Published on December 12th, 2016 | by Steve Hanley
Toyota Raises Its Game With “Direct And Smooth” Hybrid Powertrain
All of us here love electric cars, but car companies still build and sell millions upon millions of cars that run on fossil fuels, at least most of the time. Toyota now says it is going to turn its focus to electric cars, but in the meantime it is still working hard to make its conventional and hybrid cars more efficient with lower pollution levels.
Key to that objective is its “Direct & Smooth” powertrain program. Toyota claims the changes it plans will reduce total emissions from all the cars it builds by 15% in the year 2021. Most of the improvements will be incorporated into cars built on the company’s latest Toyota New Global Architecture platform. The company says its latest family of engines will feature technology that improves the speed of combustion, resulting in about a 20% increase in fuel economy.
The first of Toyota’s new family of internal combustion “Dynamic Force Engines” will be a 2.5 liter naturally aspirated, direct injection, inline four cylinder version. Toyota claims the new engine is one of the world’s most thermally efficient — 40% when used in gasoline powered models and 41% when paired with a hybrid system. That engine will debut in the Lexus NX and Toyota RV4 Hybrid.
Toyota also plans to update its hybrid powertrains, starting with the plug-in hybrid Prius Prime. That car will once again allow the electric motor to power the drive wheels directly in certain circumstances as well as being a generator to preserve battery power. A new CVT transmission that is smaller, lighter, and smoother is also part of that package. Battery size has been increased to give the Prius Prime an electric only range of at least 35 miles.
Transmissions have also received a great deal of attention. Toyota has designed two new torque converters that provide smoother acceleration. It also has come up with an 8 speed Direct Shift-8AT transmission for front wheel drive applications and a 10 speed Direct Shift-10AT transmission for rear wheel drive applications. Toyota claims the 10 speed unit has ultra-smooth gear changes that are among the world’s fastest. Toyota claims the new transmissions are more compact and lighter than comparative conventional transmissions.
All these improvements will result in a total of nine new engines, four new transmissions including a new kind of CVT, and 10 hybrid variants derived from six new hybrid systems. By 2021, Toyota expects the new drive technologies will be featured in at least 60% of all Toyota and Lexus vehicles sold in Japan, the United States, Europe, and China while reducing emissions by 15%.
Source: CarGuide Photo credit: Toyota