Toyota Resurrects Venza Crossover as New Hybrid, Unveils Redesigned Sienna Minivan

First Up 05/19/20

Toyota Resurrects Venza Crossover as New Hybrid, Unveils Redesigned Sienna Minivan

Toyota Motor is resurrecting the Venza crossover as a new hybrid model as it pivots to electrify its vehicle lineup, reports CNBC. The Japanese automaker unveiled the midsize crossover as well as a redesigned Sienna minivan virtually on Monday. Both vehicles will exclusively be available with gasoline-electric hybrid powertrains. “Both of these products, I think, really represent our next step to what we committed that we will have 100% electrification across our entire lineup by 2025,” Bob Carter, executive vice president of sales for Toyota Motor North America, told reporters during a call. They’re “two exciting products.” The Venza will be available beginning this summer, followed by the Sienna toward the end of the year, Carter said. Read more here. 

Pioneering Dealer Jack Pohanka Dies at 92

Jack Pohanka — a pioneer in dual franchising who coined the term "megadealer" and a former NADA president — died Sunday. He was 92, reports Automotive News. He was chairman of the Pohanka Automotive Group, primarily serving the Washington, D.C., area. Pohanka became its dealer principal in 1958 after the death of his father, Frank. Today, the group employs about 1,600 people across 17 new-vehicle stores and one nonfranchised store in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, and Texas. "He loved the car business, loved the car dealers," Pohanka's son Geoffrey, president of the dealership group, told Automotive News. "He was happy to give back to the industry that he cared so much about." Pohanka, who was named an Automotive News Visionary Dealer in 2009, said he was the first U.S. auto dealer to sell both foreign and domestic vehicles. “In those days, you were either a foreign or domestic dealer. I dualed Fiat with [Oldsmobile]. I didn't realize what I was doing. I always wanted a better franchise," he told Automotive News in 2006. Read more here. 

Polestar Set to Open First U.S. Dealerships

Polestar, Volvo’s all-electric vehicle spinoff, has signed up its first U.S. dealers and plans to open the new “Polestar Spaces” during the second half of this year with two new models, the plug-in hybrid Polestar 1 and all-electric Polestar 2, reports The Detroit Bureau. Polestar is one of an assortment of ground-up battery-car brands hoping to crack into the traditionally closed U.S. market, a group that also includes Lucid, Faraday Future, and Rivian, among others. “We have been able to partner with retailers that that embrace Polestar’s innovative retail and service models. This will of course be a major benefit to our customers,” Gregor Hembrough, head of Polestar USA, said in a news release. “With more than 80% of Polestar 2 reservation holders residing within a 150-mile range of the Spaces scheduled to open by mid-2021, customers will be well supported throughout their relationship with Polestar.” Like Tesla, the Swedish EV start-up is hoping that it can crack into the U.S. market with a line-up of distinctive battery-cars. Read more here.

Mitsubishi Slumps to Quarterly Loss, Multiplying Alliance Woes

Mitsubishi Motors Corp., already mired in losses before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, sank into the red in the latest quarter as sales and production plunged, reports Automotive News. The Japanese automaker swung to a net loss of 14 billion yen ($129.9 million) in the fiscal fourth quarter ended March 31, the company said Tuesday. The reversal marked a third-straight quarter of net losses and compared with net income of 63.7 billion yen ($590.9 million) a year earlier. Operating profit plunged 66 percent to 9.2 billion yen ($85.3 million) in the three-month period. Revenue shrank 17 percent to 603.4 billion yen ($5.6 billion), as worldwide retail sales retreated 28 percent to 251,000 units, amid tumbling sales in Japan, Europe and Southeast Asia. Like rivals across the industry, Mitsubishi is reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has undercut worldwide demand, disrupted supply chains and forced factory shutdowns. Read more here. 

Americans Still Don't Trust Self-Driving Cars, Poll Shows

Bloomberg reports that nearly half of Americans say they would not get in a self-driving taxi, according to a poll commissioned by the advocacy group Partners for Automated Vehicle Education. The poll, conducted online in February and March by SurveyUSA, found widespread skepticism and confusion about autonomous vehicles. Of the 1,200 adults surveyed, 48% said they would “never get in a taxi or ride-share vehicle that was being driven autonomously,” while 21% said they were unsure about it. A fifth of respondents said that AVs would never be safe, and another fifth stated incorrectly that it is possible “to own a completely driverless vehicle today.” The latest survey results echo previous polls that suggest a potential problem regarding consumer acceptance of self-driving cars. Read more here. 

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