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Volkswagen takes the quantum computing revolution from the lab to the factory

Volkswagen was the first automaker to demonstrate a practical application of quantum computing for route and traffic management. From artificial intelligence to cloud computing and beyond, Volkswagen Group of America has one of the most aggressive portfolios of technology developments in the automotive sector. That also includes research and development in quantum computing, a space…

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Volkswagen was the first automaker to demonstrate a practical application of quantum computing for route and traffic management.

From artificial intelligence to cloud computing and beyond, Volkswagen Group of America has one of the most aggressive portfolios of technology developments in the automotive sector. That also includes research and development in quantum computing, a space where Volkswagen has worked alongside key innovators to bring cutting-edge innovation into real-world use.

Quantum computing uses the imprecise nature of quantum mechanics – the physics of how individual atoms and subatomic particles interact. Where every piece of data in a traditional computer is ultimately expressed as a binary “one” or “zero,” quantum computing relies on particles called “qubits” that can be one, zero, or both. Depending on how many qubits its chip can manage, a quantum machine can leverage tremendous computing power to solve specific tasks.

Researchers believe quantum computers could tackle challenges that even the most powerful traditional computers struggle. While quantum computers are still highly experimental, a global race to develop new machines has started, and companies have begun finding ways to apply them to real-world challenges. In the automotive industry, Volkswagen Group has led the way, launching a dedicated team for quantum computing research in 2016.

“We see great potential for quantum computing across our entire business,” said Florian Neukart, Director, Volkswagen Group Data:Lab. “Many challenges in the automotive industry can benefit from the inherent power quantum computing can generate.”

Researchers believe quantum computing has the potential to open new areas of exploration
Copyright © D-Wave Systems Inc.

One issue Neukart is adamant about is that Volkswagen’s research team does not want to stay in the academic realm. “We’re not interested in doing research for research’s sake. We want to bring this technology into the real world,” he said.

For almost five years now, Volkswagen experts have been researching to find new ways to apply quantum computing to everyday challenges, said David Von Dollen, lead data scientist for Volkswagen Group of America. About 10 people work with quantum computing at Volkswagen in the U.S and Germany. Since 2017, Volkswagen has been teaming up with Canadian quantum computing firm D-Wave, and later joined with Google’s quantum computing unit for research.

“We are focused on output, on trying things, on bringing applications into use,” Von Dollen said.

One major field is mobility: In 2019, the Volkswagen team worked with D-Wave to demonstrate the first-live traffic-routing system to rely on quantum computing. The test used buses in Lisbon, Portugal, to predict traffic volumes and route trips to minimize wait times for passengers and travel times for the buses, avoiding traffic jams and making the traffic flow as efficient as possible. And the team has many more ideas and ongoing projects, Von Dollen added.

“Coming from an enterprise point of view, we always check the same questions,” Neukart added. “Where in our company could quantum computing help to solve a problem? Would a quantum application really be more efficient than a classical algorithm here? And if yes, how could this be done?”

One example has been in a key part of the automotive factory – the paint shop. Every vehicle body entering the paint shop requires one of two types of primer, depending on the final vehicle color. Changing over between primer types slows down production and raises costs, but on a complex assembly line, that cost was necessary to keep vehicles moving.

Traditionally, a paint shop might average a small number of vehicles of one primer type before needing to stop the line and switch. Using a new algorithm powered by quantum computing, designed to maximize the paint shop efficiency without slowing assembly overall, the shops could now run significantly more vehicles in a row. That system could soon go online at Volkswagen factories in Germany, and eventually worldwide.

“Challenges like these may sound simple, but in some cases would require near-supercomputer levels of power to solve with traditional hardware,” explained Von Dollen.

Using the D-Wave quantum computer, Volkswagen is researching the potential for quantum computing to find new insights. Copyright © D-Wave Systems Inc.

The Volkswagen team has also applied quantum computing to vehicle pricing to help strike the right balance for customer demand. Further afield, they see the potential for other uses, such as developing new materials or figuring out where new electric vehicle charging stations should be located to maximize their usefulness.

“Everything we learn now can give us an advantage in the future,” Neukart said. “Some challenges and questions in fields like material science may only be solvable through quantum computing. In other areas, we can take a problem that might require a week of classical computing power and finish it in a day or less.”

Neukart said Volkswagen has a unique place in quantum computing as both researcher and end-user in the automotive world, but that given the technology’s complexity and potential, it was a key reason why Volkswagen has been able to find real-world uses for it.

“We want to be leading in showing real-world applications in the mobility space,” added Von Dollen “and I think we’re really pushing the field forward.”

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Hybrid driving tips for best fuel economy

Want to get the very best out of your ground-breaking Toyota hybrid? We’ve gathered a number of hybrid driving hints and tips that will help you to get the best from the system, improving fuel consumption and getting you further for less.Whichever Toyota hybrid you’ve set your heart on, the following tips and pointers should…

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Want to get the very best out of your ground-breaking Toyota hybrid? We’ve gathered a number of hybrid driving hints and tips that will help you to get the best from the system, improving fuel consumption and getting you further for less.

Whichever Toyota hybrid you’ve set your heart on, the following tips and pointers should maximise the range and fuel economy of your Toyota.

The basics

It’s not just hybrids that benefit from the first seven tips – these will help to improve any car’s fuel efficiency:

  • Clear out the boot! Keeping the boot free of unnecessary weight will give your car and immediate boost in performance and economy.
  • Check your tyre pressures – dig out your owner’s manual, and do a weekly check to ensure that your tyres are correctly inflated in line with Toyota’s recommendation. Or read our handy tyre pressures article here.
  • Think ahead – by planning your journeys, you can avoid traffic jams and minimise the likelihood of getting lost.
  • Shut up! Closing the windows and sun roof at speeds above 45mph will reduce drag, reducing fuel consumption.
  • Remove unused roof racks, boxes and bike racks – they’re a real drag too!
  • Steady as she goes – maintain a steady speed and don’t go over the speed limit.
  • Smoothly does it! Try to avoid sudden braking or acceleration.

Hybrid driving: hybrid-specific tips

Sorry everyone else, but these tips are for hybrids only:

  • Become familiar with the hybrid information display so you can know how much energy is being used.
  • EV does it! Keep the car in EV mode as much as possible by using the accelerator gently, pressing it lightly but consistently.
  • Improve efficiency with ECO mode, which reduces aggressive throttle response.
  • Harvest time – braking gently and early helps the regenerative braking harvest more energy, which means EV mode can operate for longer periods.
  • Keep an eye on the dials and gauges to fully understand the hybrid system and manage the charge levels in the hybrid’s high-voltage battery.
  • If you’re in stop-start traffic, don’t put the car in neutral (‘N’) when stationary, as electricity will not be generated and the hybrid battery will discharge.
  • Consider using cruise control (where fitted) to maintain steady speeds.
  • When using climate control, Re-circulate mode reduces energy usage.
  • Think about the environment! Constant or heavy use of systems like air-con, lights and wipers will increase energy consumption.

Hybrid driving: drive modes

Toyota hybrids have four drive modes: Normal, EV, Eco and Power. When you first start your hybrid, the car defaults to the ‘Normal’ drive mode, which automatically manages the most efficient use of both the engine and the battery.

Drivers can also select one of the car’s on-demand drive modes to achieve better fuel consumption in certain settings.

These drive modes are: EV Mode where the car is powered by the battery only during city driving, running near-silent and with no tailpipe emissions; Eco Mode that reduces A/C output and lessens throttle response to limit harsh acceleration; and Power Mode which boosts acceleration by using the hybrid battery to assist the petrol engine.

The shift lever offers four positions: R (Reverse), N (neutral), B (engine braking) and D (drive). For normal driving, D (drive) is absolutely fine, but should you need it, position B has the effect of engine-braking handy when descending a steep hill, for example. It’s not recommended to leave the car in position B for normal driving, mainly because you’d end up using more fuel than necessary!

Hybrid driving: read the road ahead

Another great hybrid driving tip is to use the car’s battery whenever possible.

Another great hybrid driving tip is to use the car’s battery whenever possible. You can do this in town and urban driving by accelerating to your required speed, easing off the accelerator and then gently easing the accelerator on again. By doing this, you can activate EV mode – indicated by the dashboard light – which means that the engine has switched off and you are using the electric battery.

Try to maintain a constant speed and, as always, it’s important to read the road ahead. By doing this, you can reduce the amount of unnecessary braking and accelerating, using less fuel. Braking slowly and gently also maximises the amount of energy recovered by the regenerative braking system on the car.

Other factors to consider

Bear in mind that there are many factors that can affect a car’s performance, hybrid included. On cold days, your car will use more fuel as it warms up, but once it’s reached its optimum temperature, the MPG figures will increase.

Also, during the winter, you’re more likely to be using the air-conditioning, lights and wipers, all of which will use some electrical power from the battery. If you regularly travel the same route, don’t be surprised if you get better MPG figures during the summer than in the winter!

If you’d like more hybrid driving tips or want to discuss your driving technique with other hybrid owners, it’s worth visiting the Hypermiler website.

As a final note, please remember that these hybrid driving tips are published as general guidance on how to get the best fuel economy from your Toyota hybrid. Toyota encourages and supports safe driving at all times – please adhere to the rules of the road.

Read more: Toyota hybrid – how does it work?

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September Production Plan | Corporate | Global Newsroom

We at Toyota would like to again apologize for the repeated adjustments to our production plans due to the parts shortage resulting from the spread of COVID-19, and for causing considerable inconvenience to our customers, who have been waiting for the delivery of vehicles, suppliers, and other parties concerned. The global production volume for September…

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We at Toyota would like to again apologize for the repeated adjustments to our production plans due to the parts shortage resulting from the spread of COVID-19, and for causing considerable inconvenience to our customers, who have been waiting for the delivery of vehicles, suppliers, and other parties concerned.

The global production volume for September is expected to be approximately 850,000 units (approx. 250,000 units in Japan and 600,000 units overseas). In last month’s production plan, we announced that the average monthly production plan for the next three months (August through October) would be approximately 850,000 units, and that the planned production volume for September is in line with this plan.

At the time of this announcement, the global production plan for September through November has been revised to a higher volume, estimated to average about 900,000 units per month. This plan is based on careful confirmation of parts supply and the personnel structures and facility capacities of our suppliers. However, it remains difficult to look ahead due to the spread of COVID-19 and other factors, and we will continue to make every effort possible to deliver as many vehicles to our customers at the earliest date while closely examining the situation.

The production forecast for the fiscal year remains unchanged (approx. 9.7 million).

The following is the revised domestic operations suspension schedule for September.

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Toyota and its eclectic Cruiser collective

Toyota can trace the ‘Cruiser’ nameplate to June 1954, when technical director Hanji Umehara revealed that the new name for the off-road vehicle that had become known as the Toyota Jeep would now be the Toyota Land Cruiser. An evocative description as much as a name, Land Cruiser was also felt to resonate well within…

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Toyota can trace the ‘Cruiser’ nameplate to June 1954, when technical director Hanji Umehara revealed that the new name for the off-road vehicle that had become known as the Toyota Jeep would now be the Toyota Land Cruiser. An evocative description as much as a name, Land Cruiser was also felt to resonate well within the export market, which the model was about to pioneer on Toyota’s behalf.

Learn more: History of the Toyota Land Cruiser

Since then, more than ten million examples of the Land Cruiser have been sold, and through almost 70 years of continuous production, it has become the world’s most customer-trusted vehicle. But did you also realise that during this time some of that etymological magic has been sprinkled on a number of other Toyota models?

As you will see below, the Cruiser name has been associated with a further six distinct models. These have been bigger, smaller, roomier, retro-inspired and conceptual, yet all are connected by that common Cruiser heritage. And what’s more, one of these vehicles will see the designation go much, much further than any Land Cruiser has ever been before.

Toyota Urban Cruiser

Introduced in Europe in 2009 in response to growing customer demand for urban-friendly SUVs, the Toyota Urban Cruiser distilled the rugged, go-anywhere qualities of its distinguished big brother into a new B-segment model that was close in spirit to the original three-door RAV4.

But more than simply being compact and practical, the Urban Cruiser provided an important milestone in the motor industry. The top-spec 1.4-litre D-4D AWD model achieved the world’s lowest CO2 output for a four-wheel drive car, and in its relatively short, four-year life in the UK market played an important role in helping Toyota continue to reduce its overall emissions levels.

Toyota FJ Cruiser

Visitors to the 2003 North American International Motor Show were given an unexpected treat, with Toyota’s surprise unveiling of the FJ Cruiser concept clearly inspired by the legendary 40 Series Land Cruiser. So well-received was the design study that it returned to Detroit two years later as a full production model, initially for the left-hand drive United States market.

Based on the contemporary 120 Series Land Cruiser Prado, the FJ Cruiser had impeccable off-road credentials to back up its highly styled body. This is why the model was later produced in right-hand drive for discerning off-road markets such as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Japan. In fact, as of January 2020 and after 14 years of continuous production, you could still buy a brand new FJ Cruiser in the Middle East.

Toyota Tj Cruiser

Fusing the roominess of a van with the aesthetics of an SUV, the Toyota Tj Cruiser was displayed at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show as a concept designed to seamlessly dovetail work and play. The ‘T’ stood for ‘toolbox’ in reference to the vehicle’s boxlike practicality, while the lower case ‘j’ referenced the ‘joy’ drivers could experience in using its four-wheel drive chassis to reach the most inaccessible of locations.

The interior of the Tj Cruiser rivalled the Swiss Army Knife for practicality, with multi-configurable seats that could fold flat to create a double bed-size space, and sturdy side rails that could be configured to mount all sorts of accessories. The fact that the Tj Cruiser was built on the TNGA platform has led some people to predict that it is destined for production. However, we can neither confirm nor deny this assertion.

Toyota Mega Cruiser

Toyota’s answer to the American military’s Hummer H1 marked the biggest and most heavy-duty Cruiser derivative to date. In fact, similar to its US equivalent, the Japan-only Mega Cruiser was originally developed as an unstoppable infantry transport vehicle for the Japan Ground Self-Defence Force. But it was later decided that Toyota’s Gifu Auto Body subsidiary would build a very limited run of civilian models from January 1996 to August 2001.

With a footprint exceeding five metres by two metres, the Mega Cruiser must have been incredibly intimidating from the perspective of a Kei car driver. What’s more, with full-time four-wheel drive, four-wheel steering, immense ground clearance, near-vertical approach and departure angles, and grip-seeking differentials across every torque plane, there was no terrain that proved too intimidating for this monster to tackle.

Toyota Space Cruiser

The Toyota Space Cruiser was one of the first people carriers in the UK market and, despite being lauded as the only production vehicle in the world with two ‘moonroofs’, was unmistakably based on the Liteace van. That would change, of course, with its bespoke successor, the Toyota Previa of 1990. But there was still much to like about the Space Cruiser, from its eight-person capacity and (almost) mid-engine architecture to the fact it was rear-wheel drive and that the second and third row of seats could be folded flat to make a convincing double bed.

From 1983 to 1990, a grand total of 9,346 examples were sold in the UK, the majority of which were equipped with the more powerful 2.0-litre engine, as opposed to the launch 1.8-litre unit. At the time, a 2.0-litre displacement sounded generous but the Y-series engine was built for durability rather than speed. Its 87bhp output was therefore never able to propel it to warp speed.

Toyota Lunar Cruiser

This is the concept vehicle that will take the Cruiser nameplate further than ever before. The recently revealed Lunar Cruiser was given its illustrious name because the quality, durability and reliability that are necessary to keep its occupants alive in the vacuum of space are the same values that Toyota has held sacrosanct in the Land Cruiser line for 70 years.

Dwarfing even the Mega Cruiser in terms of size, proposals for the forthcoming Lunar Cruiser pitch its proportions as being approximately akin to two minibuses parked side to side. The pressurised living quarters provide 13 cubic metres of space for up to four occupants, which is about twice the size of the load volume of a long-wheelbase Toyota Proace. As the nearest refuelling station for the hydrogen fuel cell powertrain is half a million miles away, the vehicle has tanks big enough for a range of around 6,200 miles!

Toyota Compact Cruiser Concept

At the other end of the scale to the Luna Cruiser above comes this Compact Cruiser. Designed to show how the ‘Cruiser’ moniker can adapt to an all-electric and ultra-modern environment, it borrows styling cues from the first-generation Land Cruiser the Toyota Compact Cruiser Concept draws off more than 70 years of Land Cruiser and off-road heritage and even won the prestigious 2022 Car Design Award for it’s looks.

Discover more about the Toyota Land Cruiser by clicking here.

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