Toyota shifts engine strategy to focus on conventional units

Article by Christian A., on July 16, 2014

After years of favoring of hybrid engines over their conventional counterparts, Toyota Motor Corp. is now getting ready for a new engine strategy. The Japanese carmaker is designing common parts to stretch costs over several engines, allowing it to economically customize powerplants for specific vehicles with fuel injection and turbocharging.

Koei Saga, senior managing officer in charge of powertrain development at Toyota, told Automotive News that the carmaker is looking to hike fuel economy by up to 30 percent and reduce costs of key components by up to 50 percent through the new engine strategy.

The shift in engine strategy highlights how the Japanese carmaker is trying to catch up with rivals on engine technologies that have allowed them to gain on Toyota’s top fleet average fuel economy in the United States.

While Toyota is shifting strategy, it doesn’t mean that the Japanese carmaker is abandoning its gasoline-electric hybrid systems, which are so far the best-selling hybrids in the world. It is only aiming to make internal combustion engines more competitive.

Lesser costs built from shared parts could me more money saved for investments onto technologies turbochargers. The shift in engine strategy, however, could mean changes in Toyota’s mainstay nameplates like the Camry sedan, which would be offered with optional turbocharged four-cylinder engines instead of a V-6 power plant.

Saga told Automotive News in an interview that Toyota is aiming to achieve No. 1 performance in fuel economy and cost for all the engines that the carmaker will be developing.

He remarked that the carmaker is spending more time focusing on improving the basic performance of engines, which should allow it to maintain leadership in the market for a long time.

The new engines will serve as cornerstone of Toyota's overhauled product development strategy -- Toyota New Global Architecture, or TNGA – which is targeted to maximize common parts. [source: automotive news - sub. required]

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