Toyota Setsuna Concept Constructed Entirely Out of Wood

As the world’s top-selling auto maker, Toyota has a lot of wiggle room when it comes to experimenting with different concepts and ideas, and the Toyota Setsuna concept car is no different. The brand showed off the concept at Milan Design Week in mid-April, which is constructed entirely of wood and designed to last several generations. However, as outlandish as it seems, the Setsuna is an ode to Toyota’s origins in Japanese culture.

First of all, the Setsuna is designed to have the appearance of a small two-seat roadster, but is built out of Japan-native species of cedar and birch wood using traditional Japanese carpentry techniques. Even if the concept doesn’t strike you as a very good vehicle, it’s still a remarkable work of craftmanship. Additionally, the Setsuna was envisioned by Toyota concept artists as a family heirloom; the wood may change appearance and warp over time depending on weather conditions and other environmental conditions, but the concept is intended to be passed down to subsequent generations and last up to 100 years.

Because wood changes over time, Toyota decided to incorporate that idea into the concept. The word Setsuna even means “moment,” reflecting that the Setsuna will, over the course of generations, come to represent the memories and experiences of a particular family.

Toyota’s press release even elaborated on this idea, stating, “With the Setsuna concept, Toyota is expressing the notion that, as a family accrues time and experiences together with their car, lovingly caring for it and passing it on to the next generation, that car will acquire a new type of value that only the members of that family can appreciate.”

While the Toyota Setsuna concept marks the first time a vehicle has been made out of wood, it’s far from the first heirloom car. There are plenty of vehicles that have been passed down from parent to child in the modern US, with the deeply-ingrained culture surrounding muscle cars and at-home garage modifications. The Setsuna debuted in Milan on April 12th.

Toyota Sharing Hydrogen Fuel Patents With Other Auto Makers

Hydrogen fuel patentsAfter the release of the Toyota Mirai last year, Toyota is still pushing for the auto industry to stir up interest in the concept of hydrogen fuel, which the brand regards as being significantly better and more innovative than current hybrid and electric systems. As a result, Toyota has released over 5,600 hydrogen fuel patents to the public in order to try and encourage other auto makers to create a more hydrogen-friendly society. Their reasoning? In order for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles to flourish, everybody needs to be in on it.

The announcement comes to light amid media conflict regarding the rivalry between the upcoming Tesla model and the Chevy Bolt, which are said to be some of the most advanced models in their segment. However, modern electric cars have Prius-creator Takeshi Uchiyamada to thank for the great strides in innovation and success green cars have taken in recent decades — but nowadays Uchiyamada is for fuel cell vehicles, not EVs. He believes that hydrogen fuel has the most potential for long-term use and emissions reduction, but hydrogen can only become successful if the infrastructure of the auto industry changes.

That’s because the lack of attention hydrogen fuel is getting — for example, the Mirai itself has only sold 100 units this year so far — is due to a lack of refueling stations. Toyota’s goal in sharing their technology with other auto makers is to make the same waves the electric car and hybrid market did years ago, and encourage several eco-friendly cities in the US to begin installing fuel stations for hydrogen vehicles.

Will Toyota’s strategy of releasing thousands of hydrogen fuel patents to the public work? Maybe — the Mirai, which is only available currently in California, can be refueled in three minutes, is a zero-emissions vehicle, and gets 300 miles, a range that no current electric cars can reach. However, Toyota has proven itself a leader in green energy and innovation for decades, so if anyone can do it, Toyota can.

Fun Attractions Off The Beaten Path In Tennessee

off the beaten path in tennesseeYou’ve been to all of the mainstream attractions. Now visit all of the crazy, weird and strange attractions off the beaten path in Tennessee!

X-10 Nuclear Reactor – Oak Ridge

This reactor was the second artificial nuclear reactor ever built in the world. It was constructed as part of the infamous Manhattan Project during WWII. Now it’s the oldest one in the world. Before 9/11, anyone could drive up, but these days, you have to take a bus tour.

World’s Shortest Highway Tunnel – Shady Valley

Back in the early 1900s, a lumber company in Shady Valley, Tennessee wanted to create a shortcut to town. Their answer was to blow a giant a hole in Backbone Rock. The result is the world’s shortest highway tunnel and you can drive through it today—just head south down Highway 133 from the Virginia border.

Mud Island – Memphis

Ever pined to walk the lower thousand miles of the Mississippi River? Mud Island gives you your chance…in a way. It features an attraction called Riverwalk, which is a 2,000-foot scale model of the actual river. Kick your shoes off and wade to your heart’s desire!

Mindfield

A vast, 13-story high work of industrial art, Mindfield comes from the mind of one Billy Trip. It looks like a dense electrical substation…sort of. Visit Brownsville and you can’t miss it—it’s right in the middle of downtown!

How To Jump Start A Car

how to jump start a carIt must be a universal law that your battery always dies at the most inopportune time. While we can’t necessarily make it a convenient experience, we can certainly be prepared! Here’s how to jump start a car

The first step is to always keep jumper cables in your vehicle! Not only will this make it easier for you when your vehicle dies, you can also help return the favor when someone else is in need.

  1. Try to park nose-to-nose and then turn both vehicles off.
  2. Take one end of the cables and clip the red clip to the positive terminal of the dead battery.
  3. Attach the opposing red clip to the positive terminal of the “good” battery.
  4. Attach a black clip to the negative terminal of the “good” battery.
  5. Attach the opposing black clip to an unpainted metal surface inside your engine bay (effectively grounding it).

Start your vehicle. Most of the time, this is all it takes. If not, start the vehicle with the good battery and let it run for a few minutes. Then try your vehicle again. If that doesn’t work, your battery needs replacing.

Toyota Family Learning Program Supports School and Literacy Program

Toyota Family LearningEncouraging education and learning in the Plano, Texas area, the Toyota Family Learning program recently provided some life-changing solutions for a range of families. Toyota teamed with the National Center for Families to unveil the Plano Family Literacy School and Sigler Elementary, where more than 200 parents and children have been enrolled.

The Toyota Family Learning program is funded by a $175,000 grant from Toyota, distributed over the course of 3 years. The school and literacy center are designed to give both adults and children opportunities to practice English, better enabling them to become a part of the community.

“Toyota Family Learning makes an impact that will be seen and felt for decades to come,” said Sharon Darling, president and founder of NCFL. “As parents and children are elevated through education and technology training, they realize they can make a difference in their own lives, as well as the community.”

Plano is actually the eleventh community to become part of Toyota Family Learning. Four other cities will be revealed later this year—part of a whopping $10 million commitment over 6 years.

Toyota Ventures into Satellite Connectivity Technology in New Concept

Satellite connectivity technologyAfter the Consumer Electronics Show and North American International Auto Show happened one right after the other in January, Toyota got the opportunity to show off their latest foray into the realm of cutting-edge technology. The brand used a Mirai as the base for their satellite research vehicle, a concept which employs the use of newly emerging satellite connectivity technology as a means for Toyota to research the potential uses of the feature in modern automobiles.

Toyota met with various companies around the globe during their initial pursuit of satellite tech, and eventually partnered with Kymeta, an up and coming company that focused efforts on the development of a “flat antennae” that does not require a curved dish to to send and receive signals. Kymeta has over 8,000 miles of road-testing done for its tech, and Toyota happily invested in the company with the end goal of being able to utilize the flat antennae in future vehicles.

The Mirai-based research vehicle sports the flat antennae as a panel on its roof. Inside, the interior has been customized to include black leather seats and a rear seat entertainment system.

The main benefit of satellite connectivity technology would be the ability to send and receive large amounts of data quickly. Toyota believes this could cover everything from sharing information between vehicles to maintaining a stable connection in emergency situations.

Toyota Prepares for 90-Second Prius Super Bowl Ad

With the super bowl coming up, everyone is getting excited for the traditions surrounding the event, including the game itself, the half-time show, and, of course, the infamous Super Bowl commercials. Auto makers, alongside various other companies and organizations, are gearing up to put their best foot forward for the undoubtedly enormous audience that the game annually draws to the television screen. Toyota is among them, with a Prius Super Bowl ad spot revealed to be 90 seconds long.

In the press release Toyota used to announce the commercial, the company spoke about the history of the Prius — its debut in Japan in 1997 and in the US in the year 2000, the vehicle’s improvements over four generations, and the all-new fourth generation’s sporty appearance and over 50 mpg fuel estimate. No word has yet been released on the actual content of the ad, but with a minute and a half of screen time, Toyota is sure to have something up their sleeves.

So keep an eye out for the Prius Super Bowl ad, airing sometime during the 50th anniversary of what some companies call “the world’s biggest stage.” The last time the Toyota Prius had a spot during the game was over a decade ago in 2005, and the hybrid has come a long way over the course of 11 years.

Toyota Heads List Of IIHS 2016 Top Safety Pick+ Awards

IIHS 2016 Top Safety Pick+ Early on, Toyota vehicles developed a reputation for being great in a lot of different ways. They were highly efficient, good-looking and extremely reliable. In particular, Toyota vehicles were safe. And they still are. That’s clearly evidenced in the results from the latest round of testing by the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety.

Of all of the automakers whose vehicles were tested, Toyota won more of the top awards than other. In total, nine Toyota, Lexus and Scion vehicles received the IIHS 2016 Top Safety Pick+ award.

To win this award, the IIHS tests vehicles for what they call crashworthiness, which they define as “how well a vehicle protects its occupants in a crash.” They also test a vehicle’s aptitude in crash avoidance and mitigation, the “technology that can prevent a crash or lessen its severity.”

They winning vehicles were: Toyota Prius v, Toyota Camry, Toyota Avalon, Toyota RAV4, Lexus CT 200h, Lexus ES, Lexus RC, Lexus NX, and Scion iA.

Tips On How To Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

how to keep your new year’s resolutionsThere is only one New Year’s resolution that is guaranteed to work: the resolution not to make any resolutions! But that’s no fun and self-improvement is important, so here are some tips on how to keep your New Year’s resolutions…

Tie Them Together

Let’s say you have a resolution to quit smoking, eat better and get in shape. Aren’t those all the same goal, really? According to an article from Oprah.com, combining behavioral changes into a common goal makes you more likely to succeed!

Record Everything

It’s been shown that people are more likely to succeed when they have a record of their progress. When you do well, seeing that on paper can be extremely encouraging. Of course, in our modern times, there are lots of apps that can help you. There are apps that can help recognize the positive health changes that come from quitting smoking or your progress in the gym.

Be Careful How You Talk To Yourself

A good rule of thumb to follow is to talk to yourself the same way you would someone you love and care about. Be encouraging. Give yourself little pep talks if you have to. Remember, you don’t need to change who you are, just what you do (or don’t do).  

What Are Anti-Lock Brakes?

what are anti-lock brakesIf you’ve bought a car in the last decade, odds are it has an anti-lock braking system, or ABS. When ABS was invented and it became clear it was much safer than former braking systems, ABS quickly became the industry standard. So what are anti-lock brakes?

Anti-lock brakes are so much safer than other braking systems because they don’t lock up, which leads into skids, especially on wet roads. The ABS technology monitors the wheels to keep them from locking, responding to sudden braking and changes in speed by releasing braking pressure on the wheel that’s about to lock up.

With the reduced risk of skidding, you have much more steering control over your vehicle, so you can steer out of the way of obstacles or use your wheel to regain control of the vehicle if you’re sliding. Before ABS, steering while braking wasn’t nearly as effective, and crash rates in skid situations were much worse.

So, this holiday season, say a thank you to Gabriel Voisin, the inventor of anti-lock brakes!