By on November 23, 2010

When Autoweek asks the R&D boss at an alt-drivetrain leader like Toyota what the future of its powertrain development looks like, one tends to hope for something revelatory in his answer. Instead, we get

In the next five years, the general trend is downsizing of engines and the use of turbochargers. Another development will be direct fuel injection.
Gosh, really? So Toyota is going to follow automakers like Fiat and Hyundai (not to mention the entire industry) when it comes to spotting and adopting engine technologies like gas direct injection (GDI) and strategies like downsizing and turbocharging? With a late start on EVs as well as the suite of ICE-improving technologies, Toyota had better hope that hybrid sales stay strong… and that its hydrogen technology is affordable by 2015. Otherwise, there are plenty of other firms ready to lead the industry…
Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

35 Comments on “Looking Into The Future, Toyota Spots The Present...”


  • avatar
    carguy

    At least Toyota has recognized it has a problem – Honda still thinks there is nothing wrong.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Honda and Toyota are fairly conservative, and they have good reason to be.
       
      Turbocharging isn’t really required when your V6s are giving very good real-world mileage and your naturally-aspirated fours are quite tractable.  Honda does have a turbo (the K23A1) but given that turbos aren’t returning great mileage in real-world use, why move?  As someone who has owned a turbo as well as driven a few recent ones I’ll give that they’re great when not providing much boost, but that’s counterbalanced by modern turbos being spooled up all the friggin’ time in an effort to avoid turbo lag.
       
      As for gas direct injection: aren’t there potential issues of carbon buildup?  Again, there’s room to pause and think for a bit.

    • 0 avatar
      FleetofWheel

      In another thread someone posted the dollar cost (of fuel) for 15,000 miles of travel where the Camry 3.5 liter V6 cost only about $200 more than the 2.5 four cylinder.
       
      Then another post quoted the stat of the V6 weighing about 130 pounds more than the four cylinder engine.
      Apparently, a well designed conventional gas engine of moderate size can be quite the performer and efficient.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Toyota doesn’t recognize a problem, just more beige mediocrity following the herd. Totally useless answer.

      If Toyota had noted a problem, they’d have at least said that they were working on something.

    • 0 avatar
      V572625694

      GM, Ford, and Chrysler didn’t think small cars would be a problem, either. The long, slow decline of American Motors probably kept them convinced they were right longer than was good for them.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      psarhjinian – GM also used to call themselves conservative. It’s a fine line between conservative and way behind the curve. I (and many others) would also argue with the argument that DI turbo engines don’t achieve real mileage gains.
      Honda and Toyota have gone from cutting edge technologies in the 80s and 90s to being the “conservative” brand of today that isn’t pushing the technology envelope in any meaningful way – that goes for economy, safety and performance.

    • 0 avatar
      aspade

      “Turbocharging isn’t really required when your V6s are giving very good real-world mileage”
       
      Fuel economy in this country is a political problem.  As such it is defined by the original EPA treadmill test from 1975.  That test drastically overstates the benefit of under engined vehicles so guess what Toyota is going to build.
       
      Real world results be damned.  (As they are with most of what Washington inflicts on us.)
       

  • avatar
    Steven02

    I also laugh at the commercial talking about how Toyota invent hybrid synergy drive knowing that they have lost a few patent lawsuits over it.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      It’s worth noting that:
      * Paice and Dr. Severinsky never built a working prototype, nor did anyone commercialize parallel hybrid power before Toyota.
      * The Paice patents in question refer to extant patents on similar that Toyota itself developed.
       
      In practical terms, Toyota did “invent” the mass-market parallel hybrid car. The whole situation surrounding Paice really, really bothers me because it point to exactly how broken the patent system is.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      The patent system is broken in many parts, no doubt (and software patents are a huge part of that).   But a patent fundamentally does not require commercialization or even a prototype — it only requires an invention.  That’s not the broken part of the patent system.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      No, the broken part of the patent system is inventing something (or at least buying the patent for something someone invented) and sitting on it until someone else commercializes it and is irrevocably committed to it, and then suing them.
       
      Which, honestly, is exactly what Paice did.
       
      The point of patents are to incentivize small and innovative entities and shield them from exploitation by existing oligopolies who would stifle innovation to protect their market.  They’re not supposed to be used as a kind of intellectual-property mutually-assured-destruction arsenal (IBM) or, worse, as a lawsuit-generated revenue stream (Acacia).

    • 0 avatar
      FleetofWheel

      Correct and to put it more simply: to get useful new products into the hands of consumers (or to intermediate producers for process innovations).
       
      The very fact that patents eventually lapse is in keeping with this notion of dispersing accomplished progress more widely and to spur further development.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      I don’t necessarily think the system is broken.  If you invent something, but are unable to actually build the prototype for whatever reason, it shouldn’t count against you.  The patent is supposed to protect you.
       
      To me, invention doesn’t mean that you have to build it.  And to the patent office, you have to provide a lot of information to actually get the patent.  It isn’t a simple process.

  • avatar
    jj99

    Funny.  My 2 year old Toyota Highlander 4 cylinder has direct injection.  Where is Detroit on this?

    When Toyota or Honda start shipping turbos, I am switching brands. Who wants the problems with high mileage turbos.

    Furthermore, for 2 years, Toyota has sold the current generation highlander, which seats 7, with a 4 cylinder ( 20/27 EPA ). No other manufacturer offers a car of this size with a 4 cylinder. In addition, Toyota actually hits it’s EPA numbers in the real world. Compare that to Detroit vehicles where real world test usually miss EPA test by a significant amount.

    • 0 avatar
      RGS920

      Are you sure you’re not thinking of Direct Ignition?  Because I am almost certain that the 1AR-FE found in 4 cyl Highlander doesn’t have direct injection.

      Edit: Ah here is what I am talking about:
      http://pressroom.toyota.com/pr/tms/toyota/document/2009Highlander_sfo.pdf

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      Your 2 year old Toyota Highlander doesn’t have direct injection.  But, I will tell you were GM is with direct injection.
       
      Started using it in the states with the Solstice GXP and the Sky Redline.  Then it went into the Cobalt SS and HHR SS.  It is in the CTS V6 engines, the V6 Camaro, all of the Lambdas, The Equinox/Terrain, the SRX, the Regal, the LaCrosse, and I am not sure what else.
       
      Ford is putting it into its new Focus.  There are rumors about the V8 Mustang getting it soon.  Anything labeled Ecoboost is Direct Injection with a turbo.
      I don’t recall what Chrysler is doing with it so far.  But, that is my off the top of my head what Detroit is doing with it report.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Seems like the Toyota fanboys have been drinking too much Kool-aid. GM’s Saab used coil on plug over 10 years ago. Looks like Toyota is behind the curve in making extra power from small displacement engines in mundane 4-door sedans.

  • avatar
    marc

    Toyota is not new to the EV, turbocharging, or direct injection game.  To say otherwise is disingenuous.  Direct Injection is an expensive technology for a slight gain.  Therefore, Toyota, to date (at least in the US) has been using it on some Lexus models. (I don’t know about Toyotas overseas.)  Turbocharging is also an expensive and often unreliable technology, so Toyota has only used it on niche products.  Toyota has also, arguably, one of the most successful EVs on the road, the first gen Rav4, hundreds of which are still in owner’s happy hands.

    These facts do not make Toyota late to the game in any of those areas.  They make Toyota a discipined, calculating company.  As cost for direct injection come down, reliability for turbocharging goes up, and demand for EVs matches the media hype, Toyota will increase its presence in each area.  Until then, they still have a massive lead on hybrids and still have ever improving gas engines thanks to their VVT-i technology.

  • avatar
    FleetofWheel

    Lots of consumers will hear about a new car technology and think “interesting, I’ll wait until Toyota offers that feature and enjoy it in a reliable version”.
     
    If Mitsubishi announced some new DI or turbo engine advancement, would you seriously consider buying one of their cars just for that feature?

  • avatar
    RGS920

    What was a little more telling about Toyota’s engine development plans was Lotus’s debut of the 5 new models slated for production in 2015.  According to Lotus, they will all be using Toyota engines.   The most interesting to me is the 2.0L FI engine they are planning to put in the new Elise which is supposed to put out 300+ HP.  Obviously Lotus will do some tinkering but it seems likely that Toyota has plans to develop and implement a 300+ HP 2.0L FI engine.  I just want to know what car Toyota is planning to put that engine in.  Or it might just be that Lotus will super charge or turbo charge a regular 2.0L Toyota engine on their own.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      This isn’t really that impressive.  The LNF stage 1 kit was nearly 300 hp.  It carried a warranty.
       
       
      I just looked up the actual numbers.  It could be had with 290/340.  I am interested to see if Toyota buts that into something, maybe the FT86 that will some day come out.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    My best friend just swapped out a blown turbo on his known-for-reliability Subaru Legacy… after 65k miles.  $800 in tow charges and a used turbo later*, he is back on the road.  Carbon build-up in the intake ports of the 2.0T that was in my GTI is common.  Cam and follower hardness issues for the high pressure fuel pump are also not uncommon.  But, we are car guys.  We put up w/ the BS for the fun of the cars (well, I did until summer anyway).  My mom, on the other hand, probably wouldn’t.  Marketing DI & turbos to the everyday commuter isn’t something I’d do without knowing that the reliability was there… particularly when maintenance intervals often run a little too long for the average commuter. 

    * He did all the labor. The local Subaru dealer wanted $2800 for labor and a new turbo!

  • avatar
    pmjl1982

    Toyota always seems to lag… you remember the 3 speed autos on Corollas when everyone else had 4 speeds?

    But then again, Toyota has been at the head of the pack for a reason. Boring? Check. Fuel efficient? Check. Reliable? Check.

    No one ever accused Toyota of being sexy and pack-leading. They add features because they have to, not because they’re looking to make waves. The Prius is an anomoly in Toyota’s story, not the rule. Boring works, so boring Toyota stays. 

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    Turbo’s are great for combining economy and power. A friend of mine had a 1985 Saab 9000 Turbo, 185 horsepower and 30 mpg. And not much more lag than the slouchy response you would expect from any 80’s cars with Bosch mechanical injection. For some odd reason though, his ‘new’ 98 Saab 9-5 SE with the (more or less ) exact same engine makes 150 bhp and struggles to do 25mpg.
    The problems with turbo’s are mostly user-related. With a turbo car you need to warm up the engine and oil properly, and also allow it to cool down properly after driving,(much like old BMW aluminum heads), or they will fill up with carbon and boiled oil residue and die.(which more or less makes them useless for most of my short distance driving :P, so I’ll stick with old cast iron for now)
    And didn’t Mitsubishi offer GDi engines 10 years ago?

  • avatar
    Tosh

    1. I thought the future of roller coasters was mag-lev?
    2. Why has the engine size gone >up< on the Prius?
    3. Gasoline turbos, no. Turbo-diesel, yes!

    • 0 avatar
      Twin Cam Turdo

      The engine displacement increase on the Prius was to allow improved/continued expansion cycle (Atkinson) usage, allowing the engine to operate in a range that is more efficient than the previous engine at higher vehicle speeds.

  • avatar
    JMII

    I’ve own two turbo powered cars (a VW and a Mitsubishi) – both had the low end power (torque) and acceleration of a V6 but got the same mileage as your average 4 banger economy car (30 hwy). So I love turbos and wish more companies offered them. Honda has made some great turbos for their racing program (Indy and F1 years ago) but now their current offering is in a CUV with A on the grill. Still glad Toyota got the memo, or maybe they just found some of their old notes… filed under Supra.

  • avatar
    rfahey

    Toyota didn’t rush to market with the Prius, like Honda did with the Insight. Instead, it slowly and calmly drilled Honda a new bunghole that hasn’t closed yet.

  • avatar
    joeveto3

    While I Agee turbo engines have their place, I’m not thrilled with the one in my wife’s CX-7. It’s noisy, rough, and not all that peppy or efficient. In return, we have then “pleasure” of paying for premium fuel and more frequent oil changes.
     
    (on a CAR/STATION WAGON that is difficult to perform an oil change, what with the faux bash plates, presumably to protect the front wheel drive components, and all their screws – what a freaking joke – and don’t get me started on the filter element – rant off…sort of)
     
    I much prefer the 4.0 litre V-6 in my 4Runner.  It’s smooth, powerful, and a dream to work on (with 10k oil changes). It’s pretty efficient to boot.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      You must have the 1GR from the 4th gen T4R with the brilliant oil filter placement.  The 1GR for the 5th gen, like mine, requires dropping the skidplate.  Lots of cursing ensued when I did the first oil change*.  Change number 2 is tomorrow or Friday.  Hopefully things go better. 

      * I changed at 5k for the first change.  I will trial the 10k intervals after I get some oil analysis results back from the 2nd change.  I fear that my short commute (6 mi each way, 55mph highway) is relatively hard on oil.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • Rocket: Panasonic, yes, but with completely different technology. Plus, Panasonic seems to be an unhappy partner in...
  • brettc: It’ll probably just be me, so if it does happen I’ll take my time on the way back and make a...
  • SuperCarEnthusiast: Chinese based government backed car firm like they did for Volvo!
  • PrincipalDan: lol… (Used Car Dealer slang: Japanese Buick = Lexus)
  • Corey Lewis: That’s a fair point. I wouldn’t have eaten fast food!

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States