Toyota is on a massive development spree and will introduce a wide variety of new powertrain components starting in 2017 and continuing through 2021. Along with a new 2.5-liter inline-four engine, the automaker is introducing new 8-speed and 10-speed transmissions and improved hybrid systems.
Toyota is creating new engines with improved thermal efficiency, reducing energy losses and allowing for a high output. A new 2.5-liter direct-injection inline four-cylinder engine, made to align with the Toyota New Global Architecture, has a thermal efficiency of 40 percent inside gasoline vehicles and 41 percent in hybrid vehicles.
New 8-speed and 10-speed transmissions are also on the way. Lighter and more compact than similar transmissions, the new units reduce energy losses and feature a lower center of gravity for improved straight-line and cornering stability. A new technique used on gear tooth surfaces makes for a lower coefficient of friction when the gears engage. The Direct Shift-10AT, suited for a premium rear-drive vehicle, uses close-ratio gears to improve the range of each gear, particularly in low-to-middling speeds, for smooth gear changes. Toyota claims the gear changes in this unit are “among the world’s quickest.”
Although Toyota made big improvements on the new Prius, it’s reviving its hybrid and plug-in hybrid technology once again. Toyota’s new hybrid system for rear-wheel-drive vehicles promises improved fuel economy at high speeds, allowing for intermittent use of the engine at such speeds. For plug-ins, a new dual-mode drive system allows the electric motor to not simply act as a generator but instead provide direct driving power, which Toyota says should permit spirited driving even in EV mode. Also, plug-ins will get a large-capacity lithium-ion battery with an EV-mode cruising range of about 37 miles or more.
Here’s an idea of just how much Toyota is looking to alter its lineup. By 2021, Toyota will introduce 17 versions of nine engines, 10 versions of six new hybrid systems, and 10 versions of four transmissions, including multi-geared automatics and a new kind of CVT. At that time, 60 percent or more of Toyota and Lexus vehicles sold annually in Japan, U.S., Europe, and China are projected to include the new powertrain components. The new powertrain bits in these models will account for a C02 reduction of 15 percent, the automaker estimates.
We’ll begin seeing the powertrain bits on a new-model vehicle in 2017, Toyota says. Next year, Toyota will also start increasing its hybrid tech development staff by about 30 percent through the end of 2021.