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Toyota promises “fun” powertrain family

Power up: Toyota has foreshadowed a new family of improved petrol engines, starting with this 2.5-litre four-cylinder destined for the new-generation Camry.

2017 Camry likely to debut Toyota’s new engine and transmission line-up

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Toyota logo7 Dec 2016

By RON HAMMERTON

TOYOTA has revealed a new family of modular light-weight powertrains – including new hybrids and plug-in hybrids – that it says will power at least 60 per cent of its vehicles in its major markets by 2021 and cut carbon dioxide emissions by at least 15 per cent.

The line-up of nine compact engines and four new transmissions – including a 10-speeder – have been designed to fit with the Japanese giant’s Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) body structure to not only improve performance, especially torque, but also lower centre of gravity and cut weight.

Toyota promises the powertrains will change how Toyota cars drive, putting fun to the fore through a better spread of torque and 10 per cent more power, while cutting fuel consumption by 20 per cent.

The first engine to be revealed is a normally aspirated, direct-injection 2.5-litre petrol four cylinder that is expected to make its debut in the all-new Camry to be revealed at the Detroit motor show in January.

While many other manufacturers have chosen to downsize engines and adopt universal turbo-charging, Toyota has chosen to stick with natural induction on its “big four”, while making gains via a multitude of tweaks to improve thermal efficiency and increase the combustion burn rate.

In a global media release, Toyota claims the 2.5-litre engine boasts one of the world’s best thermal efficiencies, at 40 per cent in conventional petrol cars and 41 per cent in hybrids.

No power or torque figures have been released, but Toyota says the engine will develop “ample torque at all speeds”.

Toyota has announced it will also step up development of hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains by reorganising its hybrid research and development structure next year and increasing its workforce by 30 per cent by 2021.

Its plug-in hybrids will get new technologies such as a direct-drive electric motor and large-capacity lithium-ion battery that should allow a cruising range of 60km.

A new kind of continuously variable transmission (CVT) is also promised.

The second-generation hybrid system with the 2.5-litre engine has been developed for both front-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive cars, indicating it will be applied to Lexus models as well.

While Toyota says its goal is to reduce CO2 emissions by 90 per cent by 2050, it sees petrol engines as the cornerstone of its powertrain line-up for some time yet.

It is working on all forms of electrification, including fuel-cell vehicles (FCVs) and electric vehicles (EVs) in parallel with its conventional powertrain and hybrid efforts.

The new 2.5-litre engine can be expected to power both the standard petrol Camry and the Camry Hybrid when the new generation mid-sized sedan lands in Australia either in late 2017 or early 2018, after the closure of Toyota’s Australian Camry factory at Altona, Victoria.

This new vehicle is expected to be imported from either Thailand or Japan.

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