Prius is STILL the Most Fuel-Efficient Car

Well, here’s some car-related news that’s worthy of attention.
Last week, United States’ E.P.A. (Environmental Protection Agency) has released its latest list of fuel-efficient vehicles. And guess what car won first place in the list of top 10 economical cars? The Toyota Prius… again! According to the Japanese article at carview.co.jp, this is the 4th consecutive year in which the Prius has emerged victorious among a multitude of green cars.

Amazingly enough, the latest Prius has managed to run 21.68km per litre in the city (that’s 51MPG!) and 20.4km/l (48MPG) on the highway.

EPA's Greenest Car

EPA's Greenest Car: Toyota Prius

Here is the top 10 list:

1:Toyota Prius
2:Ford Fusion Hybrid
3:Honda Civic Hybrid
4:Honda Insight
5:Lexus HS250h
6:Nissan Altima Hybrid
7:Ford Escape Hybrid
8:Smart ForTwo
9:Toyota Camry Hybrid
10:Lexus RX450h

It’s interesting to note that 9 of the top 10 vehicles are hybrids, cars that move by means of an electric motor as well as an engine. The only non-hybrid car in there is the tiny Smart ForTwo (which I am personally quite fond of, because it’s so cute). Even better is the fact that 7 of the cars are Japanese: 4 Toyota/Lexus, 2 Hondas, and a Nissan.

For a more detailed list, check out this link: Most and Least Fuel-Efficient Cars.

As you can see on that link, on the other end of the fuel-efficiency scale are big expensive supercars like the Lamborghini Murcielago, Ferrari 612 Scaglietti and the Bentley Continental. While the MPG figures for those cars are pretty depressing to look at, I guess that if people can afford those cars in the first place, they won’t have any trouble keeping their gas tanks filled. I wish I were one of them!

On another note, I must mention that I have fallen in love with the 10th car on the list: Lexus RX450h. Without a doubt, this is one of the most beautiful luxury SUVs I have ever set eyes on!

Lexus RX450h

Lexus RX450h

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New School Security Guard

Hi everyone. This is Jamie from sales department. How are you guys doing lately?
Are you ready for Halloween??
My best experience at Halloween is my first year in the US, which is back in 1997….. wow such a long time ago.

Anyway, today’s topic is this : Security guard in fancy machine.
Please check out this pictures.
Honestly, I could not recognize him until he got closer to me like this distance.
He is a security man at Nagoya International Airport.
Isn’t it fancy? Japanese security peopel are getting lazy or what?

Toyota i-Real Kei

Toyota i-Real Kei

Toyota i-Real Kei

Toyota i-Real Kei

It’s already a robot, isn’t it?

Since I got so curious about this ride, I had a small chat with him.
He said he can lean back a little bit when it’s not moving. I was like “is this a sofa”??
He said it can go as fast as people’s normal running speed, so that they can catch bad people.

mmm…if I were him, I could easily fall in sleep in there.
I give him a gold medal for “the cutest secury man of the year”. What do you think?

Narita Airport

Nagoya Airport

The Smallest Car in the World?

Hi everyone, it’s Maki here again. This is my first post on this blog in a few weeks, so let’s hope I can make this at least a little interesting to read.

These days, with fuel price and the prices of so many other things on the rise, many people are turning their attention to cost-efficient small cars. In fact, there are so many small hatchbacks in Japan today that it’s practically impossible to keep track of all their names.

And actually, these cars actually make a lot of sense: most of them can seat up to 5 people, carry luggage in the back (albeit not very large ones), require a refill only once in a blue moon, can effortlessly conquer narrow roads, and most importantly, will get you where you want to go. So, unless you need to drive on muddy hills, carry tons of luggage or have a large family, there is no need to own a big car; for many people, a small hatch can be just the kind of car they need.

Let me show you a few examples of popular small Japanese cars that are commonly found in stock at Autocom Japan. (To see the entire stock list click here)

Toyota Vitz

Toyota Vitz

KSP90

Honda Fit

Honda Fit

GD1

Nissan March

Nissan March

AK12

Toyota Ist

Toyota Ist

NCP61

Suzuki Swift

Suzuki Swift

ZC11S

They are all good, reliable machines.
My intent today, however, is not to show you every little detail of these cars to show you how good they are; I don’t know well enough about them to do that. Instead, I’d like to show you how small cars can possibly get and still be functional as… well, a car.

So which of the cars above is the smallest? To be honest, none of them are.They are, in fact, giants compared to what is known today as “the smallest car ever to go into production”: the Peel P50.

And here’s a photo of it. Isn’t it the cutest thing?

Peel-P50

It looks like a cyclops with its single headlamp. Ok, so I have to tell you first that this is NOT a Japanese car, it is 100% British, manufactured by Peel in the Isle of Man during the early 1960’s. (People often say that we Japanese are the best at making small things, but it looks like the Brits have beaten us to it this time)
The car seats only one adult, weighs less than 60kg, and its engine capacity is no more than 49cc.
Instead of writing about this as if I know everything, I should just refer you to its wikipedia article here, from where I got all the info.
I did not know of this vehicle’s existence until I happened upon a video of famed British TV show Top Gear, in which presenter Jeremy Clarkson, who is 6ft5in tall, crammed himself into this tiny little car and drove himself around London. In my honest opinion, it’s one of the best Top Gear features ever, and a timeless classic.

Here is that famous Top Gear video clip for everyone to see:

According to Wikipedia, the Peel P50 can do 100MPG(!!). I’d say that’s more than economical enough for me! Of course, a car of this size is way too small to drive around safely in these days, and I’m sure everyone wants cars that seat more than a single person. Still, it’s interesting to see the kinds of small cars that people have been making decades ago, and how they have changed over the years.

By the way, this little Peel is now a vintage car and costs many, many times more than any of the Japanese cars pictured above. Amazing!

My Dad’s Car

Today, I want to share with you what kind of vehicles my sugar daddy…..oops, my real daddy has owned and driven in his life so far.
I have almost zero memory for his 1st vehicle, but I kind of remember that it was a silver car.
I was too little to remember.

From the second car, I have good memory. It was Mazda Familia in blue color.
As a kid’s point of view, I didn’t like it at all because I felt like my neighbor had a better and nice looking car. sorry, dad…..
We used to visit my grandparents house by this Familia, which is about 100km away from our home.
It was about 2 hour trip, but it was a good trip for me. Nice memory, indeed.

A few years later, he changed to Toyota Mark II. (don’t remember when exactly….)
I was big enough to make a comment on his choice and I insisted on body color.
We settled down on 2-tone body color after all. It was a tough argument in my family.

Then, he switched to Toyota Crown. (again…don’t rememeber when exactly…… sorry)
On this vehicle, I have less memory because I was away most of the time.
Plus, I think he took this car to his apartment in Osaka and Tokyo.
It’s a long story, but he was living away by himself. Don’t worry, this is just work purpose, not getting ready for devorce purpose.

In 2006, he crushed and made this car total scrap.
The car protected my parents and they just did a regular check up. That was all.

Then, he purchased another Toyota Crown right away. Now I know it’s a 2006 year model GRS180 because I ASKED HIM.
When I was in Nagoya (my hometown), I used to drive this car for local activity.
To me, what was interesting on this unit was that there is a system called “voice command”.

I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but usually the system doesn’t recognize my command…..
I had to do it by myself after all……

Dad, please give it to me and get another one.

IMG00014-20090720-1444IMG00015-20090720-1445
IMG00018-20090720-1447

Hybrid cars forced to create noise pollution?

Hi there, this is Maki again.
This is a small update on my last post about hybrid cars.
Remember what I said about the hybrid Toyota Harrier being so silent that it might be a potential health hazard to pedestrians? Well, I’ve just read this article on BBC News, and it looks like Toyota may have to consider adding noise to their hybrid vehicles, because blind pedestrians (who rely on sound for guidance) cannot hear the cars coming and might be hit.

According to what they say,

The panel is considering forcing manufacturers of hybrid cars to introduce a sound-making function that alerts passersby to the presence of a vehicle.

Click here to read the BBC News article.prius

What kind of noise are they going to add to the new Prius, I wonder? I suggest either ice cream truck music or the engine noise of a Lamborghini Murcielago LP640 firing up… that should be enough to alert any passers-by, blind or not.

Why the superb Toyota Harrier Hybrid is not the car for me

Since this is my first post on this blog, I will introduce myself: my name is Maki, and I am the accountant here at Autocom Japan. I handle all the money that goes in and out the company, and occasionally dabble in other work such as advertisement design.
I am also a petrolhead; I love all things with an engine and four wheels, especially those rare, expensive metals loaded with tons of horsepower.
So, today I would like to talk about my experience in the most technically advanced car I have ever driven: the Toyota Harrier Hybrid 2008 (or Lexus RX Hybrid).

Harrier Hybrid, the most sophisticated car I've ever driven

Harrier Hybrid, the most sophisticated car I've ever driven

First and foremost of all, let me inform you that I do not own a Harrier. A huge luxury SUV is not the kind of car a 22-year-old girl should be driving, much less be able to afford. But I got to drive it at a test-driving course set aside specifically for that purpose by Toyota. And what a car!
Here are a few of the things that impressed me:

1. It’s so eerily quiet to drive. That is of course due to the car being a hybrid, running entirely on its electric motor during the course of my drive without the use of its powerful 3000cc engine. It’s so silent, in fact, that I think it could possibly be a health hazard to unwary pedestrians crossing the road!

2. It’s very, very comfortable inside… not very surprising in a heavy luxury car, but the ride was so smooth that it almost felt like the car was floating and gliding over the road. It’s great as long as the driver doesn’t fall asleep from being too comfortable.

3. All of the interior – especially the dashboard – look awesome! It has enough cool buttons and gadgets to keep any driver or passenger entertained during long drives.

I now understand why the Harrier is so popular among men: it looks cool, sporty and luxurious at the same time, and when you’re driving it you start to feel invincible, as if you were in a heavily armored tank.

However, as I was climbing out the car after my drive, I could not help thinking “was I really driving it?” Sure, I was behind the wheel, making turns, signalling, pressing down the gas and the break. Only it did not feel like I was in direct control of the car, but more like I was telling its in-built computer what to do, and that computer was in turn directing the car. So, when asked how the driving experience was, I wasn’t sure how to answer.

Now, let me take you back a couple years back in my lifetime, back to a time when I lived on the island of Hawaii. The car I and my roommates drove back then was an old gray Nissan Maxima. I don’t know exactly how old the car was, only that the model was first produced in 1989. And what can I say… the car was like the exact opposite of the afore-mentioned Harrier: a plain, old, half-broken-down car. Here’s why…

The Nissan Maxima, in one of its better days

The Nissan Maxima, on one of its better days

1. The air-conditioner never worked correctly so that the windows often had to be opened to let in the fresh tropical breeze… along with all the noxious fumes from surrounding cars and lorries. Oh, joy.

2. The steering was crooked so that if I let go of the wheel, the car would automatically veer to the left and into the opposing lane (this is in America, with right-side lanes).

3. No matter how diligently we washed and cleaned it, it always looked as if someone had poured acid over its bonnet.

4. Occasionally, the car stubbornly refused to start its engine at all and was therefore completely useless.

However, when the old Maxima did obey its driver, despite the hot, humid air, despite the coughing engine noise and the crooked steering, and despite its shabby looks, it could sometimes create a truly wonderful driving experience. I could feel each part of the car working hard, moving and responding directly to me, and it gave me a sense of freedom.
After driving the new Harrier Hybrid, I realized that that was what was missing from my driving experience in it. I could not “feel” the car like I could in the Maxima.

So, you might ask, what’s my point in comparing these two vastly different cars? One is an epitome of modern Japanese engineering, while the Maxima is just a plain, out-dated car by today’s standards.
My point is this: modern, technologically-advanced cars can sometimes be so sophisticated that there is very little left for the driver to do, and therefore lose a lot of that “connection” between car and driver. Don’t get me wrong, the Toyota Harrier Hybrid is an excellent car. I strongly recommend it to anyone who wants a sporty SUV that is both luxurious and economical at the same time. Toyota really does some amazing things.

…but sometimes, depending on time and place, and if I could choose between the two, I would much rather go out for a drive in an old beaten-up Maxima.

– Speaking of Toyota Harriers, though, we usually have a few for sale on our website… somewhat older and definitely not hybrids, but Harriers none the less. Please feel free to take a look and see other cars as well if you’re interested. Click here to see our stock list