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'Simple Slim' Cuts Costs of Camry 3.5L engine

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here

Can General Motors and Ford Keep Up?

There are two ways to increase your income; 1) spend less or 2)

How do you cut profits, without cutting quality, or dulling the 'cutting edge'?

make more. While no one questions whether or not Toyota Motor Company will have any problem achieving the second, the automaker is already a tightly run ship. Nevertheless, about 300 of its most creative engineers have figured out how to cut build costs of its popular 3.5-liter engine, by a significant margin.

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"Toyota's money crunchers must have done back flips when

The real beginnings to the 3.5-liter engine available in many Toyota products. (Photo: Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A.)

production costs for the new engine were halved to about $1,000 per 3.5-liter V6, what will soon become one of its most popular engines. The new V6, currently residing in the recently redone Avalon and completely revised top-level 2006 RAV4, replaces both 3.0- and 3.3-liter V6 engines for the all-new 2007 Camry when it goes on sale in March, the best-selling car in the U.S. The engine will also be the motivating force behind the new 2007 Highlander and should soon find its way into the Sienna minivan and replacement for the Camry Solara coupe and convertible models, plus a number of Lexus models including the new 2007 ES 350 sedan and RX 350 crossover SUV."

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Putting this into context, Toyota has not only managed to halve the cost of its most popular six-cylinder engine, but the very fact this same engine is used in so many vehicles will, through economies of scale, increase Toyota's profitability overall. Compare this to rival General Motors, the world's largest automaker and one that looks as if it will soon be passed by the Japanese giant for overall global sales, which makes so many engines V6 engines that it's difficult to keep track of them all. A lesson could be learned, with the General producing a variety of antiquated overhead-valve engines with only 2-valves per cylinder, measuring 3.4-, 3.5-, 3.8- and 3.9-liters in displacement, plus a supercharged 3.8-liter version in its Pontiac Grand Prix. Only Cadillac's 3.6-liter V6 boasts four-valve per cylinder and dual overhead cam technology, an engine also found in Buick's top-line LaCrosse. To complicate things even further, it could be argued that GM's most sophisticated V6 is the 3.5-liter mill found in the top-line Saturn VUE, but the fact that it's nothing less than Honda's superb Accord V6 is no doubt embarrassing to the Detroit-based automaker's execs.

The question that General Motors should be asking itself is, why make a total of six V6 engines and borrow another from Honda, adding complexity and resultant cost to the automaker's bottom line, when the only truly competitive GM V6 to Toyota's 3.5, or for that matter Honda's 3.5-, Nissan's 3.5-, Hyundai's 3.3- and 3.8-, or Ford's all-new 3.5-liter V6, is the 3.6-liter unit only available in the Cadillac CTS, SRX and STS, plus the LaCrosse? Wouldn't it be simpler, more efficient and therefore potentially cheaper to make one extremely good V6 engine, rather than five that don't really measure up to the competition?"

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"Can GM and Ford catch up and eventually keep pace with Toyota? History shows that the two will probably be left behind over the short-term at least, causing greater losses until wholesale changes are made, brought on by complete reevaluations of core business strategies. Ford, at least, seems to be on the right track regarding the number of V6 car engines it currently produces, while GM has seen improvements over the last five years by nearly halving the number of man-hours needed to produce its V6 engines. Such advancements will not be enough, however, to match the production efficiency and resultant lower costs and improved reliability of Toyota's Simple Slim processes. "

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But like Brewswillis said, it's all about choice! :ohyeah:

No doubt this will save Toyoduh money, but it will create one engine that will have to work in all truck and car applications. There will be compromise......like trucks with low torque? Now I don't know if GM really needs 6 V6's, but they have low cost V6's and high cost V6's.....and they go into appropriately priced vehicles. Toyoduh customers will either be forced to pay more for and engine they don't need, or get less of an engine in a higher priced Lexus.

Who would have expected that Toyoduh would have widdled their V6 engine choices down to one??

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No doubt the current v6 choices in the GM lineup are currently pretty craptacular, but this sounds like a risky move by Toyota. If they screwed something up in the process, it could be bad news for them instead of this kind of article.

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I would be interested in finding out exactly what these engineers did to cut the cost of the engines in half. More parts made in China? I'll bet there's a lot more rough edges, it'll be interesting to see if any of these show up in the long term.

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I would be interested in finding out exactly what these engineers did to cut the cost of the engines in half. More parts made in China? I'll bet there's a lot more rough edges, it'll be interesting to see if any of these show up in the long term.

The savings did not come from "cheapening the engine" nor form producing it in a cheap location (it is made in USA). What they did was invest in high end tooling and processes to reduce cost. They have spent the $ to invest in high pressure, mutli-bay, lost wax, block and head aluminum casting capability. Plus they now have the capability to produce high multiples of crank forgings with each loading. GM went cheap here and uses a cast crank in most of their engines.

So to sum it up Toyota gets great economies of scale by making one excellent V6 rather than eight half-assed ones.

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The savings did not come from "cheapening the engine" nor form producing it in a cheap location (it is made in USA).  What they did was invest in high end tooling and processes to reduce cost.  They have spent the $ to invest in high pressure, mutli-bay, lost wax, block and head aluminum casting capability.  Plus they now have the capability to produce high multiples of crank forgings with each loading.  GM went cheap here and uses a cast crank in most of their engines.

So to sum it up Toyota gets great economies of scale by making one excellent V6 rather than eight half-assed ones.

Exactly. I just saw it mentioned on a Sunday morning show, I think, and they talked about how the "always finding better ways" mantra at Toyota led them to a new engine manufacturing process that cut costs but improved quality....that pretty much summed it up, and is what is being discussed here.

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EXCELLENT article and truly spells out one of the examples of the differences between Toyota and GM.

(The article forgot to mention the 2.8L HF V6 though.)

I'm assuming that Toyota is still keeping the 4.0L V6 "truck" engine though. The article seemed to be referring to cars and car-based SUVs.

It's no coincidence that I've had a BIG (and proud) smile on my face every time I've gotten in and driven a CTS or LaCrosse CXS.....and a big frown accompanying my major disappointment every time I've gotten into anything else from GM with their pushrod V6 engines.

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The savings did not come from "cheapening the engine" nor form producing it in a cheap location (it is made in USA).  What they did was invest in high end tooling and processes to reduce cost.  They have spent the $ to invest in high pressure, mutli-bay, lost wax, block and head aluminum casting capability.  Plus they now have the capability to produce high multiples of crank forgings with each loading.  GM went cheap here and uses a cast crank in most of their engines.

So to sum it up Toyota gets great economies of scale by making one excellent V6 rather than eight half-assed ones.

Thanks for clearing that up. They are smart indeed, and obviously took the right gamble when purchasing the expensive equipment (although expensive equipment is never really a gamble when you have such a strong foothold in the market). I'll bet Toyota will be the first to have completely automated manufacturing plants, heehee. Either that, or Honda will find a way to put Asimo to work :AH-HA_wink:

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INVEST is the key word here.

make it better and more efficiently.  not just cheaper.

And $$ is the key word in INVEST. When you have money coming out of your nose (due to your minimal investment in America), it's easy to INVEST in better technologies and expensive equipment.

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And $$ is the key word in INVEST.  When you have money coming out of your nose (due to your minimal investment in America), it's easy to INVEST in better technologies and expensive equipment.

That is the beat part! Toyota is investing in America by building new and better engine building capability here in the USA employing good old americans. Contrast that with the GM model of investing in China for their newest engine plant.

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GM's newest engine plants are in the US and Canada. A new plant to expand production of the Global V6 is being built in Flint.

Of the other "new" plants, a new plant for small diesels has been built in Korea, natural since it will be for Korean built-vehicles, the majority not sold in NA. SGM-Dongyue Powertrain is building smaller Daewoo engines for the Chinese market. SGM itself is building smaller-capacity OHV V6s solely for the Chinese/Taiwanese market. It's not GM's newest engine plant, nor is the investment for export. Toyota also has invested heavily in engine capacity in China.

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GM's newest engine plants are in the US and Canada. A new plant to expand production of the Global V6 is being built in Flint.

Of the other "new" plants, a new plant for small diesels has been built in Korea, natural since it will be for Korean built-vehicles, the majority not sold in NA. SGM-Dongyue Powertrain is building smaller Daewoo engines for the Chinese market. SGM itself is building smaller-capacity OHV V6s solely for the Chinese/Taiwanese market. It's not GM's newest engine plant, nor is the investment for export. Toyota also has invested heavily in engine capacity in China.

Your signature is very befitting. Thank you again for the facts, Griffon.

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....SGM itself is building smaller-capacity OHV V6s solely for the Chinese/Taiwanese market. It's not GM's newest engine plant, nor is the investment for export. Toyota also has invested heavily in engine capacity in China.

GM's Newest engine plant (in production not on paper) is in China and the engines are exported to the US for use in the Equinox/Torrent. All this is done while closing plants and laying off workers here to put them in a job bank to be paid for not working. Toyota on the other hand is investing in the US by increasing the US content of their cars, i.e new engine and assemnbly plants. Toyota's investment is good for the USA just not good for the UAW.

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To me the argument of where either companies is investing is moot....both are investing in America, and around the world. Both are putting more Americans to work each year, while losing a lot as well. I don't get what the big deal is.

As for the engines themselves, since this article is talking about engines for cars, yes it is true Toyota will have only one V6 engine for its cars and car-based SUVs. This technique is exactly what was being discussed all through last week by us in the other thread. Economies of scale meets newer, more advanced mfg techniques and badaboom everyone gets great engines in their cars. GM should take note.

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And $$ is the key word in INVEST.  When you have money coming out of your nose (due to your minimal investment in America), it's easy to INVEST in better technologies and expensive equipment.

weak defense. Toyota is doing plenty to invest in America, the reason they have money lining thier pockets is because blue-blooded Americans are lining up to buy thier well-engineered cars.

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weak defense. Toyota is doing plenty to invest in America, the reason they have money lining thier pockets is because blue-blooded Americans are lining up to buy thier well-engineered cars.

and the engines have a lot to do with it.

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GM's Newest engine plant (in production not on paper) is in China and the engines are exported to the US for use in the Equinox/Torrent.  All this is done while closing plants and laying off workers here to put them in a job bank to be paid for not working.  Toyota on the other hand is investing in the US by increasing the US content of their cars, i.e new engine and assemnbly plants.  Toyota's investment is good for the USA just not good for the UAW.

Very good post Andretti, you took every word out of my mouth. 8)

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