According to the Rumorpile, Toyota is working on bringing back the Venza, a car that went out of production after 2015. The original Venza did not sell very well, partially due to its wagon-like shape and also relatively high pricing. It also lacked any off-road pretense that typically comes with a crossover.
The problem for Toyota is that there is a large Venza sized gap in their SUV lineup between the RAV-4 and Highlander. This time around, the Venza would ditch the wagon looks and instead be a true crossover along the lines of the Chevrolet Trailblazer, Honda Passport, and Ford Edge. There is a possibility that the Venza would come in only hybrid form using the same 2.5-liter setup with rear electric motor that the Highlander uses.
If the rumors prove true, you could see a new Venza hit the auto show circuit as early as 2021.
Toyota announced today that the Toyota Avalon and Camry would be getting an all-wheel drive option. It's the first time the Camry has offered all-wheel drive since 1991 and the first ever for Avalon. AWD will be available as a standalone option on Camry LE, XLE, SE, and XSE trims and on the Avalon XLE and Limited trims.
In both models, the car is powered by a 202 horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder and an 8-speed automatic. Camry XSE AWD and both Avalon AWD trims get 205hp with their dual exhaust.
The AWD system is borrowed from the Toyota RAV-4 and is called Dynamic Torque Control AWD. It is designed to help with traction in slippery weather but not drag down fuel economy when the weather is clear. The AWD system can direct up to 50 percent of the torque to the rear wheels. When AWD isn't needed, the system can disengage the drive shaft from the differential to lessen the drag on fuel efficiency.
Neither of these cars was originally planned to have AWD, but given the flexibility of the TNGA architecture they and the RAV4 all ride on, Toyota's R&D department in Saline Michigan was able to modify the cars for this new option. The body of the Camry and Avalon was combined with the drivetrain of the RAV-4. Floor structure modifications were required, plus the use of an electronic parking brake. The gas tank was modified, and despite of the addition of a rear differential, the trunk floor height remains the same. The addition of AWD adds 165lbs to the Camry while the Avalon's weight remains the about the same as the FWD V6 model.
Camry AWD will be arriving for model year 2020, while Avalon AWD arrives in 2021.
The current generation Toyota Mirai has never been a "looker". It seemed like some sort of Prius with a glandular problem. Toyota hopes to change that and make the fuel cell vehicle sexy with the new 2021 Toyota Mirai Sedan Concept.
The new concept sits on a rear-wheel drive platform and sports an new, more powerful fuel cell powertrain. Toyota claims a 30-percent increase in driving range with increased hydrogen capacity.
Most importantly thought, Toyota un-weirded the Mirai so that it now looks like something that might sit in a Lexus showroom rather than Toyota.
The next generation Toyota Mirai will go on sale in late 2020.
Toyota has announced that they will be bringing a new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid to the Los Angeles Auto Show this year. The difference for this hybrid is that it will be a plug-in and it will also be more powerful. Toyota promises "spirited acceleration" in their press release. As we get closer to the show, we'll get more details on range, power, battery size, etc.
The RAV4 is already the best selling crossover in the segment and that could mean that the RAV4 PHEV could end up being the most popular PHEV for sale. Globally that title currently belongs to the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.
Toyota has twice previously made full EV versions of the RAV4, but limited their sales primarily to California where they enjoyed limited success as "compliance vehicles" with 1,484 sold of the first generation and 2,600 copies of the 3rd generation. There was no second generation RAV4 EV.
...so slight, I had to look at the current car to see the difference...
Toyota has released an update to its funky little crossover/hatchback, the C-HR. The changes are slight and include a (slightly) revised front fascia, new wheels, two new colors, Android Auto and Apple Car play standard, and on the Limited trim, an adaptive front lighting system and 8-way power seats.
The C-HR already comes with Toyota Safety Sense - P, a suite of safety technologies that include a multi-feature advanced active safety suite that bundles Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Automatic High Beams, and Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control.
The C-HR is powered by a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder producing 144 horsepower at 6,100 rpm and 139 pound-feet of torque at 3,900 rpm. A CVT puts the power to the wheels, though in sport mode it simulates a 7-speed automatic. The C-HR has a EPA-estimated MPG of 27 city / 31 highway / 29 combined.
We reported back in April that the Toyota Tundra and Toyota Tacoma would be consolidated to a single modular platform for their respective next generations. Now Toyota is making a $391 million dollar investment into its San Antonio production line to help smooth the way. The investment is not expected to create any new permanent jobs.
The new platform, internally called F1, will first appear in the next generation Tundra expected in 2021 and eventually spread to all of Toyota's pickups worldwide. Tacoma will move to the F1 platform in 2023 or 2024. The new platform will be capable of electrification. One of the engines rumored for the Tundra is a Twin-Turbo V6 Hybrid with 450 hp and 500 lb.-ft of torque
The Tundra is the oldest full-size pickup on the market today, first debuting in 2007 with the last major update done in 2014.
Last week we reported that Toyota and Suzuki are forming an alliance to share technology and small-car platforms between the two companies. The deal, however, looked great for Suzuki but with not much in it for Toyota. Today brings some clarity to the arrangement.
India is currently the 4th largest new car market and is expected to leapfrog Japan to number 3 in the near future. Being such a large and growing market has outsiders clamoring to get in, but one company is already there in a big way. Suzuki's local subsidiary Maruti accounts for 46 percent of the sub-contienent's new-vehicle sales. We reported earlier that Suzuki agreed to provide Toyota with two compact vehicles to sell in India and will produce one of its SUVs in a Toyota factory in India.
Toyota has taken a rather hands-off approach to the companies it buys a stake in. Subaru, Mazda, Daihatsu all enjoy relative autonomy from the Toyota juggernaut. The same remains to be seen with this tie up with Suzuki.
Toyota and Suzuki have announce plans to formalize a technology alliance. Suzuki will purchase approximately $454 million of Toyota stock while Toyota will acquire approximately $908 million in Suzuki shares for a 4.94 percent stake in the company.
The two companies will share technology and platforms. Toyota will provide technology for electrification while Suzuki will provide platforms for small vehicles. Both companies will collaborate in the area of autonomous driving technology.
The two companies already have an agreement where Toyota will provide Suzuki badged variants of the RAV-4 and Corolla Estate for the European market, while a Suzuki model will be built at Toyota's Derbyshire plant in the UK. Toyota will get Suzuki's new compact vehicle engines for the Euro market, while both will co-develop hybrid vehicles for the Indian market.
From the sounds of it, none of the technology swap will be seen here in the U.S., but it does make us wonder about the small car agreement that Toyota has with Mazda to build the Toyota Yaris.
...rumor says it will have approximately 450 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque...
A rumor has been leaked that the next generation of Toyota Tundra, coming in 2021, would have a twin-turbo V6 combined with an electric motor for its top trim trucks. The tipster posted to TFLtruck.com saying that the new motor would be based on the existing 3.5-liter turbocharged V6 found in the Lexus LS and LC 500h. It would have around 450 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque and able to achieve over 30 mpg highway.
In the Lexi, the engine produces 354 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque and manages 33 mpg highways. Our suspicion is that Toyota is making up the deficit by filling the bigger Tundra with bigger electric motors and adding an expected 10-speed automatic, up from the current 6-speed.
Currently, the Tundra uses two V8s for its powertrain, a 4.6 liter making 310hp and 327 lb-ft of torque and a 5.7 liter making 381hp and 401 lb-ft of torque. Neither engine gets better than 20 mpg currently.
The next generation Toyota Tundra will be using an all-new platform dubbed F1 and will likely remain in Texas for production.
...a new modular global platform to underpin both..
According to an article in Automotive News, Toyota plans to move the Tundra and Tacoma to a shared platform, internally called "F1". The platform is to be used globally and will require a bit of modularity. The platform is said to be nearing completion and the next Tundra could be debuting for the 2021 model year.
The Tacoma will likely join later as it was redesigned in 2015 and given a refresh for 2020 at the Chicago Auto Show along with a bunch of other TRD models like the Sequoia TRD Pro.
For US consumption, all Tundras and most Tacomas are built at the company's San Antonio, Texas plant. Moving to a single platform would make things easier and cheaper on Toyota. But what of the other SUVs built on the same platforms? The Sequoia is largely based on the Tundra and the 4Runner is related (distantly) to the Tacoma. Those vehicles would likely be refreshed right behind the trucks. In any case, Toyota is planning on putting some electrification into the new platform.
A few weeks back we reported that the Toyota Yaris hatchback that we all knew and ...er... loved... would be ending production but we also found out that there was a possibility that the model name would continue in the form of a rebadged Mazda 2 hatchback like the Yaris Sedan.
Yesterday, those suspicions were confirmed. Toyota released details ahead of the New York International Auto Show of the coming 2020 Toyota Yaris Hatchback. Like the sedan, it is based on the Mazda 2 but with a Toyota front clip and badging. Surprisingly, it is larger than the old model. Wheelbase is up by 2.4 inches over the outgoing model and features a trunk area with almost 16 cubic feet of room.
Toyota describes the styling as "Cab-Rearward", giving the hatchback a hunkered down bulldog like look. The interior is standard issue Mazda with Toyota badging and we expect it to be excellent for the class. Toyota claims the Yaris Hatch will be a hoot to drive due to its use of ultra-high tensile steel frame. The high structural integrity combined with a MacPherson Strut front suspension and torsion beam rear suspension have been tuned for handling agility and comfort.
The Yaris will come in just two trims, LE and XLE, both equipped with Navigation hardware (SD card with Maps sold separately), but you could also use the standard Apple Car Play or Android Auto for navigation on the standard 7-inch touchscreen. Stepping up to the XLE brings faux leather in gray or black, automatic climate control, rain-sensing wipers, automatic LED headlamps, and leather trim on the steering wheel, shift knob, and parking brake.
Both trims of the Yaris will be equipped standard with low-speed pre-collision safety system, dynamic stability control, traction control, ABS, brake assist, and brake override systems.
Powering the Yaris will be the same engine as in the Yaris Sedan, a 1.5 liter inline 4-cylinder that produces 106 horsepower and 103 lb-ft of torque. This engine has direct injection and a 12.0:1 compression ratio. A 6-speed automatic is the only transmission choice.
No word yet on pricing, but expect a small bump over the $15,450 of the Yaris Sedan.
The Yaris will debut on April 17th at the New York Auto Show and go on sale later this year.
...the small sports coupe from Toyota and Subaru lives on.
With the introduction of the Toyota Supra, rumors have been swirling that the 86/BRZ twins might not be replaced when their production lives were up. Autocar UK has a quote from Toyota's European Marketing Chief saying "[the GT86] has been a successful halo product for us" and added that "...the Supra is not to replace that car."
The 86/FR-S/BRZ was released in 2011 as a co-development between Toyota and Subaru. It uses Subaru's boxer engine and transmission. It is highly likely that the next generation model would continue to use the signature engine. The new car would continue sit below the Supra in the Toyota lineup. Akio Toyoda has stated interest in building a full lineup of sports cars.
Whatever comes from the next generation 86, we're just glad that SUVs haven't killed yet another sports car.
New tie up would provide market entries to each company in different markets
Toyota and Suzuki are teaming up to share platforms and parts for markets other than the U.S.
Suzuki will get two hybrid platforms for Europe. Toyota will build vehicles on their RAV4 and Corolla Wagon platforms and also supply hybrid powertrain tech to Suzuki for use in other vehicles.
Toyota will get access to Suzuki's new engine range designed for use under the new stricter EU emissions standards. Toyota will build the engines themselves in Poland.
The two automakers are working together to build a two new compact vehicles for the India and four for the Africa markets.
Toyota announced today that they will be increasing their plan for a $10 billion investment in North America over 5 years to a $13 billion investment in the same time period. Part of that will be an additional $749 million investment in plants in 5 states that will add 600 jobs to the roles.
The changes include adding the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid and Lexus ES Hybrid to vehicle production in Georgetown, KY, adding engine and hybrid transmission capacity in Huntsville, AL and Buffalo, WV respectively, as well as adding casting capacity in Tennessee and Missouri.
These additions are on top of a $1.6 billion investment into a new joint venture facility with Mazda in Huntsville AL that will add 4,000 jobs.
Further details of Toyota's expansion can be read in their press release on page 2
Toyota Solidifies Its Substantial and Growing Investment in U.S.
Company Throttles Up Investments from Original $10 Billion Commitment to nearly $13 Billion Over Five Years with Focus on Advancing Electrification, Creating Hundreds More American Jobs
By 2021, Toyota will now invest nearly $13 Billion in its U.S. operations with plans to add nearly 600 new jobs at American manufacturing plants
Hybrid versions of the popular RAV4 and Lexus ES to be produced in Kentucky for the first time
Production capacity increases and building expansions at Toyota’s unit plants in Huntsville, Alabama, Buffalo, West Virginia, Troy, Missouri and Jackson, Tennessee
March 14, 2019
WASHINGTON (March 14, 2019) – For over 60 years Toyota has been growing its manufacturing presence in the United States, and today the company announced it will exceed its 2017 pledge to invest $10 billion over five years with a new commitment to reach nearly $13 billion over the same period.
Part of that commitment is seen today with an investment announcement of nearly $750 million in five different states, with more to come. The new investments include adding the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, the best-selling SUV in the U.S., and Lexus ES 300h hybrid vehicle production at its Georgetown, Kentucky, manufacturing plant; expanding engine capacity at its Huntsville, Alabama, facility; doubling hybrid transaxle capacity at its plant in Buffalo, West Virginia; and a building expansion for additional castings at Bodine Aluminum’s Jackson, Tennessee, facility as well as additional castings at its Troy, Missouri, facility.
“These latest investments represent even more examples of our long-term commitment to build where we sell,” said Jim Lentz, chief executive officer for Toyota Motor North America. “By boosting our U.S. manufacturing footprint, we can better serve our customers and dealers and position our manufacturing plants for future success with more domestic capacity.”
A state-by-state look at the new investments totaling $749 million and 586 new jobs:
Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama (TMMAL) - $288,000,000
In Alabama, Toyota’s investment will increase annual engine capacity from 670,000 to 900,000 by the end of 2021 to increase product flexibility and better accommodate market demand. New 4-cylinder and V6 engine lines will add 450 new jobs to its Huntsville, Alabama, facility, the largest hiring need in the plant’s history. The investment also includes a building expansion. Overall, the plant represents an investment of $1.2 billion.
Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky (TMMK) - $238,000,000
Toyota’s Kentucky vehicle plant, the company’s largest globally, will begin production of the Lexus ES 300h hybrid in May 2019 with annual capacity of 12,000 units while RAV4 Hybrid production will start January 2020 with an annual capacity of 100,000 units. TMMK’s 8,000 team members also build Camry, Camry Hybrid, Avalon, Avalon Hybrid and Lexus ES models with an annual capacity of 550,000 vehicles. Overall, the plant represents an investment of more than $7 billion.
Bodine Aluminum Troy, Missouri - $62,000,000
Investments in Toyota’s Bodine Aluminum plant in Missouri will provide equipment to produce an additional 864,000 cylinder heads for Toyota’s New Global Architecture (TNGA). Bodine’s 900 Missouri team members currently produce more than 3 million cylinder heads a year, which are made for every Toyota and Lexus manufactured in North America. Overall, the plant represents an investment of $455 million.
Bodine Aluminum Jackson, Tennessee - $50,000,000
The Tennessee investment includes a building expansion and equipment to double the capacity of hybrid transaxle cases and housings to 240,000 annually. The investment will also provide equipment to produce an additional 288,000 engine blocks a year for TNGA. The plant’s 300 team members currently produce 1.7 million engine blocks a year, which supply every Toyota and Lexus manufactured in North America, and 580,000 transmission cases and housings. Bodine will add 13 new jobs to its facility in Tennessee. Overall, the plant represents an investment of $365 million.
Toyota Motor Manufacturing, West Virginia (TMMWV) - $111,000,000
The West Virginia investment includes a building expansion and equipment to double capacity of hybrid transaxles from 120,000 units (Start of Production-2020) to 240,000 units annually in 2021. To meet the production demands, TMMWV will add 123 new jobs to its facility in Buffalo, West Virginia. Overall, the plant represents a $1.4 billion investment.
Ongoing Additional Investment
Today’s news builds upon Toyota’s already expansive presence in the U.S., which includes 10 manufacturing facilities. This past year, Toyota announced a joint venture with Mazda to build an additional plant in the U.S. The $1.6 billion joint investment will create up to 4,000 new jobs in Huntsville, Alabama, with production slated for 2021. Meanwhile, Toyota’s Princeton, Indiana, plant is undergoing a $600 million transformation (previously announced) to incorporate TNGA and increase Highlander capacity by 40,000 units annually. With this, Toyota is adding 400-plus people to its team in Indiana. In Blue Springs, Mississippi, Toyota is launching the all-new 2020 Corolla on the TNGA line that included a $170 million investment and an increase of 400 jobs (previously announced). Currently, Toyota employs more than 37,000 Americans.
It came as no surprise that Toyota decided to drop the Yaris Liftback for 2019 - they only sold 1,940 models last year. In our original report, Toyota spokeswoman Nancy Hubbell dropped an interesting bit of information by revealing they would have news on the 2020 Yaris at New York. Car and Driver has a possible guess as to what it could be - a rebadged Mazda2 hatchback.
Some quick background: The current Toyota Yaris sedan is just a rebadged version of the Mazda2 sedan sold elsewhere in the world. It was introduced back in 2016 as the Scion iA and then became the Yaris iA a year later.
Car and Driver is expecting the hatchback version to get the same front end as the Yaris sedan, while the rest of the body is unchanged. Power will remain the 1.5L inline-four teamed with either a six-speed manual or automatic.
Source: Car and Driver
In news that will likely not shock a lot of people, Toyota has dropped the Yaris Liftback for 2019. This was confirmed by Toyota spokesperson Nancy Hubbell to CarsDirect. No reason was given as to why the liftback variant was being dropped, but we have to assume falling sales were the key reason. In 2018, sales dropped 77.6 percent to 27,209 models - only 1,940 of those were the liftback.
Toyota is keeping the sedan variant but has dropped the price to $16,380.
CarsDirect speculates this might have been a tough decision based on fleet documents that list the 2019 Yaris Liftback production as "TBA" for a number of months after issuing order guides.
Interestingly, Hubbell told CarsDirect that Toyota has an announcement concerning the 2020 Yaris at the New York Auto Show in April.
Toyota is reading to launch their high-performance sub-brand GAZOO Racing (GR) with the upcoming Toyota Supra - debuting next week at the Detroit Auto Show. But what comes next?
"We have lots of requests from different countries, so it's really, really challenging to decide on the order [of performance models]," said Tetsuya Tada, chief engineer of the Toyota 86 and Supra.
"It's not just Hyundai. Other car brands are doing this too, so we are researching this and we have to create the brand strategy."
According to Carsales, Australian executives are pushing hard for a GR version of the Corolla Hatchback to bring the fight to the Hyundai i30N hatchback. No mention was made as to what could be changed, but we're guessing some changes to the suspension and possibly some sort of forced-induction. But judging from Tada's comments, this may be one idea relegated to the back for some time.
It has been a long time coming, but finally, we have gotten our first look at the upcoming 2020 Toyota Supra. The SupraMKV forums obtained a photo of the upcoming sports car in a transporter with most of the car cover removed from it.
Comparing this photo with the FT-1 concept from a few years back, Toyota's designers toned down the front end. The nose isn't as pointy and the bumper has three large intakes - not two like the concept. It also appears the bubble roof has carried over onto the production model.
As we reported back in June, the Supra will come with two engines from BMW; the 2.0L turbo-four (265 horsepower) and 3.0L twin-turbo inline-six (335 horsepower). This will be paired with an eight-speed automatic.
Toyota will be revealing the Supra next month at the Detroit Auto Show. In the meantime, we have pictures of the FT-1 Concept, a camouflaged Supra prototype, and the production model for your perusal.
Pic Credit: SupraMKV.com
Also said their lineup will be biased heavily towards cars
The past couple of years has seen a lot of talk about consumers are turning away from cars towards trucks and utility vehicles. U.S. automakers have responded to this trend by announcing cuts to their car lineup - General Motors being the latest one. But other automakers are being more cautious.
Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota North America told a gathering at the Detroit Economic Club last week that car sales are reaching the point of bottoming out - just under 30 percent in November sales. Unlike the American brands, Lentz isn't giving up on cars as they represent more than 4 million compact, midsize, and near-luxury cars sold to buyers.
"There’s no way I’m going to walk away from that. We are always going to have a bias toward passenger cars,” said Lentz.
The Associated Press reports that sales of passenger cars "are on pace to be 800,000 vehicles below 2017, while truck and SUV sales should increase by the same amount."
Source: Associated Press
Those pesky crossovers and trucks are causing Toyota to reduce production
Beginning next month, Toyota will slow down one of its three assembly lines at its Georgetown, Kentucky plant. Aside from building the Avalon and Lexus ES, Georgetown is home to the Camry - the best-selling car in the U.S. for the past 16 years.
“The auto industry is cyclical, and our normal process is to proactively plan months in advance for volume adjustments,” said Rick Hesterberg, a Toyota spokesman to Bloomberg.
Hesterberg declined to comment on how much production would be reduced by the slowdown. He did say that none of the 8,000 permanent workers or 1,500 temps will be laid off during this slowdown.
Demand for the Camry has been slipping for the past few years as buyers are opting for SUVs and trucks. So far in 2018, Camry sales have 6.1 percent when compared to the same time last year.
But don't expect a dramatic cut in their passenger lineup
Toyota isn't immune to the falling sales of passenger vehicles as more buyers trend towards trucks and SUVs. In the first ten months of this year, cars are down 11.1 percent. Meanwhile, trucks are up 7.7 percent. This has the Japanese automaker considering dropping some models.
"We are taking a hard look at all of the segments that we compete in to make sure we are competing in profitable segments and that products we sell have strategic value," said Jim Lentz, Toyota's North America CEO after the automaker reported an increase in quarterly profits.
Unlike Ford which is revamping its lineup to changing consumer tastes, Toyota isn't planning to "abandon passenger cars," instead "scrutinizing offerings in some areas, such as convertibles or coupes." No mention was made of the models on the chopping block, but we have a possible few candidates.
Yaris: Sales have dropped 38 percent this year
Prius C : Not big a seller and hasn't really been updated aside from the 2018 model Pruis C we reviewed last month.
Lexus RC: Sales down 52 percent so far in 2018
Lexus GS: Been long rumored to be heading to the gallows
And there was possibly three coupes in Toyota's lineup
As the Toyota Supra continues its slow march to production, the automaker is considering adding another sports car that may revive an iconic nameplate.
"We want to have Celica back, we want to have the MR2 back," said Masayuki Kai, Assistant Chief Engineer on the Supra project.
The biggest was Supra. Supra was number one, the biggest demand from the market. Now that we've brought Supra back, what will come next depends on the market needs."
Kai suggested that nothing is set in stone, but did hint that the Celica could be an all-wheel drive performance coupe. The MR2 could keep its mid-engine layout if a business case could be made.
There lies within the problem for Toyota - making the business case for either model. Kai said that today's market makes it quite challenging "to introduce niche, small-volume performance models."
"Sports car are becoming more and more expensive to develop. So a single company cannot afford to invest in all the tooling for parts and components, because the volume of sports car is quite small. A sports car requires a lot of specific components that you cannot share with other cars. The suspension components we're using on the Supra, you can't use on a sedan like Camry or Corolla. And as you know, all the homologation issues are also getting more and more complex and difficult," he said.
One possibility is for Toyota is to forge a partnership like they did with BMW with the Supra, or Subaru with the 86/BRZ.
Source: Road & Track
Approximately 192,000 Prius models in U.S. are involved
Toyota has announced that it will be recalling 1.03 million vehicles worldwide to fix an issue that could start a fire.
According to Reuters, the problem deals with a wiring harness that connects to the hybrid system's power control unit. Vibrations and accumulating dirt can wear down the wire insulation at the connection point. This will expose the bare wires and possibly cause an electric short - increasing the chances of a fire. Toyota has told the news service they have one report of a vehicle in Japan that went up in smoke.
The majority of vehicles involved in the recall are located in Japan. In the U.S., around 192,000 examples of the 2016-2018 Toyota Prius are involved.
Owners of the affected models will be notified later this month by Toyota. Dealers will inspect the harness in question and, if any wires are exposed, replace it with an updated harness with a protective sleeve, If none of the wires are exposed, dealer technicians will apply a protective coating to the harness.
Toyota is planning a big push with hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. According to Reuters, the Japanese automaker is doubling-down on investments for fuel cell vehicles by making improvements to reduce costs and building different models including commercial trucks.
“We’re going to shift from limited production to mass production, reduce the amount of expensive materials like platinum used in FCV components, and make the system more compact and powerful,” said Yoshikazu Tanaka, chief engineer of the Mirai.
Currently, Toyota hand builds the Mirai at a plant in Toyota City. Everyday, about 6.5 cars roll out of the plant. This is due to the detailed inspections that partially assembled models go through. The parts comprising the Mirai are quite expensive as well. According to analysis done by Strategic Analysis Inc., it costs Toyota about $11,000 to produce each of the fuel cell stacks. Blame the use of the platinum, titanium, and carbon fiber for the stacks.
Toyota has been building up production capacity as it expects sales of FCVs to increase from about 3,000 to over 20,000 after 2020. This will help reduce the cost of each fuel cell stack to $8,000.
“It will be difficult for Toyota to lower FCV production costs if it only produces the Mirai,” said a source,
That's where an expansion of FCVs come in. Toyota is planning a "phased introduction' of other FCVs, including SUVs and commercial trucks starting around 2025. Toyota declined to talk about future products, but did reveal that it has built prototypes of small delivery vehicles and transport trucks with fuel cell powertrains.
“We’re going to use as many parts from existing passenger cars and other models as possible in fuel cell trucks. Otherwise, we won’t see the benefits of mass production,” said Ikuo Ota, manager of new business planning for fuel cell projects at Toyota.
Why is Toyota doubling down on fuel cells? Sources say that Toyota believes demand will increase as more countries, including China "warm to fuel cell technology". The company also sees FCVs as a hedge against battery materials such as cobalt becoming scarce.
But there is still one issue that Toyota, and other automakers build FCVs still need to solve; infrastructure. There aren't many hydrogen refueling stations around. For example, the majority of hydrogen stations in the U.S. are in California. Not helping is a current shortage of hydrogen at refueling stations in California. Green Car Reports says this issue is due to various problems with supplier Air Products. The company said that it hopes to restore hydrogen supplies sometime in early August.
Source: Reuters, Green Car Reports
Chief engineer on the model confirms the turbo-four
Last August, we reported on a BMW document that revealed the next-generation Z4 and all-new Toyota Supra would have the choice of a 2.0L turbo-four and twin-turbo 3.0L inline-six. Now, a new document from German transmission maker ZF seems to confirm this.
The document in question is a "transmission catalogue" that lists the various implementations of the eight-speed ZF 8HP. For the Supra, it has two BMW engines listed - the 2.0L turbo-four with 265 horsepower and 3.0L twin-turbo inline-six with 335 horsepower. The Z4 will get the same engines, but will offer a more potent inline-six with 375 horsepower.
Testsuya Tada, the chief engineer on the Supra did confirm the turbo-four to R&T during the Goodwood Festival of Speed last weekend. He explained that the turbo-four would offer " better weight distribution" and a sharper turn-in.
Toyota used the Goodwood Festival of Speed to tease the Supra by running a prototype on the hill climb. Hopefully, Toyota decides to reveal the Supra sometime in the near future.
Source: Road & Track