Toyota President Outlines Action Plans for Automotive Energy Diversity and Lowering Carbon Footprint
Toyota Motor Company (TMC) President Katsuaki Watanabe outlined the company’s new action plans in the areas of research and development, manufacturing and social contribution for promoting energy diversity in automobiles and reducing its carbon footprint.
Hybrid drive technology remains a core strategic element for Toyota, but Watanabe briefly touched on a number of other powertrain and fuel initiatives that Toyota is undertaking, ranging from short-term efficiency gains in gasoline engines to the longer-term focus in areas such as hydrogen and successors to lithium-ion battery technology. These initiatives include:
Packaging and weight. TMC is working on initiatives to reduce vehicle size and weight. The iQ, planned for launch this year, seats four people in a body less than three meters long.
Gasoline engines. Average fuel efficiency for new Toyota vehicles sold in Japan rose by approximately 28% in the 10 years from 1997 to 2007. TMC will introduce new 1.3-liter and 2.5-liter engines in 2008. The new 1.3-liter gasoline engine is equipped with the newly developed Toyota Stop&Start System. By the end of 2010 TMC will complete the transition to a new series of highly efficient engines and transmissions.
Transmissions. While continuing to advance multi-stage automatic and continuously variable transmissions, TMC will introduce an efficient compact six-speed manual transmission in the fall of 2008.
Hybrid Vehicles. TMC is working to further reduce the size, weight and cost of motors, inverters, batteries and other hybrid system components. In addition to already producing hybrid vehicles in China and the United States, TMC recently decided to produce hybrid vehicles in Thailand and Australia.
Ethanol. In 2006, TMC adapted all of its vehicles sold worldwide to E10 fuel and in May 2007 introduced flexible-fuel Corolla models in Brazil that can run on E100. TMC will introduce the E85-compatible flexible-fuel Tundra and Sequoia in North America in 2008.
Electricity (Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles/Electric Vehicles). Toyota reaffirmed that by 2010, it will introduce a plug-in hybrid vehicle equipped with a lithium-ion battery, geared toward fleet customers in Japan, United States and Europe. TMC also plans to accelerate development of small electric vehicles for mass production.
Battery R&D and Production. TMC is establishing this month a battery research department to advance the development of a next-generation battery that can outperform a lithium-ion battery. Panasonic EV Energy Co., Ltd., a joint venture TMC established with the Matsushita Group that is conducting joint research on batteries for use in automobiles, will commence limited production of lithium-ion batteries in 2009, moving into full-scale production in 2010.
Hydrogen (Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle or FCHV). The Toyota FCHV-adv (earlier post), the latest version of its fuel cell hybrid, received vehicle-type certification from Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport on 3 June. The FCHV-adv features a 25% improvement in fuel efficiency, and, through the use of TMC-developed 70 Mpa high-pressure hydrogen storage tanks, has a single-fill-up cruising range of approximately 830 km (in the 10-15 Japan test cycle; 760 km in the JC08 test cycle; as measured by TMC), which is more than twice the cruising range of its predecessor, the FCHV.
Watanabe said that Toyota is steadily overcoming the technological hurdles associated with fuel cell vehicles and will focus next on solving problems related to maintaining reliability and reducing costs.
Alternative Fuels. TMC is researching the production of cellulosic ethanol via fermentation by yeast. The company is also conducting joint research with Nippon Oil Corporation on high-concentration bio-hydrofined diesel (BHD) as a bio-fuel alternative to petroleum-based diesel. So far, the research has led to vast improvement in the oxidative stability of BHD, enabling the fuel to perform on par with conventional diesel.
Toyota is also conducting research on biomass-to-liquid (BTL), which is derived from the syngas resulting from the gasification of all types of biomass, including cellulose.
Watanabe said that automotive technology alone will not solve global warming and energy-related issues; it is also essential to address these issues throughout society, taking into consideration the actions of drivers and the state of the transport infrastructure.
In terms of infrastructural development in Japan, TMC is working with various government ministries to improve traffic flow by reducing traffic congestion. One potential method for accomplishing this is to find practical applications for the Probe Communication Traffic Information System, which gathers traffic information and provides drivers with specifically tailored driving information.
As one way to support environmentally considerate driving, TMC will increase the number of vehicle series equipped with the Eco Driving Indicator, which lights up when the vehicle is being operated in a fuel-efficient manner, and with the Eco Driving Mode Switch, which puts the vehicle in an energy conserving mode by monitoring and controlling such functions as gear-shift timing and air conditioner settings.
TMC is reducing CO2 emissions from its production activities, based on its Fourth Toyota Environmental Action Plan (2006 to 2010). Because TMC has already achieved its original 2010 targets, it has set new targets and strengthened its approach.