Toyota Addresses Its Weak Link: Powertrains
Though Toyota (NYSE:TM) is a leader in many regards, one big shortfall in recent years has been the company’s lack of innovation in terms of powertrains, at least outside of its popular hybrid range. In terms of new offerings and innovations, Toyota has fallen somewhat behind is competition, but it hasn’t exactly been sitting and idling, either.
Over the next few years, Toyota is reportedly gearing up to unleash a torrent of new powertrain options, according to Koei Saga, a top powertrain research and development executive, Automotive News reports. Saga, who is the senior managing officer in charge of drivetrain R&D, told AN that Toyota is investing heavily in turbocharged engines, larger displacement Atkinson cycle engines, continuously variable and fixed-gear automatic transmissions, and new hybrid and fuel cell technologies.
Turbocharging has become the tool of choice for companies like Ford (NYSE:F) and large German brands, as it allows manufacturers to increase a unit’s power output without the need for larger displacement, and without great detriment to fuel efficiency. Toyota’s Lexus luxury line recently trademarked the NX 2.0T tag for a 2-liter turbo version of its upcoming Lexus compact crossover, but Saga said to Automotive News that turbocharging may not become a focal point across the product lines.
Instead, Saga is actually more of a proponent for ”upsizing” the displacement of the engines, and running them on the Atkinson cycle of fuel combustion, which is now used in Toyota’s hybrid system. Saga told the publication he believes that this approach will be more effective at improving fuel economy and power.