Toyota Speeds up Hybrid Tech Development as Emission Regulations Loom

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
toyota speeds up hybrid tech development as emission regulations loom

Toyota has announced it will expand the development of hybrid technology over the next five years to get ahead of strict global emissions standards.

The automaker plans to increase staff on its hybrid technology development team 30 percent by 2021, setting the goal of 19 emissions-friendly drivetrain components. The fuel-sipping technology could soon find its way into the majority of Toyota vehicles.

Reuters reports that the automaker took the time today to publicly affirm its commitment to green tech as emission regulations become progressively more stringent worldwide. “We need to take an aggressive approach to deal with changing regulations,” Toshiyuki Mizushima, president of Toyota’s powertrain division, said in a press conference.

The central theme of Toyota’s plan is to to put some extra muscle behind the development of a long-range pure EV, focusing less on the pipe dream hydrogen fuel-cell as the dominant power source of tomorrow’s emission vehicles. It also doesn’t hurt the company’s ability to fulfill its its sales have been cooling off for years. This new focus on advancing cooperative-propulsion could be the kick in the seat that Toyota needs place itself back on top of the electrified vehicle podium. Last month, the company assigned Akio Toyoda to head its new electric car unit.

Toyota claims that over 60 percent of its vehicles sold in the United States, Japan, China, and Europe should feature the new low-emission drivetrain components by 2021. That should reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 15 percent compared to the 2015 vehicle average.

[Image: Toyota]

Join the conversation
5 of 24 comments
  • Brandloyalty Brandloyalty on Dec 07, 2016

    Here is the reason hybrids are not so great for towing. A standard practice for people towing is to utilize engine braking. Are there any people who tow who don't know about engine braking? Many or most drivers who never tow either don't bother or don't even know about engine braking. A full hybrid can "engine brake", sort of, by creating resistance by regeneration. But this only works until the hybrid battery is full. Given the relatively small size of hybrid batteries, and the fact that only part of the full capacity is used, and compared to the energy needing to be dissipated when descending large hills, the battery is soon full. After that, speed control is done almost entirely with the regular brakes. There is some provision for engine braking by raising the engine rpm, but it's pretty weak. So a hybrid towing a trailer down a long steep hill is a setup for a disaster. I drive an Escape Hybrid up and down steep rough mountainous gravel logging roads. As much as 4000' elevation change. The hybrid battery is soon full and after that I have to use the brakes. The solution to keeping them from overheating is to descend at the same speed as one would descend if you were engine braking with a low range. This gives the brakes time to cool off. But you could be a traffic hazard with a trailer creeping down a mountain pass at 5mph. Another reason may be that a full hybrid has no way to supply gas engine power to the wheels while in reverse. Reverse is only electric. The hybrid's power in ev reverse mode may not be sufficient to reverse up an incline with a trailer. In fact, if a full hybrid is unable to move at all in reverse, such as would be the case if the wheels were against a curb, nothing would happen because the hybrid systems prevent current from flowing through an electric motor that is not rotating. In reality I have never heard of anyone being stranded this way, or frying the mechanical brakes. As automotive writers learn more about the quirks of hybrids there will be fewer mysteries such as why hybrids are not recommended for towing. There are other such aspects. If you want to see how much someone knows about hybrids, ask them to explain how Toyota's power split device works. Or why hybrid makers are increasingly equipping the cars with braking effect by lifting off the throttle. It would be nice to not have to explain these things for the auto journalists.

    • Stuki Stuki on Dec 07, 2016

      That currently offered hybrid cars aren't the greatest of towers, does not imply hybrid cars are somehow, for all future, incapable of being built to tow. European long haulers are looking into hybrid drive trains that enable them to run diesel free inside city limits, as we speak. The effortless low rpm torque of electric motors, are in and of itself a boon to startability and low speed operation, which could dramatically simplify transmissions on heavy towers. And nothing conceptually prevents the use of the ICE for engine braking once the batteries are topped up, as long as the ICE isn't dramatically undersized for the job, the way it is for current hybrids. Etc., Etc.... Of course, the added cost of doubling up drive trains are an issue. And so is, particularly for big rigs, the added weight and axle load of having to carry around batteries et al. So things work both ways.

  • Andyinatl Andyinatl on Dec 07, 2016

    That picture above accurately (in my experience) describes parking skills of the average Prius driver

    • See 1 previous
    • Andyinatl Andyinatl on Dec 07, 2016

      @OldManPants I think slightly bigger and better looking wheels would do amazing things to overall look. A lot of people think it's ugly; i don't. But those wheels look tiny in proportion to the body...

  • ToolGuy Question: F-150 FP700 ( Bronze or Black) supercharger kit is legal in 50 states, while the Mustang supercharger kit is banned in California -- why??
  • ToolGuy Last picture: Labeling the accelerator as "play" and the brake pedal as "pause" might be cute, but it feels wrong. It feels wrong because it is wrong, and it is wrong because Calculus.Sidebar: I have some in-laws who engage the accelerator and brake on a binary on/off all-in basis. So annoying as a passenger.Drive smoothly out there. 🙂
  • Johnny ringo It's an interesting vehicle, I'd like to see VW offer the two row Buzz in the states also.
  • Chuck Norton And guys are having wide spread issues with the 10 speed transmission with the HP numbers out of the factory......
  • Zerofoo "Hyundais just got better and better during the 1990s, though, and memories of those shoddy Excels faded."Never. A friend had an early 90s Hyundai Excel as his college beater. One day he decided that the last tank of gas he bought was worth more than the car. He drove it to empty and then he and his fraternity brothers pushed it into the woods and left it there.