Toyota to import cars from Europe to South Korea

Article by Christian Andrei, on February 22, 2012

Toyota may soon import cars from Europe to South Korea, a move being considered by the automaker in order to lessen its dependence on Japan amid the strengthening yen, according to Tommy H Nakabayashi, president and CEO of Toyota Motor Korea. He told reporters that Toyota Korea is “studying” a proposal to bring in products from Europe.

Toyota doesn’t have a big presence in South Korea, which is dominated by Hyundai and Kia. However, Nakabayashi said that this hasn’t dissuaded Toyota from targeting a 160% increase in local sales to 13,000 units this year. Lexus is also aiming for a 90% boost in sales to 8,000 vehicles.

Just last Tuesday, Toyota celebrated the launch of three new Prius models in South Korea. Automakers are considering alternative sources as exports from Japan are increasingly becoming less cost-competitive due to the strong yen and South Korea's bilateral trade agreements with United States and Europe.

Toyota has begun selling U.S.-built Camry sedans and Sienna minivans in South Korea. Last November, Honda's CEO said that the automaker was examining the possibility of importing cars into South Korea from the U.S. rather than from Japan.

Through the Yaris Hybrid and the Auris Hybrid, Toyota has managed to bring to new market segments its full hybrid technology. Even then, when it comes to this technology, the one that many people continue to identify with is the Prius. Indeed, when it comes to innovative technology, the Prius continues to be in the lead. The main reason is that each time a new version comes out, it brings with it technological features that are considered ahead of its time.

Take this model’s third generation for example. It was originally released in 2009 and was the first vehicle to have remote-controlled air conditioning and at the same time a solar ventilation system. By utilizing the hybrid battery, which offers a rather large capacity, and the ability to be remotely activated, the air conditioner helps cool the cabin for a maximum of 3 minutes before actually entering.

Meanwhile for the solar ventilation system, it ensures that while the Prius is still parked, the temperature of the air inside does not rise. Other interesting technological innovations include the Head-up Display. What this does it to show important information on the windscreen’s base. Information includes the Eco Drive Monitor and the current speed. It also displays data related to the Active Cruise Control system and Pre-Crash Safety system, though both are offered as options.

Another feature is the Touch Tracer display switch. Since this is mounted to the steering wheel, it ensures easy management and allows the driver to control various features like the ECO Drive Monitor, air conditioning, and even the audio system. All of these are possible without the need to remove hands from the steering wheel or even look down.

Going back to the safety system, the Adaptive Cruise Control is in fact integrated with the Pre-Crash Safety system and together they make use of sensors that have been placed beneath the grille in the front to determine the possibility of a collision. If the system predicts that said probability of a collision occurring is high, it activates a number of intelligent safety features.

The system for example immediately activates the loud Brake Assist alarm and pre-tensions the seatbelts. Should the system determine that a collision is bound to occur, the vehicle’s automatic braking is triggered at once. As such, it helps reduce the effect of the impact and with it the damage. One system that customers will likely love is known as the Intelligent Parking Assist.

With this, the Prius can automatically move to the parking spot selected by the river. Through a combination of a rear view camera and ultrasonic sensors, the system determines what steering movements are needed in order to go in reverse to the spot. What’s left for the driver to do is simply control the speed.

Aside from the different technological offerings, the new Prius reveals better sensorial quality for the interior and a redesigned exterior. Instrumentation has been improved as well. There are also a number of advanced navigation system and multimedia systems being offered at an affordable rate. These include the Toyota Touch, the Toyota Touch & Go Plus, and finally the Toyota Touch Pro.

Topics: toyota, south korea

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