The Truth About Cars » Satoshi Ogiso The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 13 Jul 2014 22:36:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Satoshi Ogiso Chief Engineer: Next Gen Prius Will Get Better Gas Mileage, Cost Less Thu, 29 Aug 2013 10:23:07 +0000 toyotahybridpresser

Toyota’s Satoshi Ogiso and Bob Carter address the global media gathered in Ypsilanti for Toyota’s Hybrid World Tour press event

The chief engineer for Toyota’s Prius program, Satoshi Ogiso, who is also managing officer of Toyota Motor Corp, gave some hints about the next generation of Toyota’s highest profile hybrid car at a presentation held as part of Toyota’s Hybrid World Tour, a press event that gathered together all of Toyota’s hybrid cars sold around the world for the first time in one place, in Ypsilanti, Michigan, not far from Toyota’s large R&D center in Ann Arbor.

Ogiso, who oversees product planning and chassis engineering for Toyota, said that while the company continues to work on fuel cell cars and expects to be selling 10,000 or more fuel cell cars a year by the 2020s, Toyota is committed to the concept of hybrid cars that combine electric motors and combustion engines. Due to refinements in Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive, the next Prius will get “”significantly better fuel economy in a more compact package that is lighter weight and lower cost, Ogiso said.

“The performance of this next generation of powertrains will reflect significant advances in battery, electric motor and gas engine technologies,” the Toyota engineer said. He also said that while hybrid components will get smaller, the footprint and interior dimensions of the Prius will remain the same.

Comparing a 10% gain in fuel economy to sprinter Usain Bolt taking a second off his world record in the 100 meter dash, Osigo said that Toyota is aiming at 55 mpg for the next Prius, compared to 50 mpg for the current model. In response to a question about when that next Prius will arrive in showrooms, Osigo gave the standard ‘can’t comment on future product plans’ response but then pointed out that the first three iterations of Toyota’s flagship hybrid were spaced six years apart, hinting strongly that the new Prius will be launched in 2015.

That car’s traction batteries will have a higher energy density, and its electric motor, though smaller, will put out more power. Toyota is also aiming for a thermal efficiency of 40% for the gasoline fired combustion engine, which would be the world’s most efficient.

Future models of the Prius may also feature a wireless charging system that Toyota will being testing next year.

Ogiso said that the next Prius will be the first Toyota to use the company’s New Global Architecture platform and it will have a lower center of gravity and better structural rigidity.

Ogiso also addressed other alternative energy developments at Toyota, including hydrogen fuel cells and supercapacitors. While Toyota is already planning production fuel cell cars within the next decade, supercapacitors, which are used in Toyota’s TS030 LeMans racer, also on display at the event, are not yet ready for use in a street car.

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Toyota’s Prius Chief Engineer Reveals The Future Of The Automobile. Part Three: A Game Changer In The Compact Class Tue, 15 Nov 2011 12:07:07 +0000

Back on Friday, Toyota’s Chief Engineer Satoshi Ogiso and TTAC talked about the past of the Prius, and the future of the automobile. Back to the here and now: We also talked about a car that has been a (badly kept) secret until today: A compact hybrid that suddenly makes former miser-meisters (such as the Honda Insight or the Mazda2) look like gas guzzlers. It is the Toyota Aqua, probably called Prius C when and if it lands on other shores.

With an unheard-of fuel efficiency of 35 km/L (82.3 mpg) as measured under the new Japanese JC08 test cycle, or 40 km/L (94 mpg) when measured in the 10-15 cycle, the car is 30 percent better than its segment competitors.

  • Honda’s new compact Insight hybrid delivers 27.2 km/L (64 mpg) as measured under the JC08 test cycle and 31 km/L (72.9 mpg) as when measured in the 10-15 cycle.
  • Mazda’s new Demio, better known as the Mazda2 stateside, wrings 25 km/L (JC08, 58.8 mpg) or 30km/L (10-15, 70.5 mpg) out of a conventional engine using Mazda’s Skyactiv technology.

These numbers are definitely non-EPA. Ogiso wouldn’t even hazard a guess for the EPA number.

Ogiso worked his team hard to get to these numbers:

“Usually, people look at the competition and want to be a few percent better. I set the Aqua target at 40 kilometers per liter. That is 30 percent better than the competition. Everybody said: How can you set that target so high? Why is that number needed? If the competition is at 30 kilometers, aren’t 35 good enough?”

Not for Ogiso and not for Toyota, which is finding its old fighting spirit after the many setbacks it had to endure. Not only is the car a super-saver at the pump, it also will be priced “affordably” when it will be launched in Japan in late December 2011. The exact price remains under wraps, and may not even be announced at the Tokyo Motor Show. The Nikkei [sub] had figured it will cost $4,000 less than the Prius.

Remember when Ogiso thought back to the bad old pre-Prius days?

“At the time, the battery, motor, controller, these components were all huge and heavy. I drew a compact car, 4 meters or so long, with enough interior for 4 passengers. The rest of the space was very tiny, and I had to stuff these huge components somewhere.“

With the Aqua, he had to repeat that feat again.

“Cost, size, and weight is greatly reduced from the original Prius.”

Prius hybrid technology had to be further miniaturized to fit into a car that is 157.3 inches long (Prius: 175.6) and has a slightly shorter 100 inch wheelbase (Prius: 106.3).

Ogiso thinks this car will send other makers back to their CAD stations:

“The Prius is the game changer in the midsize class. The Aqua will be the game changer in the compact class in Japan.”

Just in Japan? What about the rest of the world? Ogiso cites “currency and production issues” that might delay the arrival of a Prius C on other shores. A Prius C  is tied to where Prius hybrids are made, and that’s Japan, Thailand and soon China. The expensive parts, the power trains come solely from Japan. The high yen doesn’t make Japanese exports low cost. That’s one thing Ogiso can’t engineer.

The 2012 Toyota Aqua / Prius C . Picture courtesy Toyota The 2012 Toyota Aqua / Prius C . Picture courtesy Toyota The 2012 Toyota Aqua / Prius C . Picture courtesy Toyota The 2012 Toyota Aqua / Prius C . Picture courtesy Toyota The 2012 Toyota Aqua / Prius C . Picture courtesy Toyota The 2012 Toyota Aqua / Prius C . Picture courtesy Toyota The 2012 Toyota Aqua / Prius C . Picture courtesy Toyota The 2012 Toyota Aqua / Prius C . Picture courtesy Toyota The 2012 Toyota Aqua / Prius C . Picture courtesy Toyota Satoshi Ogiso. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]> 29
Toyota’s Prius Chief Engineer Reveals The Future Of The Automobile. Part Two: What Will We Drive In 10 Years? Mon, 14 Nov 2011 12:32:45 +0000

Yesterday, we met Toyota Chief Engineer Satoshi Ogiso in his office in Toyota City. He is responsible for all new technology at Toyota. Yesterday, we talked mostly about the past. Now, we talk about the future.

When I ask Ogiso what car we will be driving in the future, he whips out a chart. It’s a chart which I call “Peak Oil 2.0.”

It’s not that oil wells will suddenly go dry. Level headed people expect oil to flow unabated well into the future. The problem is vehicle growth. In the saturated established markets, vehicle growth is expected to be largely stagnant. It’s the exponential growth in emerging markets that will open a gap between oil supply and oil demand – if all those cars run on petroleum-based fuel. That gap is what keeps Satoshi Ogiso awake at night – and he usually sleeps only 5 hours anyway.

There are many versions of this chart. The one used by Toyota says that we have been living with a small gap since 2005. Experts generally agree that the gap will become a serious problem in the 2015-2020 time-frame. In the world of an auto engineer, 2015 is today. With a lead time to 3 to 5 years, auto manufacturers around the world better have their act together now and answers to how that gap will be filled.

Satoshi Ogiso has the answer, and many will not want to hear it:

“To control this gap, we must go multi track. We must improve gasoline and diesel engines. We must increase the number of hybrid models. We must produce the plug-in hybrid. We must develop city commuter electric vehicles. We already started small production of fuel cell vehicles.  We must do all these improvements at the same time.”

This translates into huge R&D costs which will be beyond the capabilities of many carmakers. The first victims of Peak Oil 2.0 will be small carmakers who cannot keep up with the expense of a multitrack research program at breakneck speed with only small returns in the foreseeable future.

How will this gap be filled? Ogiso puts another chart on the table. Mind you, this is not how all of future fuel will be divvied up. This is only how the 15 or so extra million barrels of oil will be made up for when the gap has opened its hungry mouth by 2030.

According to Ogiso and his team of experts, compressed Natural Gas or CNG will grow in importance. Ogiso sees a “big future in CNG.” Liquid fuels will be with us long into the future. Gasoline will be around for a long time. Increasing amounts of these liquid fuels will not be made from oil.

All of these fuels will drive some kind of internal combustion engine, either directly mounted to the transmission, or in hybrid fashion.

The pressure to improve efficiency, combined with the maturing technology will push the equilibrium more and more in the direction of the hybrid. Asked what kind of a car I will own in 2020, Ogiso says:

“In 2020, hybrid will be mainstream. If  you can have two cars, then by 2020, you will likely have one tiny city commuter car that is pure electric. Your regular car will be a hybrid.

The pure hybrid will be the majority, next volume down will be the plug-in hybrid. Plug-ins can use pure electricity without people worrying about the range. Eventually, city commuter EVs will become popular. And of course, the conventional car will still remain on the market – especially in the developing countries, but even in Japan.”

Efficiency improvements of traditional gasoline engines may soon hit a wall, Ogiso figures. He gives the gasoline engine an improvement potential of “maybe 10 to 20 percent.”  For modern diesel engines, he sees very little room for improvement.

Listening to Ogiso and looking at his charts, it quickly becomes evident that he does not believe in the wholesale electrification of the automobile anytime soon. When he says “EV”, he always adds “city commuter” to it. This is a small niche market, especially when city commuters are supposed to commute via public transport. It is also interesting to note that on his chart, electricity does not play a serious role until 2020. Even then, the electricity may not come out of a battery. It may come out of a gas tank. Filled with hydrogen.

Yes, hydrogen.

For Ogiso, a hydrogen-powered car is like an EV, but without the weight, slow charge time and range anxiety of the battery. He sees a range of 700 km (434 miles) for a hydrogen-powered car that can be refueled in minutes.

But isn’t hydrogen fraught with technological problems? Ogiso does not think so:

“Toyota’s views are a little different. We continued the development of fuel cells. Sure, there were a lot of problems, especially with cold conditions drivability. But at this moment, we have almost cleared all technical issues.”

But aren’t hydrogen atoms so small that they escape any vessel in no time? Isn’t hydrogen so corrosive that it will eat tanks for breakfast? Ogiso looks at me as if I am from Mars.

“No, I don’t think so. We already have 150 hydrogen fuel cell units in the field in Japan, in the U.S. and in Europe, for more than one year, without serious problems. We have not had a car where the gas had escaped in the morning.”

Actually, the only real problem Ogiso is facing with hydrogen fuel cell vehicles is money:

“For us, the only remaining real issue that stands in the way of fuel cell electric vehicles is mass production cost.”

In a way, Toyota is with fuel cells where they were with hybrids in 1995: Big, bulky, heavy and expensive. Just much more expensive than hybrids.

Toyota is working hard on shrinking the size and the cost of the fuel cell stack. Expensive materials such as platinum have been replaced with cheaper ones. Last year, a commercial hydrogen-powered Toyota would have cost $100,000 . A few days ago, Toyota’s EU VP for planning, Alain Uyttenhoven said it could be €100,000.

When I ask Ogiso how much that car would cost in 2015, he squirms  and says that there are estimates, but those are not for public consumption.

When I ask him whether a hydrogen powered car would be an affordable option by 2020, then his worried look morphs into all smiles, and he says with conviction.

“Yes. This is my job.”

Now, you ask, and I ask as well: Where will all that energy come from? Another chart lands on the table. I call it the Tokyo Subway Map of New Energy.

This chart shows gasoline and diesel at a clear disadvantage: Both come from only one source, from oil wells. Biofuel is similarly hampered.  Electricity and oddly enough hydrogen can be made from a multitude of sources.  That is all fine and good. But what about the infrastructure? Ogiso is not concerned:

“I am not worried about the infrastructure. There is a lot of hydrogen available. Once we have cost effective hydrogen cars, the infrastructure will follow.”

What also will follow is Part 3 tomorrow, in which Satoshi Ogiso will spring a surprise on you, and where he will demonstrate that bringing down weight, bulk, and cost of new energy vehicles is no longer a thing of the distant future.

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Toyota’s Prius Chief Engineer Reveals The Future Of The Automobile. Part One Sun, 13 Nov 2011 15:05:46 +0000

“Look, when we started the Prius project in 1993, we did not even think of a hybrid system for the Prius. We did not set out to build a hybrid. We studied what was needed for the 21st century, and two things were certain: The need to protect the environment, and the need to bring consumption down. That’s all we knew, and you did not need to be a clairvoyant to know it.”

The man who told me this last Friday better become clairvoyant. On Satoshi Ogiso’s shoulders rests the future of Toyota. Ogiso is responsible for all new technology at Toyota. As Chief Engineer, he is in charge of the Prius and its many siblings, he is responsible for plug-in hybrids, EVs, fuel cell hybrid vehicles, anything apart from the aging internal combustion engine is his.

I meet Ogiso at the world headquarters of the (still, officially) world’s largest automaker in Toyota City. It took me 1 ½ hours to get from Tokyo to Nagoya by Shinkansen, and then about as long again to get to Toyota-shi by subway. Three hours well spent to find out what the future will bring .

I like to talk to engineers about future cars. The answers usually are down to earth, and devoid of marketing hype. In the 80’s, I talked to an engineer at Volkswagen who told me that he was working on the car for the 21st century. I immediately demanded answers. “Well, it will have four tires, a steering wheel, and it will run on gasoline,” was the answer. The man was right.

The Toyota HQ is a 15 floor office building that would look subdued in the suburbs of Cincinnati. A Renaissance Center towers over a city in ruins. A Toyota HQ is hidden between small houses and factory buildings, and is easily missed unless you know where it is. A lone Camry stands in the lobby. The security is likewise unassuming: Three of the usually polite and smiling ladies behind a wooden desk. No ID check, no “Guest” clip, a smiling lady says “dozo”, and there I am, face to face with Toyota’s future.

Satoshi Ogiso doesn’t look the big 50 which he had reached in January. His trademark hairdo is a bit less spiky than usual. He wears a tie. The days of super cool biz at Toyota are over.

Ogiso had worked at Toyota for ten years before he joined what became the Prius team in 1993. He was a suspension man. He worked his way up the ladder by designing chassis parts for the Tercel and the Camry.

In fall of 1993, Toyota created G21, a committee to research cars for the 21st century. The “G” stood for “global”, the “21″ for the 21st century. 32 year old Ogiso joined the group as one of the men of the first hour. He is the longest serving Prius team member.

In spring of 1994 the work started in earnest under Chief Engineer Takeshi Uchiyamada. Ogiso remembers:

“Environment and consumption. These were our sole engineering parameters. Otherwise, a blank sheet. We studied this for more than a year, until February 1995.

This is when we learned that the hybrid system is essential for the future of the automobile. At the end of the study, we were convinced: We need a hybrid system, even if it is difficult.”

It was a gutsy decision. Hybrid technology is nearly as old as the car. Other companies were pulling their hairs out over the technology when Toyota picked it as the system for the new millennium. Audi produced three generations of its Audi Duo concept before the Audi A4 Duo made it into production in 1997. It was a spectacular failure: Only 60 were built. Engineers and journalists questioned the sanity of someone who wanted to save gas by adding extra weight and cost in form of heavy batteries, electric motors, and controllers.

Ogiso smiles when he thinks back:

“At the time, the battery, motor, controller, these components were all huge and heavy. I drew a compact car, 4 meters or so long, with enough interior for 4 passengers. The rest of the space was very tiny, and I had to stuff these huge components somewhere. We had to miniaturize these components. When we showed the drawings around, every engineer, every division, every component supplier said:

Sure, this will be possible – give us 10 years.”

The team did not have that time. In the contrary. The Prius became Toyota’s equivalent to putting a man on the moon. But not by the end of the decade. Says Ogiso:

“In the middle of 1995, we decided to use the hybrid system. Then it was decided to have a market launch 1997, only 2 and a half years later.”

When the Prius arrived, the market was skeptical. The price was high. When the Prius came to the US officially in the year 2000, a gallon of gas did cost $1.50. Officially, Toyota broke even on the car. For Ogiso, turbulent times began, which propelled him in 2005 to the top spot as the Chief Engineer of the Prius.

“Many customers recognized the first generation Prius as a very innovative car, but honestly speaking, the volume of the first generation Prius was not so good. It was beyond our expectations, but we sold maybe 1000 units per month or so.

The customers were a big inspiration for us when we started developing the second and third generation of the Prius. Now the Prius is the best selling car in Japan, and it is also very well sold in the United States.”

In March 2011, Toyota had sold more than 3 million hybrids worldwide, the bulk of them the Prius.

However, the success of the Hybrid remains a Japanese and American phenomenon. In Europe, hybrids are a rarity, when Europeans want to save gas, they drive a diesel. In the emerging markets, hybrids are a dud. According to lore, only one Prius was sold in China in all of 2010.

As it is often the case, the lore was misinformed: Toyota had sold a total of 60 imported Prii in China in 2010. Toyota elected to stop selling the Prius to the Chinese until production of the 3rd generation Prius starts in China early next year.

Ogiso believes that wholesale adoption of hybrid technology around the world is  only a matter of time:

“Generally speaking, the environment and the energy resource situation will get increasingly worse in the future. Other markets will wake up to it. The timing is different. Japan was first, U.S. second. By 2020 to 2025, hybrid systems will be mainstream even in Europe and in the emerging markets.”

Now is the time to ask the question that had brought me here. What car will I be driving in 2020? Will I put gas in it? Will I plug it in? Or will I have to take the train? More on that tomorrow in Part two.

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