Toyota today outlined ambitious plans for new hybrid vehicles, as well as more fuel-efficient gas and diesel engines. At the announcement in Japan, Toyota also revealed details on a new small electric car based on the Scion iQ.
The first stage of Toyota's efficiency plan is to launch 21 new or redesigned hybrids by 2015. The company expects to sell one million hybrid cars globally this year, and predicts that sales figure will remain stay through 2015. The company plans to juice sales of the Prius plug-in hybrid by offering it in more equipment levels, and launching a special device that lets homeowners draw power from the Prius to run home appliances during a power failure. That last feature will probably only be offered in Japan for now.
Starting in 2013, Toyota will launch hybrids with a new 2.5-liter gasoline engine that has been engineered for what Toyota claims is "the world's highest thermal efficiency." That means the engine produces more power and uses less fuel, while wasting less heat. A year later, Toyota will introduce a new 2.0-liter turbo-four gasoline engine based on the hybrid powertrain. Then in 2015, Toyota plans to launch a 1.4-liter turbodiesel engine that is clean enough to meet strict Euro 6 emissions standards.
The biggest news was that Toyota detailed the eQ, an all-electric subcompact. It's based on the Scion iQ (pictured) and will have a 63-hp electric motor and 12-kWh lithium-ion battery. Toyota says the eQ will have a top speed of 77 mph and a driving range of about 62 miles per charge. It will cost 3.6 million Yen, or about $46,150.
While Toyota had originally planned to roll-out a small electric car on a large scale, the company has since changed course. Automotive News reports that Toyota will launch only 100 copies of the eQ electric car in Japan and the U.S., while Toyota says the cars will go to "local governments and selected users." That's because Toyota doesn't think current electric cars meet most users' needs.
In its efficiency announcement, Toyota also said it will expand use of its eight-speed automatic transmission from the Lexus RX350 F-Sport to other models. The automaker also will expand use of its "Super CVT-i" transmission, which is lighter and more fuel-efficient than current Toyota CVTs, to other cars. The Super CVT-i launched on the Japanese-market Corolla. Toyota also is still working on hydrogen fuel cell technology, which should debut commercially in the FCV sedan by 2015. Finally, the company plans to test wireless electric-car charging systems in Toyota City, Japan, next year.
Sources: Toyota, Automotive News