Auto Industry News: Toyota Sets Electric Bar, Killer Willys Build, and More

It’s a week of crushing goals, surprising recalls, impressive builds, great anticipation, and unfortunate closings. Toyota smashed its hybrid goal, while Mitsubishi preps for a 140,000+ recall and Volkswagen is trying to bounce back with a fan favorite. A ’45 Willys is a reminder why everyone loves a good war story, which always leaves a few battle wounds. Speaking of casualties, Raceway Park will no longer host drag events, as it’s set to close immediately. Read on for more details!

Toyota Crushes Hybrid Goal

With 1.52 million hybrids sold in 2017, Toyota buried the benchmark they had set for themselves. The ever-consistent (but always growing) automaker’s goal was 1.5 million sales… Oh yeah, through the year 2020. Two years shaved off? Not too bad, we’d say. Capping off 2017 totaled an 8% increase in hybrid sales from the previous year. And if you’re wondering about the big picture, you won’t be disappointed. With these new totals in, Toyota has eclipsed 11.47 vehicles sold since its EV mission began. Not to mention a reduction of more than 90 million tons of CO2. Who did that math? Who knows. What we do know is that Toyota continues to set the bar high and exceed those numbers with ease.

Massive Mitsubishi Recall

After celebrating a goal of their own, 100,000 vehicles sold last year, Mitsubishi now faces one of the biggest recalls in recent company history. 141,053 cars have been affected by the recall, kind of negating the 100K celebration and then some. The problem supposedly stems from Mitsubishi’s 4B11 engine. Belt detachments have been causing stall-outs in a variety of their vehicles like ‘09-‘12 Lancers, ‘08-‘12 Outlanders, ‘10-‘12 Lancer Sportbacks, and ’11-‘12 Outlander Sports. If owners see a “Battery Charge” warning indicator light up, they might need service, and should contact their dealer. They’re likely to bounce back from this massive step backward. At least it isn’t the scandalous nightmare their VW contemporaries are having, right?

Jetta fit for the Jetsons

Under the heaviest scrutiny the company has seen in a long time, the 2019 VW Jetta ups the German automaker’s tech game and looks toward the future. Sometimes to make progress, you have to return to what you know works. That’s why the 1.4-liter TSI engine is back. And because of that, the 2019 Jetta generates a respectable amount of torque (184 lb-ft, to be exact). Its 147 horsepower isn’t worth writing home to Mom about, but that’s never quite been the Jetta’s bag. However, the popular, cost-effective model is getting a bit more futuristic and moving on to the MQB platform. With this, the Jetta now touts a spacy digital cockpit display in its SEL and SEL Premium trims. And to top off its glimpse into millennia to come, LED lighting is now standard in the Jetta. Heck, maybe it’ll go all out and have outside, shape-shifting airbags. But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves.

’45 Willys MB Build

Moving from the future to a blast from the past... What we’ve got here is a classic build that has seen some days. And we’re not talking about getting knocked around the block. We’re not even talking a cross-country road trip. This ‘45 Willy’s MB showed up to Scott Zimmer’s shop with a .30 caliber bullet hole from its war days in the body. And Scott, in true badass fashion, left that as a decorative touch while restoring it. A bullet hole proved to be the least of his worries, as Scott also needed to replace the fuel tank strap, or else it wasn’t going anywhere. Other than that, he attempted to keep originals intact wherever possible. For example, Willys used Dana 25/Military axles with 4.88 gearing and those stayed right where they were. Also, the 45 sits on Military’s 6.00×16 Mohawk Chief 6-plys mounted on the stock steel wheels. And the only suspension modernization was switching KYB Excel-G hydraulic shocks in place of the originals. So with that, and an army green paint job, the MB looks to be in fighting shape again.

Around the Circuit

Have we mentioned that Daytona is almost upon us? And this year, there will be a new member of a legendary family running in the legendary race. Jeffrey Earnhardt, nephew of racing hero, Dale Earnhardt, now has a car. That means this is the 40th consecutive year that an Earnhardt has a seat at the Daytona 500. Here’s to 40 more!

In other racing news, Raceway Park is set to close. Sad, we know. The legendary drag track in New Jersey, “will no longer conduct quarter mile or eighth mile drag racing events effective immediately.” Raceway Park has served as an enthusiast hub for over fifty years. Share your favorite memories of the track with us in the comments.

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