TRD Aurion were sourced locally. "There is a great amount of experience and expertise within the local supplier base in developing and manufacturing performance products. Our engineering team has worked closely with a number of suppliers to develop designs, manufacture and evaluate prototype components and conduct on-vehicle evaluation. Two of these suppliers are Harrop Engineering, who developed the application of the Eaton TVS supercharger, and PBR, who developed an outstanding brake package for this vehicle."

Vital testing and integration of components was completed by Toyota with technical assistance from the Orbital Engine Company. "The work of Orbital Engine Company in testing our engine modifications and working with our calibration engineer to establish engine ECU mapping has been critical to the success of this project. We see the collaboration with key local suppliers as crucial to maintaining the Toyota DNA of Quality, Durability and Reliability," said Mr Castles.

He said the TRD engineering team is made up of car enthusiasts who "embrace the additional freedoms of working on a niche vehicle when compared with mass-production vehicles". "We are all passionate about the TRD Aurion; it is such a wonderful product. The quality of vehicle, the way it drives and handles, are a direct result of the skills of the TRD engineering team," he said. The TRD Aurion is scheduled for launch in August 2007.

TRD HiLux Concept debuts at Melbourne Motor Show

TRD will showcase its new vision for a tough truck at the Melbourne International Motor Show with the first showing of its TRD HiLux Concept double cab 4WD. The TRD HiLux Concept takes the TRD badge into another sector of specialised vehicles. It is designed to appeal to Australia's SUV and commercial vehicle buyers. Styling cues for the TRD HiLux Concept's design were inspired by the TRD Aurion, which is also on display at the Melbourne International Motor Show.

TRD's family resemblance is easily recognised in the evolution of the Aurion's surface language around the vehicle's cooling slots, as well as in the lower 'mouth' area that on the HiLux incorporates openings for a nudge bar. The TRD HiLux has an added toughness that befits a multi-purpose utility vehicle. The TRD HiLux has 17-inch six-spoke wheels with machine-faced and organically sculpted painted centres. The wheel design was chosen to suggest motion even when the vehicle is stationary. TRD graphics feature prominently to clearly differentiate it from existing HiLux vehicles.

The rear of the vehicle features a vertical graphic and colour-coded bumper, while the front has an embossed TRD logo on the grille upper frame and a signature graphic on the mesh. Driving lights have been added and protected by a unique surround, while the B pillars have been blacked out to visually extend the glass side areas. A revised side step with the TRD logo also defines the vehicle's profile. To complete the tray area, a sports bar has been designed in black to pick up the colour cues evident on the sides and back of the vehicle. This sports bar also incorporates the TRD branding.

Production versions of the TRD HiLux will have a 4.0-litre V6 supercharged engine to boost performance, in line with TRD's mission to offer customers integrated performance vehicles. They will also have upgraded suspension, brakes and other performance enhancements. Toyota anticipates that TRD HiLux will be launched in Australia by the end of 2007.

Fifty years and still racing

Toyota celebrates 50 years in motorsport in 2007 - and as always it will compete in the world's leading categories, in doing so developing technology that directly benefits its production car range. Toyota's motorsport heritage has grown from humble beginnings in 1957, when a lone Toyopet Crown de Luxe set off from Melbourne to compete in the 17,000 kilometre Round Australia Trial. Crewed by two Japanese Toyota employees and assisted by an Australian navigator, the trio successfully completed the 19-day epic.

Their participation signalled the start of Toyota's longstanding relationship with Australia and proved the catalyst for Toyota's motorsport passion. Toyota scored its first win with a Toyota Crown in the 1958 Round Japan Rally, but its success blossomed with the opening of the Suzuka Circuit in 1962. Class wins for a Crown, a Corona and a Publica in the touring car event at the 1963 Japanese Grand Prix provided Toyota with the incentive to further develop its motorsport program. The legendary 2000GT was born in 1965, giving the company a true GT sports car that rivalled the best European machinery. Developed by an early incarnation of Toyota Racing Development (TRD), it recorded numerous international speed records, took third place in the 1966 Japanese Grand Prix and reached iconic status following its appearance in the James Bond Film You Only Live Twice.

Toyota then unleashed the Toyota 7 - its first dedicated race car. The Can-Am-based car powered by a 3-litre V8 won the Fuji 1000km race and the Japan Can-Am race in late 1969. After domestic economic conditions forced Toyota to switch its focus to overseas races, Toyota entered a 1.6-litre Celica in the World Rally Championship for the first time in 1972, piloted by Swedish driver Ove Andersson. The marriage of Toyota and Andersson would eventually pave the way to the birth of Toyota's Formula One program, but not before it set about dominating the World Rally Championship.

Rally great Hannu Mikkola handed Toyota its first victory in the 1975 1000 Lakes rally in Finland, the same year that Andersson formed Toyota Team Europe (TTE). TTE relocated from Brussels to Cologne in 1979 and major success followed, with multiple victories throughout the 1980s in the Ivory Coast and Safari rallies in Africa highlighting Toyota's strength and reliability.

Meanwhile, in 1985, Toyota Australia formed a new touring car team, Toyota Team Australia (TTA) which, with Corolla, went on to win its class in the Australian Touring Car Championship and the Bathurst 1000 each year until the team was disbanded in 1990 when the company turned its focus towards the Australian Rally Championship with Neal Bates. In 1990 Spaniard Carlos Sainz earned Toyota its first FIA Driver's World Championship at the wheel of a Celica GT-Four.

Meanwhile, Toyota entered the Le Mans 24-Hour with the TS010, finishing second in 1992 before narrowly missing victory in 1993 and again taking second in 1994. Toyota purchased TTE in 1993 and renamed it Toyota Motorsports GmbH. It won both the drivers' and manufacturers' world rally crowns in 1994 and 1995, before earning a third manufacturers' title in 1999.

In Australia, Neal Bates and Coral Taylor secured the first of three consecutive Australian Rally Championship (ARC) titles in 1993, and also claimed victory in Targa Tasmania. Toyota retuned to Le Mans in 1998 with the all-new GT-One, qualifying second and leading 1-2 for most of the race before mechanical difficulties scuttled their chances. Toyota announced in 1999 it would enter Formula One, using the Le Mans program based in Cologne as the foundation for its team. In the same year Martin Brundle secured pole at Le Mans with the GT-One, with the team's sister GT-One finishing second overall.

In 2000 Toyota secured its first CART series victory with Juan Pablo Montoya, before taking the championship in 2002 with Cristiano da Matta. Headed by Toyota stalwart Ove Andersson, Panasonic Toyota Racing debuted at the 2001 Australian Grand Prix with Mika Salo scoring a point after a tense battle with Australian Mark Webber.

In 2003 Toyota lead its first F1 race, secured the IndyCar title in its debut season and Toyota Team Racing (TTR) was formed, entering two Corollas in the ARC.
2005 saw Toyota finish fourth in the F1 constructors' title with both Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher securing the team's first podiums. In 2006 TTR was renamed TRD and Simon Evans secured the ARC drivers' crown and Toyota scored its first ARC manufacturers' title.

And in 2007, in the spirit of Toyota's core ideal of 'Kaizen' (or the spirit of continuous improvement) Toyota will undertake a new challenge in NASCAR.
Now in its 50th year in motorsport, Toyota has entered North America's premier racing series with the top-selling car for nine of the last 10 years in the US, the Toyota Camry.

Related entries:

Toyota TRD Aurion and HiLux at Melbourne
New Toyota Aurion: In Depth (AU)
Toyota TRD Aurion In Depth (AU)


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