To tackle tightening global fuel efficiency and exhaust emissions standards and continue its ‘fun to drive’ aspirations, Toyota has embarked on a massive revamp of its powertrain range with plans for 60 percent of its lineup to be replaced by the end of 2021.
According to Automotive News North America, this will see the introduction of 17 versions of nine new engines, 10 versions of four new transmissions and 10 versions of six hybrid systems.
The plan has been unveiled by former Aisin Seiki chief Toshiyuki Mizushima who joined Toyota in April to head the new Power Train Co.
Aided by the increased use of the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) modular platforms (as used in the fourth-generation Prius models), the overall result will see a substantial Volkswagen Group-like sharing of powertrains across vehicle types which will reduce the number of actual engines by 40 percent.
Already revealed is Toyota’s all-new 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine which has a hybrid version and, in front-wheel-drive, uses an eight-speed automatic transmission or a 10-speeder when used in rear-wheel-drive vehicles.
Toyota claims the new engine – to be used in mid, large-size and premium vehicles (the all-new Camry was not named but it is the focus of speculation) – has 10 percent better acceleration but 20 percent improved fuel consumption over the outgoing version.
2016 Toyota Prius
The heat-loss efficiency of this engine (a higher ratio means less power is lost to heat so more is available to drive the wheels) is up from 35 percent to 40 percent.
Speculation also points to the hybrid version of this engine – Toyota calls it a ‘multistage’ hybrid – powering the all-new Lexus LC coupe.
Naturally hybrids play a big part in Toyota’s powertrain future and the company will boost by 30 percent the number of people working on the petrol-electric technology.
It is anticipated that for Toyota to comply with toughening global regulations, by 2025 some 20 percent of its global sales will need to be hybrid vehicles. That’s almost double the current number.
Increasing the volume of its petrol-electric hybrid models will diminish a requirement for the high-cost development of plug-in hybrids and pure electric vehicles.
Not that Toyota is overlooking pure electric – in fact company President Akio Toyoda last month appointed himself as head of the company’s burgeoning electric car division. His appointment is to specifically speed-up development and tackle arch rival the Volkswagen Group in launching battery-powered models across the range of passenger and commercial vehicles.
To accelerate development, Toyota suppliers like Denso and Aisin Seiki will join the product development cycle earlier than before – so they will take-on some of the massive development costs.