Toyota details new powertrains, increased investment in hybrids

Toyota details new powertrains, increased investment in hybrids

Toyota has outlined its powertrain strategy for the next five years, promising to ramp up investment in hybrids.

The company has streamlined powertrain development for its Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform. After making its debut in the 2015 Prius, the architecture will rapidly expand to more models starting next year.

A new 2.5-liter powerplant will inaugurate a new line of ‘Dynamic Force’ engines built specifically for the modular TNGA platform. The four-cylinder mill will boast one of the world’s best thermal efficiencies of 40 percent in standard form or 41 percent in hybrid applications.

The efficient engines will be mated to two new ‘Direct Shift’ automatic transmissions, one with eight gears and another with 10 ratios. Engineers developed new processes for low-friction engagement of gear surfaces, while clutch torque loss has been reduced by 50 percent during rotation.

Aside from their improved efficiencies and wider gear ratios, the new transmissions are said to be lighter and more compact than existing units. Center of gravity has been lowered, while a new torque converter promises quicker and smoother gear changes.

Engineers have developed a new Toyota Hybrid System II (THS-II) for high-performance rear-wheel-drive vehicles. Specific models were not mentioned, though the powertrain appears to be a good fit for the Lexus GS Hybrid.

The company’s plug-in hybrid system has also been improved, implementing a dual-mode drive system that allows a single electric motor to serve as a generator or drive the wheels. A larger lithium-ion battery promises to extend EV-mode driving to 37 miles or more.

Toyota plans to launch 17 versions of nine new engines by 2021, along with 10 versions of four transmissions and 10 variants of six hybrid systems.

“In this way, through TNGA-based modular development, Toyota will roll out numerous types of new powertrain units within a short timeframe, successively introducing them in various vehicle models, starting with the launch of a new-model vehicle in 2017,” the company notes.

The efforts will require a 30 percent increase in development spending for hybrid technology, coinciding with a restructuring of the engineering team and a hiring spree. The company hopes to achieve a 90 percent reduction in CO2 emissions from 2010 to 2050.

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