FB Update: Tommykaira for Prius

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Tommykaira for Prius

Tommykaira continues their development of tuning options for the Prius…

This post has been rebroadcast from our Facebook fan page.  To see similar updates, visit us at http://www.facebook.com/therealjdm.

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Making The Prius Cool

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TommyKaira Prius Tommy Kaira

I look at this picture of TommyKaira’s latest version Prius and I can’t help but think that it looks cool! It is surprisingly difficult to use the words cool and Prius in the same sentence.

Surely all of the ducting is not needed or practical but from purely a visual point of view TommyKaira has managed to make the Prius actually look exciting! At the moment the Prius tuning movement has had trouble spreading to the US. With so many people driving blandly designed hybrids like the Prius I’m really surprised that more people arent stepping up to turn that practical daily driver into something really special and not simply just practical.

For many Prius owners the primary purpose of the Prius is not simply Eco meaning Economical but Eco meaning Ecological. There are more millionaires driving cars like the Prius than any other car in it’s price range. The Prius has always carried a social message of green. All I’m saying is green and responsible does not need to be dull. New cars like the Fisker and Tesla are proving that point and I still believe there is hope for the Prius as well. To me, this picture proves that point.

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A Real JDM Hybrid by Patrick Callahan

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Lately, the CR-Z has been getting quite a bit of attention since it’s a hybrid with sporting pretensions. It’s certainly a step ahead of the Prius. However, one of the first hybrid cars recently caught my attention. Way back in 2001 Toyota decided to produce a hybrid version of the Crown Royal (no, seriously, that’s the name of the car). Far from the stodgy 1NZ series found in the Prius, Toyota used what may be the most advanced normally aspirated version of the venerable 2JZ series, the 2JZ-FSE.

I must admit that even I had to dig a little deeper when I saw that engine code. A quick search reveals this engine featured direct-injection (remember we’re talking about 2001!) and an extremely high compression ratio for a car designed to run on pump gas. Between this and a mild hybrid system resulted in the car being rated at 27mpg city despite a curb weight over 4000lbs.

This is all impressive enough, but the engine is still only rated for 217hp. This might be adequate for cruising in the Royal, but is hardly an inspiring figure. However, what if this engine were to find its way into an MkIV Supra, IS300 or even a Silvia. It wouldn’t be breaking any ground to fit one of these engines in one of those chassis as the block is very familiar, but imagine a lightweight dual-purpose drift/daily S13 that gets Yaris-esque mileage on the way to the track, offset any emissions that may have been avoided with big white clouds of tire smoke and then proceed to commute for the next week on the same tank of gas. Now that’s a hybrid in every sense of the word!

Tuning this engine would require a herculean effort and you’d do well to pick up some textbooks on combustion theory while you’re at it, but there’s really no need to. The stock the engine produces an effortless 217lb-ft of torque at only 3600rpm and that’s more than enough to put a lightweight car sideways in a hurry.

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BulletproofEco.com by Ben Schaffer

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Bulletproof Eco

We’ve been hard at work on expanding lately. A couple of new projects are in the works and at the moment I’m ready to introduce our Bulletproof Eco project.

www.bulletproofeco.com – Coming Soon Page

This one has been a long time coming…under the radar of most, we’ve actually been supplying Prius styling and tuning parts by Kenstyle, Toms and other high end Japanese companies for quite a few years already. However, lately the Eco tuning scene has rapidly picked up and we feel a need to double our efforts on our end to promote and distribute for our friend’s brands in Japan.

Bulletproof Eco is designed to do for Eco and Hybrid car tuning what Bulletproof Automotive has done for Sports Car tuning.

The website is being built now and I’m excited to debut it in the hopefully near future. In the meantime, please keep us in mind for you or your friends who are interested in adding something special to your Eco or Hybrid daily driver. Our Eco business is already running at full speed and we can currently accept any orders or requests by email or phone. For those who already know what they want, this is ideal while waiting for the official website launch which will debut a lot of parts and brands that many have never seen before.

This is also perfect timing to announce that we have recently been selected as the North American and Middle East Exclusive distributor for Tommy Kaira and their great Prius and Insight tuning parts lineup (and those cool LED emblems they make!).

Bulletproof Eco is already an authorized direct distributor for Prius and Insight Tuning Parts Produced By:

ASI Green

Tommy Kaira

Kenstyle

Top Secret

J’s Racing

and much more…

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The Transition – Discussion Shift From Vintage JDM To Eco JDM

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the_transition

I came across this picture from our archives and it made me think about the transition…The transition from our last blog post (the flawless old school Z) to what I want to write about next (Eco tuning) is what this picture represents…but also it represents the old and the new of JDM tuning which are both celebrating new heights of popularity at the very same moment in time. Granted the two cars are totally incomparable, but if i had to isolate two prominent themes of Tokyo Auto Salon 2010 it would be nostalgic car tuning and eco tuning. These two massively contrasting mediums of JDM tuning are what made TAS 2010 most different from previous shows.

So what about Eco Tuning? Well, there is one point in particular that I wanted to share. Often I learn profoundly interesting things in meetings with my friends and suppliers over in Japan. Although I wont say the particular company or the person in this case, there was an interesting perspective mentioned in private that I feel is worth mentioning publicly with my source being anonymous.

I asked my friend quite honestly what he felt about Eco tuning. His booth happened to feature a newly tuned Eco (hybrid) car so I felt he would have some perspective on where that trend is headed. This particular guy’s company, much like many other Eco tuning firms has its roots in sports car tuning. I suspect his perspective is comparable to those like ASI, Top Secret and the countless other well respected tuners who after years of tuning sports cars are now playing with the Prius and the Insight.

So I started off by asking what he thought about Eco tuning because of his new demo car. His response was not terribly enthusiastic about the demo car, but his response led to the overall impression that he feels that Eco tuning is an important part of the future of the industry. I said that I understood and agreed that it was a smart decision to produce something that would be a part of the next wave of tuning. But then I asked him how Eco car tuning is doing right now in Japan. His response was that he did not see many tuned Eco cars on the roads, almost none actually.

Then the “ah ha” moment of the conversation was revealed…

I asked him…if you don’t see tuned Eco cars on the road then why is it that Auto Salon was filled with tuned hybrids everywhere I looked? How could it be that the most popular trend at TAS of tuned hybrids is so far off from the current demand (or lack thereof for hybrid tuning). I was honestly shocked that he had a tuned hybrid car in his booth AND that everyone else seemed to have one as well, and here he was telling me that at the moment that very few people are buying parts like this at the very moment that people like myself are led to believe that they are becoming massively popular in Japan!

He then went on to explain that this is how trends are started. Essentially the situation is that collectively all of the tuners in Japan are betting on the Prius and Insight to be an important part of their future (based primarily on car sales data). If the industry feels that those are the popular cars, then the consensus is that if the entire tuning industry gets behind those cars that they’ll be able to influence the habits of the owners to modify the cars and a new segment of the industry will be launched.

Essentially I look at it as the entire Japanese aftermarket trying to jump start an industry from scratch. They are trying to build enough cool demo cars, and enough awesome parts that they will convince a new market to form based on the sheer collective effort of the aftermarket.

This concept goes against my traditional understanding of a business’s duties being to fulfill demand and instead shows the aftermarket’s optimism and brute force of creating demand rather than fulfilling it. I can’t lie though, it does work when it comes to JDM tuning.

Think about it another way.

Did you want to buy a 370Z even more than before after Amuse came out with that Vestito aero kit? I sure did…

And the first time I saw the Ericsson kit and exhaust for the M3, at that moment I lusted after an M3. Before that I admired the M3, but after that all I could think about was buying one! And the examples go on and on, hell I want a S30 Fairlady after Rocky Auto convinced me!  I don’t think that any of us can deny that actual desire (demand in business terms) can be jumpstarted by the industry if amazing parts and complete cars are created.

It is for this same reason that the FT-86 was revealed at TAS already heavily modified. Intelligent car companies are embracing the aftermarket to make their cars more lusted after and cooler! So here, the story of TAS to me is seeing the entire collective aftermarket giving a big push forward to the sexiness and appeal of the Insight and Prius in hopes for successfully launching a new category of tuning which the industry desperately needs to stay healthy long term (keep in mind, the industry cant survive on out of production Supras, Silvias, etc forever).

So wrapping up…it was a fascinating lesson on what happens when the entire Japanese aftermarket seems to rally around a concept and to create a new style of tuning and a new demand out of essentially thin air. It might sound crazy, but based on what I’ve seen in the past I think it may just work. I know I’ve had thoughts about cruising daily in a Tommy Kaira Prius after seeing that car at TAS…So at least I can say that its working on me!

PS: I’ll feature more Eco cars that I felt were cool later on. I wanted this post to be more conceptual about this important discussion on the power of persuasion and the unity of the aftermarket in Japan to rally around the singular goal of launching a new style of tuning.

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Welcome To 2010 Post – A Forward Thinking Post

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ASI Toyota Prius Lexus Bulletproof Eco

Happy New Year everyone! I’m excited about 2010! During my hiatus I spent some time thinking about life, cars and the future.

One thing that reoccurred a few times during my time reflecting and reading was the theme of electric cars and eco cars in general. Now if you’re like me, this probably sounds like a boring topic…but if you’re like me, you’ll give reading this a chance because you know how much I care about sports car tuning and where I’m coming from.

I wanted to share the cliff notes of my thought evolution during my time off.

First of all, this is a great video to all of you who are forward thinking and interested in the future:

http://www.ted.com/talks/shai_agassi_on_electric_cars.html

That TED video in the link is not the first and also will not be the last I’ll share here over the years. I’m a huge supporter of TED and I recommend it to anyone and everyone who has an interest in the world we all live in. There truly is knowledge for any and every interest, presented from thousands of the world’s foremost experts. Its all free and streaming on that website and I don’t make a penny endorsing this, I do it for the bettering of your knowledge/perspective and for the positive advancement of world we all must co-exist in.

So back to the point…I’ve been admittedly reluctant on accepting the shift from performance cars to Eco cars as of late, and I’ve stated my feelings here on the blog many times before. In actuality I’m very PRO green technology I’m all about reducing our footprint and curbing global warming…but at the same time I cant help but get depressed as less sports car tuning is ultimately slowing down my hobby and for that matter the industry my business operates in.

With that being said, I think undeniably that electric and/or various other low emission vehicles is the answer to many of the very daunting problems we have right now in the world. The TED video I linked to above provides a very compelling vision of what a proper mass roll out of an electric vehicle solution looks like and the massively positive impact it can offer the world.

I agree with the message in the video and I support that image of the future. But I want my sports cars too…I don’t want to ever give up the joy of driving and modifying fun cars.

Next and unrelated to stumbling upon that TED video, I watched an older episode of Top Gear in which they interviewed Jay Leno. Leno said something interesting to this point…he said that when cars replaced horses, horses lost their primary function as a mode of daily transportation but yet they transitioned into a permanent role of sport and personal enjoyment rather than basic transport. Essentially, the advent of cars ended up giving horses a permanent place in the world for those who enjoy horses for the passion or riding rather than the necessity of it.

Now, the horses I’m interested in are more plentiful…(400 horses minimum at a time for me please)

With that being said, perhaps hybrid cars, electric cars and other green vehicles which I consider a necessity for the world (yet a horribly boring drive) will bring the same result.

Lastly, I read a great article in Fortune Small Business magazine (another magazine that just got the axe and one that was the closest resemblance to Business 2.0 which was my favorite magazine until they died as well). This article was about two guys that took over a Cadillac dealership in Northern California to open a Prius conversion shop. They would take the Prius and for about $5000 they would convert it to be able to run on electricity only. Basically “souping” up the battery system by adding more capacity and rewiring the electronics to be able to bypass the engine completely…I was inspired. Their business exhibits the same passion that we have for bolting on a turbo kit and reworking the ECU and fuel to compensate for more air flow, yet they were doing it for the passion of ECO tuning rather than sports tuning.

To conclude…

In three unrelated stumbles upon information I developed my own vision of the future in which ECO tuning and sports car tuning not only co-exist but help each other to unite a more solid and permanent foundation for the passion of car tuning.

The idea of an all electric zero emissions daily driver and a beast of a sports car for the weekend seems like a future that I can be happy with and at the same time the world can be a better place because of it. At the same time, our weekend sports cars can become even more focused on the “sporting” side because daily practicality will become less of a focus with a gas and dollar saving ECO car to be used as a daily beater. This will allow for more aggressive sports car builds because the trade-off between speed and usability will become less of a factor. If my hopes are true, the purity of sports car tuning will become enhanced when the future arrives and this day comes.

Regardless of whether I’m right or wrong, one thing I know for sure is nothing stays the same forever. With that being said, you’ll soon see a new business emerge from our company. I’ll refrain from saying more details until the website is done to share with you all.

Happy New Year! May the future be bright for us all.

Ben

PS: The ASI Green Prius will debut at Tokyo Auto Salon. You can see the first sneak peek of the real car here. We’ll be offering ASI tuning for the Prius immediately upon its release, just as we also offer ASI’s Ferrari and Bentley tuning programs now to our clients.

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Tommy Kaira and ASI Prius by Matt Rus and Ben Schaffer

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tommy-kaira-prius

ASI Prius

Words by Ben:

I noticed Matt (Farmofminds) already preparing a Prius feature on the Tommy Kaira car and I thought I’d join in since I’ve been intending to write something about the ASI Prius as well as the TK car. So here we go, another Prius blog post…

Really Japan? Has this what it has come to? All tuning news and innovation coming out of Japan seems to be either R35 GT-R or Prius/Insight. The rest of the tuning scene has very little news coming out. Can we get a little variety please? I’m already holding back on some GT-R blog posts because we have so many as it is, thats the big news these days.

Although you’ll find me being a huge supporter and fan of the R35 GT-R tuning scene, the Prius tuning scene is a bit different for me.

Dont get me wrong, I really respect the Prius (and Insight) for what they are (nature saving, efficient and affordable daily drivers). In fact I wouldnt be opposed to getting a Prius for a daily driver and if I did I’d probably be looking at one of these two companies for modifications (and Top Secret as a great third option for more simple lip kits). There is absolutely nothing wrong with the Prius and absoultely nothing wrong with making it look cool and perhaps even improving aerodynamics for better performance and economy (although these two probably worsen rather than improve Cd).

So what’s my beef? I like the Prius, I’d rock these kits…why the negativity? I’ll tell you why. Because this year for Tokyo Auto Salon I’m bringing my whole crew with me, as I usually do. This year we’re rolling 8 deep to Tokyo to see what is new at TAS. And you know what, when I ask my industry insider friends in Japan they all are telling me that TAS wont be the same and it’ll be dominated by “green” cars and eco cars with much less sports car tuning.

I understand the Japanese consumers demand eco tuning and styling, thats cool…but it is so overboard at this point that it feels like the Japanese government must have made a mandate that all tuners ARE REQUIRED to offer a tuning package for either the Prius or the Insight. I mean, who isnt doing parts for these cars right now? Enough already! (and it’s just begun) I’m telling you, if I see a JUN stroker kit come out for a damn Prius I’m throwing in the towel!

So now on top of having a Top Secret Prius demo car (picture that along side the monstrous Nardo Supra) we now have ASI’s demo Prius (picture that alongside their monsterous Tetsu widebody Bentley GTR or their slick Ferrari F430) AND we now have Tommy Kaira’s Prius demo car (picture that alongside their intense looking R35 GT-R car in development).

See what I’m getting at? Where’s the hardcore? Where’s the sports car tuning? Lets enjoy the Prius for what it is (a great eco car) but for my sanity’s sake, PLEASE DO NOT REPLACE OUR SPORTS CAR TUNING FUTURE WITH THIS. I understand Eco is the future for the masses, but can we keep our sports cars too? I thought the point was to have a sports car for the weekends and a Prius to daily drive. Lets keep it that way, keep the R&D coming on sports car tuning parts too please! I really dont want this blog to be required to feature hybrid news 3 days a week because there is nothing else fresh coming out.

Know what I’m saying?

Let me hear what you have to say on this please…

Ending rant, nobody can argue that this rear end of the Prius (below) by Tommy Kaira (under new management in Japan)  is the most amazing thing we’ve ever seen on a hybrid. This is as good as it gets design wise for the Prius. If I was an aero parts manufacturer, I wouldnt even bother making a rear under spoiler for the Prius after seeing this by Tommy Kaira. Game over.

tommy-kaira-prius-1

PS: It would make a LOT more sense to me if Top Secret, ASI, Tommy Kaira and the like all would release their Eco projects under a sub-brand name. Like Top Secret: Green or ASI Eco Line, etc. Just something so I don’t think about these demo cars and parts in the same thought as a monster tuned Supra, Ferrari, etc.

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