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Sunday, April 24, 2016

TMMTX Manufactures Clean Water, Power . . . and Trucks

At Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas (TMMTX), Earth Day is every day. The plant, which builds both the Tundra and Tacoma trucks, recycles 1.2 million gallons of water. Every. Day. By cleaning the water received from San Antonio Water Systems, using it, then cleaning it again, TMMTX has been returning better quality water than it received from the system since 2007. While that amount of water recycling is a tremendous achievement, it is not the stopping point for sustainability at TMMTX.
TMMTX’s newest project, a partnership with CPS Energy, will see two acres of solar panels installed on the TMMTX campus. The solar panels will be located near the plant’s Visitor and Education Center, providing an education opportunity for the thousand-plus visitors who tour the plant monthly.
With two acres of solar panels on the site, TMMTX will generate about 200 kilowatt hours (KWH) of energy. That is a whopping cost savings of $12,000 a year.
Previous projects focused on water and energy savings. One project recovers water from the coils of heating ventilation and provides 14.5 million gallons of make-up water to the plant’s cooling tower each year, reducing dependence on public water. Another project to improve air compressor controls saved over two million KWHs annually. Finally, boiler efficiency improvements generated a savings of over 22 million cubic feet of natural gas – enough energy to power 450 homes for a year.
TMMTX’s future continues to look green, with an LED light replacement project continuing throughout the plant and an ultrafiltration project planned to help reclaim even more water and the continuation of TMMTX’s zero-landfill goal.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Toyota Motor N.A. Inspires K-College Students with a $1 Million Gift to SAE International’s AWIM 'LearnTwice' STEM Initiatives

  • This sponsorship strengthens the AWIM STEM experience into K-8 classrooms where Toyota team members live and work.
  • There are currently over 110,000 K-8 students enrolled in AWIM in all 50 states.
  • The AWIM “LearnTwice” initiative will provide a memorable learning experience for K-8 students, as well as university students participating in the SAE Colligate Design Series.
Toyota Motor North America (TMNA) announced a gift of $1 million to strengthen and expand access to “A World in Motion,” (AWIM), the Society of Automotive Engineers’ high-quality science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education program.
Toyota’s investment also supports the AWIM “LearnTwice” initiative” by creating a pathway for university students to participate in AWIM classrooms throughout the U.S.
“SAE International is honored and humbled by Toyota’s generosity and its confidence in our STEM programs,” said David L. Schutt, PhD, SAE International chief executive officer. “As a leader and long-time partner in the STEM community, Toyota’s gift to the SAE International Foundation will allow us to further invest in our entire K-16 STEM portfolio that supports the next generation of engineers through their educational journey.”
The AWIM “LearnTwice” initiative is based on the notion that to teach is to learn twice. Asking university students to teach and mentor younger learners on STEM concepts allows them to gain a better understanding of how these concepts are integrated and applied to their own studies. Additionally, this opportunity allows university students to give back to their local community and will also meet community service hours that an increasing number of universities are requiring for graduation. 
“I am particularly excited that Toyota’s support will enable university students to become role models and mentors for K-12 students as they discover the wonder and the possibilities of science, engineering and mathematics and begin dreaming of careers in the mobility industry,” said Latondra Newton, chief social innovation officer at Toyota Motor North America.  “We are proud to partner with SAE, an organization committed to educating, training and inspiring the next generation of automotive leaders.”

EPA Recognizes Toyota as Environmental Leader for 12th Consecutive Year

Since 2002, Toyota has saved over 16 billion kilowatt hours of electricity. That is the equivalent of powering 995,000 average American homes for an entire year.  Saving that much energy across Toyota’s 14 North American manufacturing facilities could not have been possible without the individual efforts of team members to reduce energy use in their processes and work areas. Their efforts have enabled Toyota to earn its twelfth consecutive U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Energy Star Partner of the Year Award.
“Being named an Energy Star Partner of the Year is a tremendous honor,” said Toyota’s Plant and Environmental Engineering Group General Manager Robin Haugen.  “Earning that honor twelve years in a row is testament to the dedication of our team members to reduce our carbon footprint and become an environmental leader in our industry.”
Specific examples of energy reduction efforts resulting in cost savings of more than $82 million in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2016, include: 
  • Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi – Chiller System Efficiency Improvements
  • Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia – Compressed Air System Efficiency Improvements
  • Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky – HVAC Variable Frequency Drives
  • Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas – Compressed Air System Efficiency Improvements, Paint Process Water       
  • Reduction and replacement of paint department overhead lighting with LED
  • Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada – Natural Gas Steam Turbines with Heat Recovery & Paint Process Humidification Efficiency Improvements
Since Benchmarking began in 2002, Toyota has realized cost savings of more than $640 million and reduced overall energy consumption by 35%.  This could not have been possible without the support and commitment from Toyota’s senior leadership to reduce our environmental impact by supporting energy reduction projects such as replacing fluorescent light fixtures and HVAC control systems with more energy efficient types.  Toyota Team Members play a big role in our energy reduction activities, identifying low and no cost kaizens and sharing ideas across all of our plants.  All this adds up to huge energy reductions across Toyota manufacturing facilities.
Energy Star Partners of the Year were recognized during ceremonies Wednesday, April 13, at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Behind the Camera, Behind the Wheel: Teen Filmmakers Address Driving Safety

Toyota and Discovery Education Announce Finalists in the Toyota TeenDrive365 Video Challenge; 
Public Can Vote Online for People’s Choice Winner until April 25 
Teen filmmakers across the country are using their position behind the camera to encourage safer behavior behind the wheel. Today, Toyota and Discovery Education announced the ten finalists of the Toyota TeenDrive365 Video Challenge. Now in its fifth year, the Challenge invites teens to create short videos to inspire their peers to drive more safely and avoid risky behavior. This year, more than 1,500 students entered the competition – the highest number of submissions ever received.
Toyota and Discovery Education invite the public to watch the ten finalist videos and vote through April 25 for the People’s Choice winner, who will receive a $5,000 prize and a behind-the-scenes trip to a taping of a Velocity network show. 
In addition to the People’s Choice winner, a panel of judges from Toyota and Discovery Education will choose several other prize winners. The first place winner will receive $15,000 and will work with a Discovery film crew to reshoot their video into a TV-ready PSA to air on a variety of Discovery networks. 
Other prizes include:
  • Second place prize - $10,000 and a behind-the-scenes trip to a Velocity network show taping
  • Third place prize - $7,500
  • Fourth to tenth place prizes - Each receives $2,500
  • Four regional prizes - Each receives $1,000
“We launched the Toyota TeenDrive365 Video Challenge five years ago with Discovery Education because we wanted another way to engage young people in our commitment to make the roads safer for us all,” said Mike Goss, General Manager, Social Innovation, Toyota Motor North America. “We were blown away by the creativity of the submissions this year and it was tough to choose the finalists. Some of the videos were funny, others were profound, but all inspired us to think even more deeply about the importance of driving safely.”
The Video Challenge is one component of Toyota and Discovery Education’s TeenDrive365In School initiative, a comprehensive program offering a range of tools designed specifically for high school educators and teens. Resources offered include tools to help teens prepare for the responsibility of driving, such as quizzes, parental discussion points, and a financial calculator; classroom resources for educators, including standards-aligned lesson plans for grades 9-12; and Heads UP!, an interactive simulation which allows teens to virtually experience the real dangers of distracted driving.
The program is part of Toyota TeenDrive365, a comprehensive initiative to help teens and parents become safer drivers together. Building on the programs Toyota has offered for more than a decade, it offers a collection of online tools, events, expert advice and tips as well as social media elements.  TeenDrive365 is adding two new features this year to build on its extensive resources for teens.
  • Virtual Field Trip to Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana – Hosted by Cristy Lee, star of Velocity’s All Girls Garage, this live online broadcast will take viewers on a guided tour to learn about the latest in robotics, automotive safety and production innovation. Students will get an exclusive look ‘under the hood’ at the careers offered in a manufacturing plant, hearing from experts such as Toyota engineers, production team members and executives. Classrooms will learn how Toyota is working with robotics and computers to increase auto safety. The trip will occur on May 3 at 12:00PM ET. To join, register
  • Science Behind Safe Driving Learning Module – This free interactive learning module helps educators explain the science behind safe driving to teens in a fun and engaging way (picture a cake traveling on top of a skateboard). To access the module, educators can visit
“We applaud this year’s finalists and their use of digital storytelling, creativity and passion to influence the behavior of their peers and ultimately help save lives,” said Bill Goodwyn, president and CEO at Discovery Education. “Discovery Education is proud to partner with Toyota on addressing this critical issue by empowering young people to make smart decisions behind the wheel through engaging digital resources and experiences.”
To learn more about the resources offered through TeenDrive365: In School, go to

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Vehicle of Choice for Geeks? Toyota Prius c

Here in the Puget Sound, the home of Amazon, Expedia, Microsoft, and Boeing, we are also home to lots geeks. The good news is Burien Toyota has the perfect car for geeks because it is the official car of the Geek Squad!

An armada of agents is about to roll out in Toyota Prius c. Their mission: to help people across America get the most from their technology.

Starting today, Best Buy’s Geek Squad will dispatch more than 1,000 of the vehicles – fully decked out as the new Geekmobile – nationwide.

With more than five million house calls a year, Geek Squad Agents annually drive an estimated 12.6 million miles (or roughly 20.3 million kilometers, 100.8 million furlongs or 4.2 million leagues). That’s a lot of road (and gas), making the hip hatch’s EPA estimated city fuel economy of 53 mpg particularly attractive. The Prius c’s SULEV (Super ultra-low emissions vehicle) rating also is appealing given Best Buy’s commitment to reduce its own carbon emissions.

Geek Squad rolled out in 2004 as the first national computer support task force. And while the Prius c’s 17-plus cubic feet of cargo space might not fit a mainframe, it’s a volume spacious enough to shuttle just about anything an agent might need – whether optimizing a home theater system or improving Wi-Fi performance or installing a security solution.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Getting Back Up: Toyota Donates RAV4 Hybrid to Veteran Who Stands Tall

Army Sergeant First Class Jeffrey Hackett knew the house he and his fellow soldiers were trying to clear on Aug. 15, 2011, in Afghanistan could be occupied by the Taliban and armed with improvised explosive devices. He knew exactly what the wire sticking out of the ground meant and immediately turned around, but it was too late.

“The IED went off and the explosion threw me and then I hit the ground,” Hackett remembers. “At this point I thought I was just knocked down, pulled down my vest off my face attempted to get up, but I could not.”

Hackett lost his right leg and suffered serious injuries all over his body due to the blast. He was later diagnosed with PTSD. With help from his family and community, Hackett got back up.

Toyota and the New York International Auto Show joined forces to celebrate and honor Hackett, of Mexico, N.Y. On Saturday, March 26, Toyota donated a 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid to Hackett during the auto show’s opening ceremony, which was staged at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo presented Hackett with his new keys.

The Bussani Mobility Team of Bethpage, N.Y., outfitted Hackett’s new ride with a special steering controls as well as pedals that can all be used with a left foot. Toyota Financial Services also provided Hackett with its Platinum Toyota Extra Care Vehicle Service Agreement, which expands coverage for his RAV4 Hybrid for up to 6 years or 100,000 miles.
Also present during the auto show ceremony was another war hero, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Dakota Meyer. Meyer, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, has worked extensively with Toyota and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on the Hiring Our Heroes program.
“Sgt. First Class Hackett and his family embody service and sacrifice and determination,” said Toyota Vehicle Operations Manager Jason Keller. “We are thankful for the service and sacrifice of veterans like him.”
“It is a great honor to work with Toyota to provide Sgt. First Class Hackett and his family with a new vehicle,” said Bob Vail, chairman of the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association. “We are truly grateful for his service and for all of our soldiers and veterans who have kept us safe.” 

Hackett was medically retired from the U.S. Army in August 2013 after 19 years of service, which saw him serve two tours in Afghanistan and deployments around the world in places like Haiti, Kosovo and Panama. He earned more than a dozen awards, including the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal and Purple Heart.

The married father of three had to adjust to big changes after returning home an amputee. Living in a home not built for wheelchair use, the simplest chores turned into daunting tasks, but with help from his family, Hackett adapted and overcame obstacles.

“I let nothing stop me – if presented I will try it – and if I cannot do it the first time, I will find a way to do it,” Hackett said. “The fight is never over for veterans, regardless of the job they held during active duty. It has just begun.”

Friday, April 8, 2016

On the Road to Autonomous Driving, Toyota Establishes Ever Deeper Roots in Ann Arbor Tech Community with Third US Research Facility

Toyota Research Institute-ANN Will Fund Artificial Intelligence, Materials Science and Robotics Research at University of Michigan
Walking Distance to Campus, Facility Targets Staff of 50
 Dr. Gill Pratt, CEO of the Toyota Research Institute (TRI), announced today that Toyota will establish its third TRI facility in the U.S. The new facility will be located in Ann Arbor, near the University of Michigan (U-M) campus where it will fund research in artificial intelligence, robotics and materials science.  Joining the TRI facility established last January in Palo Alto working with Stanford (TRI-PAL), and in Cambridge working with MIT (TRI-CAM), TRI-ANN is scheduled to open in June and target a staff of approximately 50.
“Beyond the extraordinary work that U-M is doing broadly in advancing automotive safety research—and in autonomous driving, in particular-- Toyota has deep roots in the Ann Arbor community,” said Pratt, in keynote remarks at the GPU Technology Conference today. “TRI was drawn to Ann Arbor because of the strength of the university; the utility of Mcity and the Mobility Transformation Center which we currently sponsor; the promise of the future American Center for Mobility at Willow Run; and the proximity to, and synergies with, our two well-established Toyota Technical Centers nearby.”
The Toyota Technical Centers have been conducting research in the area of autonomous cars for more than a decade.  A group of about 15 team members will transfer to the new TRI-ANN facility when it opens.  U-M Professors Ryan Eustice and Edwin Olson are joining TRI-ANN as the area leads for mapping/localization and perception, respectively. Both will be based at the Ann Arbor office, and will retain their U-M faculty positions. 
"Sensor hardware and algorithms are improving at a tremendous pace. TRI researchers will push the frontier even further, with the goal of providing safer vehicles and more helpful robots in the home," said Olson.  Eustice added, “Ann Arbor is a fantastic location for TRI to expand its autonomous driving efforts. We will benefit from Toyota’s existing team and U-M’s research talent and facilities where we can perform extreme-limit testing in a wide variety of environments.”
Although the focus of each of the three strategically located facilities will be broad, each will feature a different core discipline.  TRI-ANN will focus primarily on fully autonomous (chauffeured) driving.  TRI-PAL will work on what may be termed “guardian angel” driving, where the driver is always engaged but the vehicle assists as needed. TRI-CAM will dedicate a large portion of its work to simulation and deep learning.
The Toyota Research Institute is an enterprise designed to bridge the gap between fundamental research and product development.  With initial funding of $1 billion, it has four initial mandates.
First, it will strive to enhance the safety of automobiles with the ultimate goal of creating a car that is incapable of causing a crash, regardless of the skill or condition of the driver.
Second, it will work to increase access to cars to those who otherwise cannot drive, including seniors and those with special needs.
Third, it will help translate Toyota’s expertise in creating products for outdoor mobility into products for indoor mobility; moving people and goods across the country, across town, or across the room.
Finally, TRI will accelerate scientific discovery by applying techniques from artificial intelligence and machine learning, particularly in the area of materials science.  Using computation and machine learning, it hopes to accelerate scientific discovery in this area, lowering costs and improving performance of future mobility systems.
Beyond the projects it will engage in with the three universities (more than 30 are already underway at Stanford and MIT), TRI is enthusiastically pursuing collaboration with other automakers, IT companies, suppliers, research labs and universities to jointly develop autonomous technologies.
“Although the industry, including Toyota, has made great strides in the last five years, much of what we have collectively accomplished has been easy, because most driving is easy,” said Pratt.  “Where we need autonomy to help most is when the driving is difficult.  It’s this hard part that TRI intends to address. Toyota’s goal is safer mobility for all, at any time, in any place, and the tremendous improvements in quality of life that such universal mobility can bring.”
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