Like a college student with a trust fund to burn, Toyota might finally be realizing the consequences of its more than decade-long “Prius party.”
The brand gathered hybrid fans like rock star does groupies but while it enjoyed that glory there were others studying up on how to squeeze more miles-per-gallon from pure gasoline engines. Hybrids still remain among the top picks for fuel efficiency but the market might finally be ready for its own “revenge of the nerds.”
Technology like turbocharging and direct injection are affording other automakers weight savings and vast efficiency improvements and Toyota is finally starting to take strides in that direction. Its family of Prius hybrids are still industry leaders, but the brand’s internal-combustion-only options sorely need an update.
“By 2015, through improvement in the engine and powertrain alone, we aim to achieve a fuel-efficiency improvement of 10 percent to 20 percent on the models adopting the improvements,” Takeshi Uchiyamada, Toyota’s outgoing product development chief, said to Automotive News.
Key elements in that plan include a 2.5-liter, direct direct injected Atkinson cycle engine coming in 2013 as well as a 2.0liter turbocharged powerplant for 2014. Further following industry trends, Toyota is also committing to CVTs in its small and midsize vehicles.
Despite that, it will also expand its hybrid line significantly with 21 new or redesigned hybrids on the way for 2015. At the same time, Toyota is backing away from EVs which bodes as badly as circling vultures.
[Source: Automotive News]