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Report: Toyota-Isuzu Diesel-Electric Hybrid Subcompact in 2010

Japan Today reports via Kyodo News that Toyota Motor Corp plans to commercialize a diesel hybrid subcompact car as early as 2010 in cooperation with Isuzu Motors Ltd., according to “informed” but unnamed sources.

Earlier in November, Toyota acquired a 5.9% stake in Isuzu and the two companies announced they will collaborate on the research, development and production of small diesel engines and alternative fuels for those engines. (Earlier post.)

Earlier this week, Toyota Motor Sales USA Chairman Yukitoshi Funo noted that the importance of diesel engines is growing, and said that Toyota is considering a full-scale entry into the diesel market, mostly with trucks. (Earlier post.)

Both Isuzu and Toyota (through Hino) have diesel-electric hybrid trucks on the market. order to apply the technology to cars, it is necessary to reduce the size and weight of the engine and motor, and to lower prices as well, the sources said.


Adam Galas

A toyota diesel? That's also a hybrid? And a subcompact? This is the greatest idea I have ever heard of!

Imagine a Prius that already gets 45mpg rw(real world).

Now make considerably smaller and it gets 50 mpg easily.

Now make it a diesel and it gets 60 mpg minimum! Honda insight numbers!

From there there is always the plug in hybrid option that bumps fuel economy to 120 mpg and or Biodiesel which will be widely available by the time this comes out!

Except for an electric car there would be no more eco-friendly vehicle, and the average American would save $1550 a year on fuel!

(Average American drives 30,000 miles, assuming a 30 mpg car = 1,000 gallons at $2.3 for regular = $2300. 30,000/120 = 250*$3.00 for Biodiesel = $750.)

Now as to price, i imagine a sub compact hybrid will be super popular and easily fetch %17.5-20K.

Throw in the diesel premium and the price comes to $22.5-$25k.

Plug in costs no more than $5K by this time.

Would I pay $30K for a Toyota Yaris sized diesel hybrid?


A loaded Yaris comes to $17500, and a diesel hybrid will most likely also be loaded.

Thus the price difference is $12,500.

At $1550 annual savings this pays for itself in just over 8 years!

Of course fuel prices can be expected to rise even more so lets look at gas at $3,4 and $5. (assuming that biodiesel is $1 more than gas at all times.)

$3/gallon $4/gallon Biodiesel

Cost for Yaris@ 30 mpg(1k gallons) = $3,000
Cost for SCHD @ 120 mpg(sub-compact hybrid diesel)
= $1,000

Savings= $2,000/year requires 6.25 years to break even.

$4/gallon $5/gallon biodiesel

Yaris = $4,000
SCHD =$1250
Savings = $2750
Break even time= 4.55 years

$5/gallon $6/gallon biodiesel

Yaris = $5,000
SCHD = $1,500
Savings- $3500
Break even time= 3.57 years!

So you see, even making a purely economic decision with no carbon tax, such a sub-compact hybrid diesel running on B-100 makes sense!

Throw in the benefits to national security and the environment and you have a car that will sell like hotcakes!

Toyota is truely an innovation leader! No wonder they will overtake GM and Ford!

By 2015 they might even beat GM in the US, if they keep offering such mind-boggling vehicles!


Your numbers are extremely conservative.
Real world Prius numbers are ~45 mpg.
Making it subcompact (less weight) would be closer to low 50s mpg.
Diesels are 30-40% more efficient, so the realistic mpg of a subcompact diesel hybrid would be 70-80 mpg. That's with today's technology, let alone any advancement in the next few years, so 75 mpg is a conservative, very realistic estimate (possibly higher).

Fuel prices in another 4 years. Considering we were over $3 this past spring and summer without any supply chokes, and 4 years ago, gasoline was hovering around $1, I'd say $4 gallon/gas and therefore $4.50-4.80 diesel is very realistic.

2 scenarios:
Person A buys a decent family sedan
Person B buys a diesel hybrid subcompact for the same price (possibly even less by 2010).

Family sedan gets 28 mpg average, drives 20,000 miles/yr. With $4 gas, that's $2857 for fuel per year (ouch!!)
Diesel hybrid subcompact gets 75 mpg, drives 20,000 miles/yr. With $4.50-$4.80 diesel, that's $1200-1280 for fuel per year.
So you're talking a realistic savings of $1600 per year on fuel for a very average driver. For someone like myself, who drives 35,000 miles a year, the difference is astounding- more like $2800/year in savings.

Even if Toyota souped up the subcompact (allowing for more profit), making it cost $3000 more than say a Honda Accord, an average person will make up that difference in less than 2 years.
And that's a heck of a lot less money going to OPEC countries (that along with the potential $$$ savings are my sole reasons for finding green cars so interesting).

Rafael Seidl

Diesel engines are heavy and expensive, relative to rated power. Same for electric drivetrains. A diesel hybrid makes sense for HDVs such as city buses, especially wrt emissions.

Achieving reasonable TCO with a mild - let alone a full - diesel hybrid in the cutthroat subcompact market would require Isuzu/Toyota to pretty much pull a rabbit out of their collective hat. Opel developed an Astra-based diesel hybrid concept a couple of years ago and Citroen PSA keep tinkering as well. Bottom line: way too expensive.

Perhaps a 1.2L/45kW three-cylinder design with a fixed geometry turbocharger might do, especially if a 15kW electric machine were integrated directly into the crankcase. An unbalanced rotor would do double duty as compensation shaft for the first order free moments. The battery would go in the back as usual for weight distribution and safety. The spare tire, if any, would have to be as small and lightweight as possible. Transmission options could be limited to a six-speed manual and an automated step-by-step design, for weight and cost reasons. The top gear should be sized for economical freeway cruising, with top speed available in fifth.

Even so, I expect diesel hybrids would find few buyers unless crude oil prices went through the roof. This is entirely possible if Iran or North Korea become acute problems or, if the civil war in Iraq spills over its borders. As the Big Three have found to their cost, oil prices can and do gyrate wildly. In that sense, it may be a wise move on the part of Isuzu/Toyota to invest in a contingency plan.

For the US market, diesel HCCI combustion technology will probably not suffice to meet Tier 2 Bin 5 emissions. The additional cost of NOx aftertreatment plus a DPF could easily render any diesel hybrid concept DOA. Consumer sentiment in the manufacturers' home market in Japan is also hostile to diesels, though without any oil of its own, that country must be prepared to adapt.

Europe and much of Asia are a different matter, but initial cost is a major issue there too. The rest of the world accounts for just a small share of the global market.


"(assuming that biodiesel is $1 more than gas at all times.)"

It is somewhat troubling in both these example sets that biodiesel sells at a premium well above gasoline. The entire diesel scenario will excel faster if we insist upon bio production costs below those of petro. Indeed, the process of refining bio from seedstocks is several very large steps LESS than petroleum. And it requires no drilling, discovery costs, little transport, and much simplified transesterification.

These numbers will look even brighter if we acknowledge bio production costs on a par or lower than petro. Look, you can make this stuff in your back yard - that's the grassroots goodness of the idea. Let's not over complicate the thing before it has a chance to breathe.


"Diesel engines are heavy and expensive, relative to rated power."

What planet are you on?

The Yaris 1.4 D4-d engine weighs approx 120kg, with 90bhp and more importantly 140lb/ft of torque (That's 2.5 litre petrol territory)

In Europe where we actually have to pay for fuel, the diesel pays for itself in a year or two.


I think hybrid diesel will come in for larger vehicles (such as SUVs and MPVs) due to cost factors. A diesel Yaris is already very economical and getting it from say 60 -> 80 mpg would be of limited value because the cost increase would be too high. Getting a SUV or MPV from 30 -> 40 mpg would be much more use for the same cost increase.
There may be ways short of a full hybrid that can be used with a diesel.
If all the SUVs in the US were getting 40 mpg (US) we would be in much better shape.


I think FedEx already utilizes many diesel-hybrid delivery trucks in the US and they save a lot of money.


An excellent debate, as usual on GCC, but let's use a couple of "actual data points" to help anchor the discussion to the real world. This will be helpful for all except the fringe members who will choose to ignore this data due to its source: the EIA operation of the US governemnt.

1. While we can debate what the price difference between biodiesel, diesel and gasoline OUGHT to be, the "actual" price difference between regular gasoline and regular diesel in the US over the past two years has been about $0.25 per gallon. Not $1.00/gallon. Source, EIA. See:

2. The actual Average Miles Traveled per passenger vehicle in the US has to be estimated from 1994 data, but appears to be 14,000 miles per year. Not 30,000 miles per year! Source, EIA. See:

According to this data, the average US passenger vehicle traveled 1200 miles farther in 1994 than in 1988: 11,400 miles per year compared with 10,200 miles per year. See Figure 3.2.

Over 6 years, average miles increased by 1200 miles.

There are different ways to do the calculation to apply this to 2006. The past increase was 1200 mi in 6 yrs to 1994, we want to estimate the increase since then, i.e., 12 years to 2006:

1. Assume simple straight line extrapolation: 12 yrs = 6 yrs x 2, so increase = 1200 mi x 2 = 2400 miles, so new av = 11,400 + 2400 = 13, 800 Miles per Year.

2. Assume old increase was better characterized as a “a percentage increase over 6 years”, then Old Increase = 1200/10,200 = an 11.765% increase over 6 years. And we can say the New Increase consists of two identical six year percentage increases in series starting from 1994 with 11,400 miles/year. So:
New average = (11,400 x 1.11765) x 1.11765 = 14,240 Miles per Year.

Split the difference and conclude that in 2006 the Average US passenger vehicle traveled about:

14,000 Miles Per Year.

Not 30,000!

This is good data to use. Now back to the debate.


I'd love a diesel subcompact or compact. Right now there is the Golf TDI and umm... Well a diesel hybrid with the 2010 emissions standards is a great vehicle. With WVO or SVO kits (Fribrid and Greasecar are 2) and rendering companies now converting WVO to Biodiesel cars like this are great. Diesels now produce 1ooHP/Liter BMW and Alpine do it. They spin to 6000RPM forget 4000RPM and with sequential turbos have great throttle response. Some diesels in the high performance arena have around 200 pounds feet of torque per liter. This is with the super clean and now quiet diesel engine reality. With the advent of aluminum blocks these engines are a lot lighter than before. Lets not forget a diesel has now won the 12 hours of Seabring and backed it up with the 24 hours of Le Mans. All this with green miserly intent.

Anon E. Mouse

How about the very real possibility that c02 will finally become more important than nox and particulate? Over the next several years, the world will finally wake up to the fact that c02 must be reduced at all costs. Ever accelerating climate change will bring real problems to the planet and to you, the reader, which make nox and particulate pale by comparison. It will be very sad if in 20-30 years we look back and see that we allowed old views of what is "clean" prevent us from making the changes which would have averted or minimized great disasters.

When will you, the reader who disagrees, finally decide that it is too warm outside, or too dry outside, or too erratic outside? When will you finally open your eyes?


Wait, I thought Toyota said NO to diesel/electric hybrids just a few weeks ago? Am I imagining things?


Johny, that was a quote on BBC that one of the commenters posted.
granted, that quote turned out to be total BS because toyota is ALREADY producing hybrid diesels in japan. take a look at the Dyna hybrid


some basic specs for the toyota diesel dyna hybrid:
electric motor output: 36 kW (43 hp)
battery voltage: 288 V (Ni-MH)
diesel engine displacement: 4 L
max output: 100 kW @ 3000 rpm (134 hp)
max torque: 353 N-m @ 1600 rpm (260 lb-ft)

comparatively, the prius has a motor w/output 50 kW (67 hp), a battery of 201 V, and a gas engine with 57 kW (76 hp) with torque 111 N-m (82 lb-ft).


I wish that Ford would have had the vision to build hybrid Crown Victoria's, can you imagine the benefits of improving the gas mileage of every cop car in the US from 12 mpg to 28 or 30 mpg? They are the ones that drive 30,000 miles a year, all of it around town. Or how about garbage trucks with hybrid engines, go from 8mpg to 15. If you look at the gas saved, and the emissions avoided, by increasing the mileage of a gas guzzler from 15mpg to 30mpg, it just makes so much more of a difference than increasing a civic from 30 mpg to 60 mpg.
Former saves 500 gallons, given a normal amount of driving, (12-15,000 miles per year) and the latter saves a respectable but noticeably smaller 250 gallons.
But for police cars, can you imagine how easy a sale Ford would have had, "We can sell you a car that does everything last years car did, plus it will power all your new electronics gear, give you points with every newspaper and environmentally savvy voter in your area, and it will save you 1000 gallons of gas each and every year you own it."

Rafael Seidl

Nij -

the 1.5L naturally aspirated gasoline engine on the Yaris gets 106hp. An Opel 1.8l model weighs 120kg and delivers 136hp/175Nm. So whichever way you look at it, diesels are in fact more expensive and heavier. Your point about how long it takes before the diesel comes out ahead is well taken. But we're talking about diesel *hybrids* in this thread, and those would take much longer to amortize.


Cop cars and taxis both.  Ideally, they'd be plug-ins so they could pull juice and run their systems (like A/C) without burning fuel while they were parked at taxi stands, on stake-outs, and the like.

Yes, some provision would have to be made to disconnect the charging cable automatically for e.g. answering calls.  That's an engineering detail, not an issue of system architecture.


Assuming for a minute that the clean diesel/hybrid is prohibitively expensive for this vehicle class, why not a flex fueled or even ethanol optimized hybrid subcompact? Speaking of which, is the flex fueled hybrid Escape project still out there or did it die quietly? It seems to me that ethanol becomes a much more viable fuel source at , say, 50+ mpg versus sub 20.


Ethanol is a much smaller CAFE credit at 50+ MPG vs. sub-20.  The whole flex-fuel thing is a scam.

shaun mann

anyone who lives in a city or has waited at a stoplight next to a bus or semi knows that there is more to being green than CO2 and mpg.

there is only one model of diesel sold in the US today as a 2007 model year car because NOx and particulate matter are important. not only b/c black clouds coming out of school busses looks nasty, but because they are important contributors to lung cancer and acid rain. these problems can surely be solved in an economic manner, but they haven't yet.

additionally, playing the mpg game becomes dumb at some point. doubling the mpg from 50 to 100 sounds impressive, sure, but (assuming $2/gal 15,000 mi/yr) the cost difference is $600-$300=$300, which is less than the cost of one car payment or $.82/day aka neglible. it won't even pay for your starbucks.

whereas a change from 9 mpg to 12 mpg (only a 30% increase) in a full-size (grossly oversized for most of us) truck gives a cost savings of $3333-$2500=$833 almost three times as much. and these sorts of improvements (such as the displacement on demand technology) are much easier to find.

point being: small improvements in big engines and migration from larger to smaller vehicles are much bigger matters to be excited about than large improvements in small engines and migration from small to tiny vehicles (which, in this case, won't be legal in states for environmental reasons anyway).


Shaun Mann's comments are the most sensible thing I've seen in this thread. Every time diesels come up, it seems like some people's brains just go right out the window. Global warming is a problem with a time frame measured in decades. Particulates are a problem that kills people today. It's estimated that particulates are responsible for thousands of premature deaths annually in the US. We have lots of ways to reduce CO2 without killing and sickening people.


There is problem with diesel hybrid cars. Gasoline engine most of the time works on partially closed throttle, which significantly diminish it efficiency. Also gasoline engine consumes a lot of fuel while idling. Diesel engine maintains its high efficiency on partial power and consumes very little fuel on idle. Now, gasoline hybrid stops engine at traffic lights and eliminates idle completely. Due to CV transmission, gasoline engine in hybrids works on low RPM and wider throttle, i.e. close to its max efficiency. Also hybrid configuration allows beneficial use of more efficient Atkinson cycle, like in Prius gasoline engine. Substitution of gasoline engine by diesel in hybrid car will yield only marginal improvement in fuel efficiency, 10% max. I agree with Rafael that for car traveling 15 000 miles a year diesel hybrid does not worth troubles. For commercial vehicles, like buses, delivery vans, or refuse collection trucks, diesel hybrid makes total sense.


I drive over 50,000 miles a year. I drive a 4 cylinder honda. Soon I'm getting a TDI Greasecar. Can't wait!


Sorry George, though as an asthmatic doctor you might expect me to agree with you I think you're way off. First, when I worked in what Americans would call the ER, I never saw anyone who came in dying of *particulates* - sure, across the world toxic cocktails of smog kill people (looking back at respiratory deaths from London's "pea-souper" smogs before the advent of the Clean Air Act reduced the use of coal in domestic heating and you could certainly point to large numbers of excess deaths), but nowadays (outside smog areas - which come about for more reasons than just particulates) we are primarily looking at effects which are gradual exposure damage, possibly measured over a period of decades. If we are trying to compare particulates with CO2 then we should look at the long-term consequences of both to lives. In global terms CO2 is much, much, much, much worse than particulates and timescales which are critical now for emissions are years not decades even though worst effects may be felt across decades. To be fair the calculations will get much messier if one is trying to match CO2 emissions from a single vehicle versus estimated health consequences for diesel from one vehicle. I also suspect that a diesel motor, constantly running at close to its optimum parameters as a generator in a hybrid, rather than as a variable output direct drive motor as currently, will be much better on particulates even if it isn't so markedly more efficient as Rafael suggest. A more important issue I think is what expectation you have of your transport fleet as a nation. Think about car replacement rates (and whether these will go up or down as energy generally gets more expensive), think about fuel availability and whether bio-diesel or dodgier fuel stuffs will be more available than petroleum. Think about wider issues and I suspect you will want to have quite a lot of small diesel-hybrids in your fleet mix, robustly enough built to last 10+years out there as you can get while the costs are relatively small (though I agree the capital expense and apparent initial running costs are high and trucks are a bigger target.. but then getting more people onto pedal bikes is probably a bigger win for health and planet than anything on this blog!).



50.000 miles a year? Are you living in a runing car?

Anon E. Mouse

George. Light duty diesels are not causing those deaths. Trucks/buses/construction equipment are causing those deaths. CO2 is, yes IS, causing hundreds of thousands of deaths per year already.

Biodiesel is a much more viable fuel than ethanol, requires no new infrastructure, already can be made from a myriad of feed stocks, both virgin and waste. Oh yes, it also results in much lower particulate without any after treatment. Yes, a little more NOX.

Diesels mean a viable fleet of vehicles running on carbon neutral fuel. Diesels mean a fleet of vehicles that will last twice as long as a gasoline fleet. Diesels mean smaller vehicles with high torque. DIESLES MEAN LESS CO2.

The planet is roasting and you're oblivious.

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