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Toyota Outlines Technology Strategy for Alternative Powertrains: Right Vehicle, Right Place, Right Time

Toyota says it is pursuing all of these energy and powertrain pathways. The brick walls in the diagram represent barriers to be overcome. Click to enlarge.

In a presentation at the recent Toyota Environmental Forum held in June in Japan, Masatami Takimoto, Executive Vice President, outlined the company’s technology strategy for meeting the needs of a “sustainable mobility society”. (Earlier post.)

Hybrid—and plug-in hybrid—technology is core to Toyota’s plans, but Takimoto described a range of efforts across conventional powertrain development, alternative fuels, biofuels, electricity, and hydrogen pathways that Toyota believes will be required.

Because of the many obstacles that must be overcome because of alternative energy source, more than one type of vehicle will have to be used to obtain the sustainable mobility society, and because in each region, the energy situation is different.

Toyota believes it is important to provide different vehicles with different powertrains capable of using the remaining precious oil carefully, and using alternative energy sources. Based on the energy market situation from region to region, our goal is to achieve CO2 emissions reduction and cleaner atmosphere with the right vehicle, in the right place, at the right time.

Therefore, as described in the dotted line in the graph [see above], we plan to combine hybrid and plug-in hybrid technology with various types of different powertrains to help solve the environmental and energy issues we face and to achieve a sustainable mobility society.

—Masatami Takimoto

Takimoto discussed five broad categories of development work:

  • Further development of gasoline- and diesel-fueled combustion engines;
  • Hybrids and plug-in hybrids;
  • Alternative fuels, including synthetics and biofuels;
  • Electric vehicles; and
  • Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
Toyota’s directions in powertrain development. Click to enlarge.

Gasoline and diesel combustion engines.Gasoline and diesel will remain the mainstay for the time being, Takimoto said. Because peak oil is “undoubtedly getting closer”, it is important to use the remaining oil carefully. Toyota is trying to improve fuel economy by making smaller, lighter-weight vehicles and improving powertrain efficiency.

The company believes that it will be necessary to improve vehicle weight and size reductions in the future, and to be applied in all its vehicles.

Toyota is introducing new 1.3- and 2.5-liter gasoline engines this year. The 1.3-liter engines applied in upcoming vehicles will have a new stop-start system. By the end of 2010 TMC will complete the transition to a new series of highly efficient engines and transmissions.

Important directions for future engine development includes downsizing through the use of direct injection and supercharging; work on homogeneous charge compression ignition, and work on a variable compression ratio mechanism.

Hybrids and plug-in hybrids. Toyota’s goal is to have hybrid models for all its vehicle series by 2020. Achieving that will require ongoing reduction in the size and weight of the component technology, Takimoto said.

With its most recent electric motor (in the LS600h), Toyota is delivering output density of 3x that of the current generation Prius. Likewise, the inverter output density ratio has also increased 3x from the current Prius generation.

Toyota is also increasing the output density of its NiMH battery packs. Although Toyota has Li-ion work under development, NiMH will remain a major chemistry for its hybrids, Takimoto said. Toyota plans differentiated usage of NiMH and Li-ion, with the lithium-ion packs heading initially to plug-in hybrid vehicles and to small, short-distance electric vehicles. Future, larger EVs will be based on a next-generation battery chemistry.

The plug-in hybrid, Takimoto said, “is the most realistic option for utilizing electricity [as an alternative fuel] at the present time.

He re-affirmed that Toyota will introduce a Li-ion-based plug-in by 2010 geared toward. Toyota, which is also researching photovoltaic power generation and biofuels, suggests that supplying PV electricity to a biofuel plug-in is a means of completely eliminating CO2 emissions.

Alternative fuels. With a diminishing conventional oil supply, Toyota sees the coming shift of production to nonconventional crude such as deep sea and oil sands as increasing and raising cost.

From a medium-term perspective, automobiles will have to use gas fuels such as natural gas, or synthetic fuels made from coal or biomass. However, with gas fuels, the limited cruising distance proves difficult. With synthetic fuels, we need low cost and reduced CO2 emissions during fuel synthesis. Therefore, from the viewpoint of reducing CO2 emissions, it will be necessary to utilize biofuels such as bioethanol and biodiesel.

—Masatami Takimoto

Toyota is conducting research on the conversion of wood chips and other biomass to ethanol, and is also partnering with Nippon Oil on researching Bio Hydrofined Diesel (BHD)—a renewable diesel produced by the hydrotreatment of vegetable oils or fats.

Electricity. Despite the attraction of electricity as a power source for transportation, a number of issues remain, Takimoto said, including the energy density of the batteries; infrastructure issues (such as recharging facilities); and the greenhouse gas output from thermal power generation.

Toyota is targeting “revolutionary” energy storage systems. Click to enlarge.

Although Toyota plans to accelerate its development of small electric commuting vehicles, it is focusing on the development of next-generation batteries with greater energy densities than offered by current lithium-ion systems before ordinary vehicles can become EVs. The company is establishing a battery research department “to accelerate R&D on these new revolutionary batteries”. Examples of such batteries adduced in the presentation include solid-state lithium, and metal-air batteries, with the potential for a “Sakichi” battery.

Sakichi Toyoda, the inventor of Japan’s first power loom and called by some the father of the Japanese industrial revolution, founded in 1926 the Toyoda Automatic Loom Works and what would eventually become the Toyota Group. A “Sakichi” battery would represent breakthrough innovation that would re-define an industry.

Hydrogen fuel cells. Toyota continues to develop its fuel cell vehicles, most recently introducing its latest version of the FCHV. (Earlier post.)

On top of the challenges of the vehicle technology, the hydrogen related infrastructure and CO2 emissions reduction needs to be established in related areas. We shall aggressively cooperate with related parties.




"Toyota, which is also researching photovoltaic power generation and biofuels, suggests that supplying PV electricity to a biofuel plug-in is a means of completely eliminating CO2 emissions."



What a puuf piece. It all sounds really good, so when should we expect to see these great new vehicles. The 99 mpg Prius was originally scheduled for Sept 08, now it's maybe 2010.

Sounds too much like GM to me.


Have to agree with Joseph - The big auto manufacturers are very slow to get things to market. Then again, I frequently read about the Aptera, the Venture One, and a bunch of other electric or PHEVs, and they are not to be found where I live.

What is PUUF?

John Taylor

We see once again that Toyota has the Battery Electric Car hidden in the middle of this document. What is noted about it is that some of the infrastructure issues are important.

Strangely, they claim plans to use NiMH battery packs in hybrids, and only give a hint that Toyota will introduce a Li-ion-based plug-in by 2010.

Toyota has a finger in each pie, and will be ready to jump into any market that takes off.

When Battery Electric Cars hit the market, Toyota will no doubt have one of the best available.


The auto industry is in chaos. Toyota hasn't got a clue where the market is going, so it's strategy is to bet on all horses: gas, diesel, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, short range ev, full range ev, niMH, Li-Ion, biofuel, hydrogen.


it's good to see Toyota embracing PHEV's after initially being sceptical. also look at this:

"He re-affirmed that Toyota will introduce a Li-ion-based plug-in by 2010 "

looks like GM will have to get their skates on if they don't want to be beaten into second place by Toyota yet again.

Bill W

@ the arm chair coaches above:

Gesh you guys, what are your jobs by the way?

A run-of-the-mill Corolla takes around 3-4 years to hone EXISTING technology for a new model with only incremental changes.

IF you have a billion dollars to spend on developing a new car with not quite mature technology (which is changing monthly) then please, crank it out to the public in a about a year. Make sure it is about $15,000 and it has A/C and pwr windows and leather seats. Then we can watch you try to explain to the public why things dont work seamlessly or the batteries are not lasting as long as you said or the door handle is not as nice as their old lexus or the cup holder squeaks........

If you dont have a company that is beating them at this game, then you cant blast GM, Toyota, Telsa, Loremo or whom ever is taking the risk for you.

The folks at Toyota are responsible to the shareholders of the worlds largest vehicle company, their reputation is perfection, and you have get it right basically the first time out, and that takes money and some time.

They are not building a kids play car. That you can stamp out in about a year and it only has a one year warranty.


If you look at the barrier diagram, the EV row has one unlabeled wall, and EV appears twice on 2 different walls. Something got lost during the translation.


Bill W

I think you are giving the car companies far too much leway. In 2006 Toyota said that 2009MY would be the next generation Prius, 99mpg Prius. CalCars has been converting Prius' to 100mpg plug-ins for 5 years. If a chop shop can convert a prius for under 10K, Toyota should be able to do it for less than half that, economies of scale and all.

Bill W

Calcars did not design, manufacture and certify the car that their conversion rides in....

Did they cash test any of the "modification" that they completed?

I bet Toyota is working as fast as they can, but government regulations, corporate investment projections and work force contracts need to be met.

I have a feeling that if the Pirus ICE needed a head gasket at 60k miles or if the power windows stopped working after a couple of years or if the "transmission" required replacement with in 5 years nobody would be buying it, regardless of the MPG. If the smoothness of interface between the different drives working together was not perfect, it would have been another Insight or worse, just another car.

Toyota has to sweat the details that cost the most and takes some time because their clients, their reputation and the various governments where their cars are sold demand it.

Those sky high PHEV mpg numbers are always pretty fishy and certainly don't represent what an EPA test would get. Besides, hypermilers in both Japan and the US have recorded 100+ MPG tanks on a regular Prius.
Here are more realistic plug in numbers, from real world drivers
66 mpg for a PHEV Prius vs 45 for a regular one.

As for the ~100mpg numbers that were quoted for the next gen Prius...that was the MPG on the old japanses tests, which yields way higher MPGs than the new japanese test, which yields way higher numbers than the EPA.

See this thread for info on the 99 and 113 MPG Prius tests.
The second page has a good explanation.

Bill W

To the benefit of Calcars, Toyotas has alot of "scale", so they can sell thier conversion for 5+ years.



I'm sorry but being an early Prius owner and fan - I'm disappointed. This is a PuFF piece of magnitude. Toyota first told us they would go to Li-on for 2009, then they backed out and said they were wary of the safety issues. Now they're back with a 2010 PHEV (probably a Prius with onboard charger.)

Then they claim to be innovative with this:

"Toyota is conducting research on the conversion of wood chips and other biomass to ethanol, and is also partnering with Nippon Oil on researching Bio Hydrofined Diesel (BHD)—a renewable diesel produced by the hydrotreatment of vegetable oils or fats."

People have been running SVO diesels for years now. There are a dozen full scale biodiesel plants running today. And there are at least 4 full scale commercial cellulosic ethanol plants under construction in NA today.

Toyota does not seem to know where the market is going and may end up losing its top spot to older/new but reinvigorated companies.

Hopefully Toyota will make progress with metal air batteries (Al looks promising) - but in the meanwhile Tesla, GM, Phoenix, Mitsubishi are IN (pre)production today.


What's door handles, window winders and seats got to do with bringing an EV to market in a short time frame? These things have been perfected years ago, Toyota just need to add the new drive trains to current cars. You can buy 4 cylinder, 6 cylinder, petrol, diesel, manual and auto transmission, all in basically the same body of vehicle. I'm sure Toyota doesn't develop the door handles separately for all these different drive trains, so why would an EV be any different?


What a load of crap by Toyota. They are not technology driven or market driven. They are simply competition driven - like any old crappy monopoly.

4 walls on EV. 2 battery walls (why?). 1 CO2 wall (gimmie a break, EV uses 1/3 CO2 if coal fired compared to oil, and gas uses 1/8 CO2 for electric generation). 1 "infrastructure" wall. Like putting a plug jack in your garage is a wall.

The argument that Toyota has to tend to details and warranties and safety issues is also a red herring and misplaced. An EV has far less details than any ICE. And the details it has are alreday worked out on ICE (e.g. power windows) and HEVs (inverters, regen braking, motors).

This is a sorry statement by a monopoly who will see its lunch eaten by upstarts from China and India and GM. Bye bye Toyota.


Also, Toyota is also accuse of slave labor practices in Japan and other countries (including US).
The last news was the they decrease the hourly wages for the workers in some US plant from ~$25 to ~$14.


Toyota get it right they don't know what the future will be so they look in evrey promosing directions, contrary to some other companies who focus on a single direction or too (like Honda) or no direction at all (like Chrysler). Plus they are peak oil aware if I trust their words, and recognize that they have to do their homework on weight and size. Toyota will stay the number one.


So what is the Right Place and Right Time for a Tundra?

America, 1998?


The BEST information in this article is here:

"Future, larger EVs will be based on a next-generation battery chemistry."

I can't wait to find out what they have discovered so that this, ordinarily secretive and reticent company, can start to talk about an industry-disrupting "Sakichi" battery.

There is no way they would mention something like this if they didn't have something incredible in the product development pipeline.


Are they worried that improved battery technology makes battery electric bikes/motorbikes a much better idea than an electric car? Makes more sense to commute in a small cheap electric vehicle with an old ICE vehicle for shopping / familly trips etc. The most important task is to replace as many VMT with electric as possible and commuting in the largest share of these.

As for the barriers to all electric, infrastructure?? CO2 emissions ?? battery technology? - The RAV4EV never existed then?


I agree with Bill W that a lot of posters don't seem to understand the level of perfection that is required from a new car these days. Even more the case for an eyecatcher like the Prius.

People tried to destroy its reputation in the beginning, but now it is proven that it is one of the most reliable cars on the market, you hear nothing from those people anymore. Had Toyota followed the advise of some of the posters here and brought to market a less conservative Prius, it might as well have gotten a bad reputation.

And don't forget about financial risks. Toyota expects to sell a lot of the next generation Prius. A recall to replace the battery would literally cost billions. That's why they simply have no other option than to choose for rock solid proven technology.

The comparison with CalCars is unrealistic. This is a small startup company, operating in a niche market. That means they can probably afford a higher margin than Toyota, thus factoring in the possibility they might need to replace some of the batteries under warranty. Secondly, people that choose a CalCars conversion actively choose to do so and accept that there are certain risks involved. People buying a Toyota only expect 1 thing: that it works flawlessly for 10 years or so.

Although I am indeed disappointed, I fully understand their decision.

Dave K.

I'm impatient too, but who's built 1M hybrids? I'm betting Toyota's going to continue to dominate the green car market for years to come. You have to give them credit, when the big 3 were wasting their PNGV money and blowing up their hybrid programs (just 8 years ago!) Toyota kept building Prii and losing money on every car. GM scoffed then but is not laughing now!
I'm glad there's real competing technology again, personally I'm betting on EV-PHEV but we shouldn't assume...
Cal-Cars is a non-profit that built a rolling science project as a technology demonstrator, I think Felix and Ron deserve a lot of praise but don't confuse them with a automobile manufacturer.

Bill W


An EV probably has at least as many details as an ICE driven car, they are just not the same details though.

Yes, Toyota is competition driven, as well as market and technology driven. Also they are money driven. When your competition is lagging behind and you can not make enough of what you currently offer, why would you spend the time/money/risk on introducing a replacement? Toyota is probably making the money now that the gave away on the first Prii in an effort to get it out the door. Why rush that?

A new drive line requires a new round of certification and that is expensive and time consuming. I am pretty sure that each driveline configuration mentioned, 4cyl, 6cyl auto, manual, etc, requires its own testing/crash/EPA program. So just "adding" a EV driveline to an existing car does not make financial sense. Notice that most car concepts or recently introduced cars tend to have EV or hybird options. The cost of the certification for the EV driveline is part of the new car development.

If you want an EV THIS year, convert your own ICE car to batteries, look on the web they are out there. Let us know how it goes......

stas peterson

A cogent and probable course of LDV evolution.

Many who post here have no comprehension of modern science and technology, or how mass manufacture works. Ignorant of that, they assume their instant idea of today, is not being adopted tomorrow, say it must all be a... Conspiracy.

Firstly, Toyota recognizes what it takes in time or effort, and time to bring products to mass manufacturing availability.

Secondly, Toyota recognizes that product development is a combination of evolutionary process.

Toyota says that ICEs will be further perfected.

NiMh batteries made primitive, first generation hybrids possible. That chemistry and the energy density it makes possible made the HEV practical, (which MITI paid to develop) for them.

They also recognize that Li-Ion chemistry enables a larger amount of EV hybridization. Namely the age of PHEVs that we are impatiently looking forward to begin, in about two years. Many who post here are impatient. One good thing that GM did, is to make visible the process of bringing the Volt to market and how long it takes, despite being a crash program.

Many who post here are ignorant, and unrealistic about technology. There are some FCEV true-believers; there are more true-believers in BEVs.

Toyota says it will take something beyond Li-Ion chemistry, (as I did also, here on GCC), to make BEVs possible on a wide scale. Despite pleas that everyone can satisfy their transport needs with golf-carts, er "NEVs", er "Urban Runabout EVs, UREVs". It is as ridiculous as the possibility of building Priuses with lead-acid chemistry. They'll genuflect and even make a small smidgen of them, until then.

Ditto for the FCEVs true-believers, like the CARBite idiots. Although Nissan is paying court to those CARBidiots too.

Toyota says it hopes to have 100% of its vehicles hybrids by 20-20.

A BEV isn't classed by definition as a Hybrid either. Practical BEVs and practical FCEVs are beyond that 2020 time. Something else I have said on these pages before.


Bill W:

Yes, Toyota is competition driven, as well as market and technology driven. Also they are money driven. When your competition is lagging behind and you can not make enough of what you currently offer, why would you spend the time/money/risk on introducing a replacement? Toyota is probably making the money now that the gave away on the first Prii in an effort to get it out the door. Why rush that?

The point has escaped you. I bet you have never been in business and that you are a mega-company hack.

The point is Toyota is a monopoly. It can make a lot more money through collusion and market divving than through innovation or honest market driven supply/demand. Toyota must be broken up.

I challenge you to compare the details of an EV to an ICE. Lets not BS our way out of a debate. EVs have far far less moving parts than an ICE. Enuf said. Get a degree in engineering Bill, and stop being a hack.

EVs dont have to be perfect or dirt cheap on day 0. Those who want to gold plate everything are simply catering to the anti-competition monopolies (like TMC).

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