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Toyota Outlines 2010 Technology Plans; Plug-in Hybrids on the R&D Agenda (updated)

President Watanabe’s plug-in hybrid slide from his talk to the Environmental Forum

In a speech to the Toyota Environmental Forum, Toyota Motor (TMC) President Katsuaki Watanabe today outlined a set of development initiatives for the next four-plus years designed to augment the Toyota portfolio of technologies supporting sustainable mobility.

While he touched on enhancements to its conventional gasoline line-up and described a measured approach to flex-fuel vehicles, he was more aggressive in its discussion of its hybrid work—bringing Toyota the closest yet of any major automaker to making a commitment to plug-in hybrids.

Toyota’s three main technology goals as articulated are:

  1. Improving fuel efficiency to reduce emissions of CO2;

  2. Making exhaust emissions cleaner to help abate atmospheric pollution, and;

  3. Pursuing energy diversification to limit the use of fossil fuels, particularly that of petroleum.

Conventional powertrains. Toyota plans to completely revamp its gasoline engine and transmission lineup by 2010 in an effort that began with the development of a new type of V-6 engine in 2003. As part of this effort, Toyota developed a new version of its 1.8-liter gasoline engine and continuously variable transmission that will become the main powertrain for Toyota compact and mid-size passenger vehicles.

The new 1.8-liter uses Dual VVT-i (Variable Valve Timing-intelligent) to enable continuous control of optimum valve timing for various engine speeds and loads. The engine will provide one of the best torque-strong performances in the 1.8-liter class, according to Toyota.

Toyota will use of ultra-light pistons, along with efforts to reduce friction loss among parts such as by using roller bearings in the rocker arm valve train, to achieve a targeted 5% improvement in fuel efficiency compared to earlier engines and to achieve clean exhaust emissions (equivalent to 75% lower than the maximum allowed by 2005 emissions standards).

As a target for 2010, TMC aims to achieve emissions levels that are 75% lower than the 2005 emissions standards and to exceed the level called for by the Japanese 2010 fuel efficiency standards by 10% or more for most passenger vehicles.

Hybrids and plug-in hybrids.Toyota will double the number of hybrid models it offers by the early years of the 2010s.

Watanabe also said the company is advancing its research and development of plug-in hybrid vehicles. Toyota is currently working on a next-generation vehicle that it says can extend the distance traveled by the electric motor alone and that is expected to have a significant effect on reducing CO2 and helping to abate atmospheric pollution.

For the autombile to survive as a sustainable means of mobility for the 21st century, we must push forward with the understanding that the greatest risk is not taking up the challenge of change.

—Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe

Flex-fuel vehicles. Toyota says that it has all the technology necessary to allow all TMC engines to run on E10 blends. Toyota will introduce E100-capable flex-fuel vehicles to the Brazilian market in the spring of 2007. For the US, Toyota is “considering” introducing flex-fuel vehicles in consideration of policies to promote bioethanol fuels.

Fuel cells. Toyota will continue its work on fuel-cell passenger vehicles.

TMC 1.8-liter Engines
Engine model 2ZR-FE (new model) 1ZZ-FE (previous model)
Engine type In-line 4-cylinder DOHC-16 valve
Dual VVT-i (intake and exhaust)
In-line 4-cylinder DOHC-16 valve
VVT-i (exhaust)
Displacement [cc] 1,797 1,794
Bore x stroke [mm] 80.5 x 88.3 79.0 x 91.5
Maximum output
[kW (hp)/rpm]
100 (134)/6,000 97 (130)/6,000
Maximum torque
175 170
Fuel efficiency
(10-15 cycle) [km/l]
5% or higher better than conventional 16 (38 mpg US)
Weight [kg] 97 96


  • President Katsuaki Watanabe addressing the Toyota Environmental Forum


Shaun Williams

Toyota News Release;
"TMC will advance its research and development of plug-in hybrid vehicles..."

Sweeter sounding words
I've never heard


Rafael Seidl

The extra bits required for AC mains plug-in/plug-out capability are actually not that difficult or expensive. Plug-out would be handy for the great outdoors. A lock on the externally accessible socket would be a good idea.

The hard part is getting an affordable battery of sufficient capacity and energy density to permit PHEV operation. Perhaps wisely, Toyota has refrained from a specific commitment to do any more than increase its R&D funding in this respect. It would be more in keeping with Japanese engineering philosophy if they made do with incremental improvements to the electric-only range. They are way ahead of the pack anyhow. From a marketing perspective, they could stress plug-out over plug-in functionality at first.


Any chance Toyota will start working on converting tUSA's production of electricity from coal to wind/solar/bio or even more natural gas? After all, a PHEV isn't going to do much good for the environment if it's feedstock is dirty burning coal or fuel oil.

Rafael Seidl

Honda has proposed a concept for distributed hydrogen production based on solar power. VW is partnering with Shell and Iogen to test cellulose ethanol production in Germany.

However, I am not aware of any efforts by Toyota to get into the fuels or electricity business. Perhaps that is just as well, you have to draw the line somewhere. Carmakers are looking for ways to ensure their products can adapt/be adapted to whatever the future mix of energy sources turns out to be.

As for PHEVs, Toyota is is not aggressively pushing the technology, merely responding to clarion calls from James Woolsey and others. These are focussed primarily on national energy security rather than greenhouse gases. In pure energy terms, PHEVs are almost certainly no better than cheaper HEVs. In CO2 terms, they may be since a large fraction of the electricity that would be used to recharge PHEVs at night would come from nuclear power stations (one reason I'm against PHEVs).

richard schumacher

The costs of global warming, borne mostly by the environment and by the poorest peoples of the world, will be much greater than the costs of safe, clean nuclear power. Environmental dilettantes should educate themselves, overcome their squeamishness, and become part of the solution.


In CO2 terms, they may be since a large fraction of the electricity that would be used to recharge PHEVs at night would come from nuclear power stations (one reason I'm against PHEVs).

You're also forgetting that coal fired power plants are much more efficient than a gasoline engine in a car. And the emissions from a single smokestack that powers a few hundred thousand cars can be much more easily regulated.

j Padula

I drove an EV-1 and used a RAV-4 electric at work. The EV-1 is a 1991 era design, the Toyata a 1996. The EV-1 had great acceleration for the time, the RAV-4 was fine.
You know since there is so little energy in batteries, the consumption was measured in watthours/KM or Mile. And the numbers were low. The cars had the capability to be truely zero emission unlike any other car using windmill, or hydro, or for two of my friends solar panels. BEV Cars on grid power get cleaner each year as the grid power improved, unlike cars with a fixed emissions control system on the date of manufacture. It is easier to change a powerplant's system or fuel source than a car's after being built.
Power electronics has advanced since then. So has on-board computing power. Each cell on a battery pack can be easily monitored.The charger inductive/conductive problem has been solved. Fast recharging is now a reality at any place that has 3 phase power, leaving out most homes of course. Cars can even put electricity back into the grid while being charged during peak times to help grid and make back operating costs, then recharge later off-peak.Carbon fiber is much cheaper and working with aluminum is now routine for automakers.

Could you Please explain to me why I can not have a serial hybrid electric car with a 30 mile range battery only and a PZEV emissions system on the engine. An engine that will burn ethanol or biodiesel or CNG? Take out half of the EV-1 lead acid pack (60-90 mile range) and put in the ICE systems (turbocharged). Offer the same car With a bigger battery and no ICE to spread costs out.
They make a car for every demographic group from surfers to cigar smoking bigwigs. I have to buy a prius toyota to get 50% of what we had from GM 10 years ago.
Carbon fiber is much cheaper and working with aluminum is now routine for automakers.
For the record, I own stock in one of those small companies trying to bring back BEV's after the ZEV mandate fell apart. The company's biggest stumbling block is that serious investors feel it is not too hard to make a car like I described, but too Easy!
They say if our expensive hand built models get popular, the big boys could make one within 18 months with better price and finish.
For the record, I do think the true cost of oil is over 5 dollars a gallon when the costs to society from externalities like pollution, health care, and national security is factored in.
I also do not like trading with an illegal cartel, and I do not mean the diamond guys from South Africa.
I also do not like trading with people who do not have our best interests in mind.
Driving a car that costs more but uses cleaner and less fuel is a small price to pay.
The next time you are taking your shoes off at the airport remember Congressman Dingel protected the big three untill they died. He still be around.
If you can not answer my question, why is every car, truck, SUV etc not equipted with a SULEV/PZEV engine if the car companies care about anything?


As an environmentalist who used to be activly opposed to nuclear power, I would like to think that we could safely have a more nuclear future to avoid greenhouse gases. However, that future may be somewhat limited by the fact that there a large volume of fossil fuels must be burned in the mining and processing of uranium, the construction and maintenance of the plant, and the storage and oversee of nuclear wastes for the indefinite future.

I don't know whether a serious ramping up of nuclear power makes sense or not. But like everything else, we need to ensure that a serious and objective energy analysis is done before we commit the billions of dollars and billions of btus necessary to make a nuclear future a reality.

I am less concerned with the safety issues than I am the fossil fuel energy input and economic issues.

Rafael: I am curious as to why you appear to be against nuclear power, primarily because I respect your opinion.

For a recent analysis of nuclear power go to

Rafael Seidl

Richard Schumacher -

you're welcome to disagree with anyone on this forum, but perhaps calling them dilettantes may be counterproductive. You may think nuclear is clean and safe but I for one am not convinced on either score. Of course, fossil fuel use is now widely believed to contribute to global warming. Both choices are ultimately unpalatable. That is why INHO we need to focus on conservation/fuel economy and biofuels NOW since it will take a few decades to figure out how to make ends meet with just those.

Icelander -

modern coal plants reach full load efficiencies of ~40% but the installed base is closer to ~35%. However, even with sophisticated demand prediction algorithms, power plants must be operated such that they can very rapidly ramp up their output by several percent in response to unexpected load spikes. This margin of safety can reduce thermodynamic efficiency by another 1-2%. Add in the losses in the grid and especially, in battery charging, discharging, power electronics and electric motors and you're down to 20-25%. A gasoline engine with a manual transmission will get 15-30% depending on engine load point; the corresponding numbers for diesels are 20-40%. Usually, the lower number applies. Plus, coal produces more CO2 per kWh than hydrocarbon combustion does.

J Padula -

the Univ. of Zwickau (Germany) demonstrated a Citroen Saxo subcompact with a 20kW engine and a serial hybrid transmission. It was perfectly serviceable in city traffic and featured high fuel economy in that type of traffic. On the freeway, it did predictably less well (the electric path is only ~70% efficient vs. 98% for a manual transmission). The two electric machines plus the batteries and power electronics were also deemed too expensive for this price-senstive segment.

t -

in a nutshell, I am no fan of nuclear power the problem of radioactive waste is still not adequately solved. Despite billions spent on site preparation, the long-term repository at Yucca Mountain is still not operational. Spent fuel is therefore stored on-site, where capacity is limited and the waste is inadequately protected against a determined terrorist attack (which would be incredibly expensive). In many cases, it is possible to reduce the volume produced through various forms of reprocessing, but this also concentrates the radioactivity. In addition, the material has to be transported overland and/or shipped back and forth, with the risk of hugely expensive accidents and terrorist attacks.

Sellafield (UK) is reported to have "lost" some 30kg of plutonium over the years, with similar discrepancies eleswhere. The hope is that this is a rounding error in the clerical work. Imagine the dollar cost in homeland security measures if even a tiny amount of such material got into the hands of Islamist terrorists.

Then there are the very high decommissioning costs to consider, estimated at at least GBP 50 billion in the UK alone. Even then, the most radiactive parts are actually merely covered and left to cool down for a century or more. A future generation will have to spend yet more money to finish the job.

Finally, whenever you decide to build a new reactor for yourself, it becomes virtually impossible to persuade other countries (e.g. Iran) not to do the same. Since civilian and military uses of radioactvity are technologically closely related (e.g. enrichment cascades), this immediately leads to proliferation concerns and the huge dollar cost of somehow containing the perceived threat.

Bottom line: nuclear looks cheap only if you downplay the true costs of radioactive waste and the risks to national/global security.


I’m very excited to hear Toyota actively talking about PHEV’s. However, the paragraph seemed guarded. Perhaps they don’t want to let known too many details because of competition. I understand their next Prius model will be out in 2008 (2009 model year). If that doesn’t materialize, I’m heading for Edrive or Electro Energy, or Hymotion as fast as you can cay “plug-in hybrid electric vehicle”!

Rafael, a PHEV getting 100+ mph would mean offsetting more than 4 X the oil and pollutants people are currently burning in their average 22 mpg car. Now if the plug-in is also E85 capable, and reading that Toyota is working on cutting the emissions of the gas engine even further, I have to believe that a plug-in Prius is much better for the environment. Worst case, it’s displacing pollution in urban areas (electric mode), where there are many coughing people, and repoluting in rural areas (electric production), where there would be fewer coughing people!

Then, consider all the energy going into the oil guess and discovery phase, drilling, coming up dry, then drilling again until they hit pay dirt, transporting oil all over the world, spilling some, but not a lot (how many dead fish and animals is not a lot?), then refining, and trucking all over the continents. And, how many gas stations are there in each country? And how often does each one get each grade of gasoline tanks filled, before the non plug-in gas guzzling tanker trucks drive back, get refilled and drive around to each gas station in each country in the world, again? Whew!


Can you plug these things in without getting your hands dirty? People, especially women, don't want to come into work or into the house with their hands smeared with grease looking like motorcycle mechanics.

An Engineer

Any chance Toyota will start working on converting tUSA's production of electricity from coal to wind/solar/bio or even more natural gas? After all, a PHEV isn't going to do much good for the environment if it's feedstock is dirty burning coal or fuel oil.
Let's not forget there is a lot of spare electric capacity overnight. Currently a lot of that electricity goes to waste, which is why o/n rates for electricity is so low. So we are already getting the CO2 and other pollutants, with no real benefit. PHEV would at least capture some of that energy.

An Engineer

Fuel cells. Toyota will continue its work on fuel-cell passenger vehicles.
Don't you just love it? Toyota won't say: Fuel Cells are bunk! Watch GM hang themselves on this one! What a load of BS!

But you can read between the lines...

Sid Hoffman

Hal asked how women would be convinced to plug in their cars. I'd like to know how women refuel them. Gasoline is a lot dirtier than an electric plug, so unless all women live in New Jersey or Washington or Oregon where full service stations are commonplace, I don't think that having people refuel their own cars is a big deal.

As for the comment about how there is no environmental improvement from electricity via coal versus gasoline, that has been shown not to be true. The thermal efficiency and polutants per kw/h from coal are still better than gasoline, even when you factor the transportation costs (not like gasoline is cheap or perfectly clean to transport either) of each fuel.

Rick Budde

I too am an environmentalist that is a strong supporter of nuclear power as a means to counter global climate change. There are a lot of irrational fears and misconceptions regarding the radioative waste. The material decays exponentially. After about 40 years the level of radiactivity has dropped by a factor of 1000. As time goes on it decays slower and slower but the most dangerous level of radiactivity is over with relatively quickly. The waste storage issue would carry a lot more weight with me if there were no waste in existence right now. Since there is already 50 decades worth of waste and we have to manage that, the thought of several more decades of waste doesn't worry me too much given the positve aspects of the CO2 free energy of a nuclear power plant.


You must be talking about Washington DC. In Washington state, in the "upper-middle class" neighborhoods I have yet to see a full service station. Oregon there is ONLY full service.

George- They don't guess and drill (I know you were just over simplifying the process). They do spend alot of money on those geologists and petroleum engineers though. In fact the major oil companies don't search for oil at all!!! Oil field services companies do that (Schlumberger, Halliburton, etc).


people dissing nuclear power, look up thorium and molten salt core reactors, Molten_salt_reactor

as for toyota PHEVs .. i just hope Mitsubishi will deliver on their promise to get full BEVs to market by that time. I can always buy a generator trailer, should i ever need one.


Anti-nuclear environmentalists have been the strongest force for preventing technology to recycle nuclear waste in the US. Also it has made sure we are still using the oldest nuclear technology available since a new plant hasn't been built on US soil for over 30 years.

Paul van Dinther

I am not agains nuclear power as an energy source per definition but what are we doing here? We are simply using way too much energy. Surely developing technology that is more efficient is the better way to go here.

The bottom line is that every KW/h of energy that is released from stored energy resources, is one that keeps going in the earth's energy circulation. Yeah, we can find more energy in nuclear power but does that automatically mean we should release that energy rather than looking at how we can use less energy?

It seems the cheap and easy way out to quickly turn to another energy resource as long as we don't need to change our ways.

Still an energy efficient plug-in vehicle is a step in the right direction but plug-in/hybrid SUV's are not!


Hal, my wife drove a Honda Civic plug-in. That is, it was a cold weather add-on that warmed the engine block (she is in home health and frequently parks outside at night). The soket was in the front above the bumper. Her only complaint was the socket got ice and salt stuff on it. But, it never stopped the plug from going in ok.

However, the PHEV that I drove (CalCar’s Prius!), had the socket in the back of the car. I don’t see a problem there.


Batteries are increasing in energy storage density at 9% per year. So by 2014 we should see double what we have now. Each year all electrics will become more compelling.. At first for the secondary vehicle a family has, then for both vehicles.

But in the meantime the plug in hybrid is a good next step. And can dramatically lower gasoline use by itself.


Paul I don't think people are going to use less energy. Even if we went to smaller vehicles I think it would only slow down growth in energy use for a time. Because we are using energy for more and more applications. As technology creates new products and services that we want.

Like the obvious example of these computers we are communicating on, and the background network that makes it possible. I read once an estimate that 14% of electrical useage today is internet related. So that is a totally new and large growth to the grid just over the last 10 years. I think we will see more technologies come online that have a similiar impact.

Paul Dietz

Bottom line: nuclear looks cheap only if you downplay the true costs of radioactive waste and the risks to national/global security.

High level radioactive waste can be economically handled by dry cask storage. The casks may need to be replaced in (say) 100 years, but the present cost of that expenditure is small.

As for proliferation: a decision on our part to not build nuclear powerplants will not, by some sort of sympathetic magic or whatever, prevent other countries from building nuclear bombs. Indeed, it doesn't appear that much of anything will deter a determined proliferator from acquiring bombs, as Iran and North Korea illustrate.

Anyway, if you're so all-fired concerned about proliferation, you should be opposed to the hydrogen economy, since production of hydrogen from water (by electrolysis or thermal watersplitting) allows one to also produce heavy water at low marginal cost (by passing the incoming water past the outgoing hydrogen in a catalytic exchange column, which strips the deuterium back into the water stream). Heavy-water moderated reactors have been a popular means of achieving nuclear weapons capability, since they can be made smaller than graphite moderated reactors and do not require uranium enrichment.

Paul Dietz

Anti-nuclear environmentalists have been the strongest force for preventing technology to recycle nuclear waste in the US.

No, the strongest force has been the very low price of uranium ore. Reprocessing of spent commercial reactor fuel has been, and continues to be, economic idiocy, and that will continue to be the case until uranium prices increase by nearly an order of magnitude from their present values. I suspect this will not happen in the lifetime of anyone now alive, even if many new reactors are built.

Joseph Willemssen


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