The Toyota logo as seen at a showcase for a car show in 2009. (Photo : Reuters)
Toyota will introduce a new direct-injection engine next year and follow that up with its first downsized turbocharged power plant in 2014. The company is also dedicated to continuously variable transmissions across its range of small to medium-sized cars. Currently the company doesn't offer any turbocharged vehicles.
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"By 2015, through improvement in the engine and powertrain alone, we aim to achieve a fuel-efficiency improvement of 10 percent to 20 percent on the models adopting the improvements," said Takeshi Uchiyamada, Toyota's outgoing product development chief on Toyota's website.
Key features to Toyota's plan include a 2.5-liter direct-injection, Atkinson cycle engine, to be deployed first in hybrids in 2013. The company would also like to introduce a 2.0-liter downsized turbo-charged engine in 2014 and more six- and eight-speed automatic transmissions for larger cars. Adding a shift to CVTs in small- to mid-sized vehicles is also in the works as well.
The change won't happen quickly however. Engineers are still deciding on how widely technologies such as direct injection and turbocharging should be used.
Toyota tested briefly with turbos in the 1980s but manly as a way to improve output from already powerful engines, not as a way to get a little extra life out of smaller, more efficient ones. Other companies have been featuring turbos for quite some time, such as Ford Motor which makes extensive use of turbocharging from engines with displacements as small as 1.0 liter engines in its pickup trucks. Companies like Mazda and Honda have started overhauling their engine lineups to make fuel injections their base technology as well.
Starting 2013, Toyota will respond to its competitors by introducing its D-4S direct-injection technology onto its AR family of four-cylinder gasoline engines. Toyota's AR engines are used in such models as the Toyota Camry, RAV4, Highlander and Venza and the Lexus RX.
A direct-injection, 2.5-liter AR four-banger initially will go into the hybrid version of the Toyota Crown, a Japan-market sedan.
"This is the beginning of gasoline direct injection for the four-cylinder engines," said Takashi Shimura, general manager for engine development in a press statement. "Smaller engines will be following this engine. As a trend, this is right. It will be standard."
Construction starts in a few weeks for a 300,000-square-foot expansion at the Huntsville Toyota engine plant so more V6 engines can be built there, and production is expected to begin in March 2014.