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Toyota and Yanmar to collaborate on marine development and products; Toyota Hybrid Hulls

Toyota Motor Corporation and Yanmar Co., Ltd. have reached a wide-ranging agreement to collaborate on technical development, production, and mutual parts use in the marine industry. A concept craft previewing the first product developed under this collaboration was on display at the Japan International Boat Show this week.

Toyota currently manufactures and sells aluminum-hulled pleasure crafts equipped with automotive engines. Yanmar is an industrial device manufacturer that has specialized in industrial diesel engines. The company also manufactures marine engines, as well as fiberglass-reinforced plastic (FRP) fishing boats and industrial vessels.

Although aluminum hulls offer high rigidity, they require advanced machining technology to manufacture, and can only be produced in limited quantities. To resolve these challenges, Toyota has been working for the past two years on the development of next-generation hulls that allow for production in larger quantities by using a combination of FRP, carbon, and aluminum to either equal or surpass the rigidity of aluminum hulls.

Since last year, Toyota and Yanmar have been working on the joint development of production technologies for next generation hulls, with a focus on using Yanmar's advanced FRP molding technology. As a result, Toyota is on the verge of realizing large-scale production of marine craft that use the Toyota Hybrid Hull, a lightweight structure that enables production of complex, curved shapes while offering rigidity equal to aluminum hulls.

Toyota has already developed a new craft, Toyota-28 Concept, that makes use of the Toyota Hybrid Hull structure for the first time. In testing, the new craft has demonstrated seaworthiness and handling capabilities surpassing existing models. Toyota and Yanmar will work toward joint commercialization of a model based on this concept ahead of an expected launch in October, with manufacturing (including the Toyota Hybrid Hull) outsourced to Yanmar.

The structure of the Toyota Hybrid Hull offers significant improvements in three areas: materials, composition, and shape.

By combining FRP (the hull’s base material) with aluminum and carbon, the Toyota Hybrid Hull achieves approximately seven times the rigidity of a standard FRP hull, while weighing roughly 10% less than a similarly-sized craft with an aluminum hull. The Toyota Hybrid Hull design also enables the molding of complicated curved shapes, leading to improved maneuverability and making large-scale production possible.

Using a manufacturing method called vacuum infusion molding, resin is placed in molds with an air vacuum and the three materials are integrally molded. A multi-layer structure packed with foam materials in the middle is adopted on the bottom of crafts, where the greatest amount of stress is applied.

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By removing the requirements and limitations of aluminum welding, the Toyota Hybrid Hull structure enables the production of boat hulls with more innovative and complex designs. This, combined with the use of cutting-edge simulation technology, allows the new Toyota-28 Concept to achieve low resistance and high stability.

Toyota will continue to enhance its own lineup of pleasure crafts while endeavoring to find ways to work with Yanmar in other areas, including product development and mutual supply of key components such as engines, in addition to sales and after-sales service.

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