Report: Toyota Finally Adding Direct-Injected, Downsized Engines

Few may not think of Toyota as falling behind in fuel-efficient engines thanks to the company’s dominance in hybrid powertrains, but the Japanese automaker’s non-hybrid engine tech is now years behind its competition. As it continues to refresh its global portfolio, Toyota is hoping to roll out turbocharging, direct injection, and new transmissions to help eke more efficiency from its internal combustion engines.

According to Automotive News, Toyota will introduce a slew of revised engines and new transmissions over the next two years in order to catch up with its competition. Toyota has quickly become one of the few automakers not to take advantage of the efficiency gains of variable valve timing, direct injection, and turbocharging. Prominent examples include Ford’s leveraging of much of its lineup on a number of different downsized, turbocharged engines to replace large-displacement, naturally-aspirated powerplants, and Mazda’s Skyactiv suite of technologies that prominently features direct injection and variable valve timing. The trio of valve timing, direct injection, and forced induction has become so prevalent that we even named it our 2012 Technology of the Year.

Toyota is hoping to begin rolling out two new engines and two new transmissions starting next year. AN reports the first of which will be a new 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle I-4 with direct injection, slated to find its way into the brand’s hybrids. Coming in 2014 will be a 2.0-liter turbo-four, along with a new continuously variable transmission for small-to-midsize cars and six- or eight-speed transmissions for larger vehicles. Currently, only Toyota hybrids use a CVT and the Lexus LS and IS F are the only models in the company’s portfolio to use eight-speed automatics. It’s also been rumored that Toyota may introduce a CVT in the next-generation Corolla to replace the current car’s ancient four-speed auto.

According to our source close to the matter, Toyota originally planned on introducing a direct-injection V-6 in the 2013 Avalon, but delayed that to 2015 due to cost. Adding direct injection to current engines can tack on an extra $128 to the car’s bottom line, says AN. It was because of this added cost and an incremental increase in fuel economy that Toyota Motor North America previously passed on direct injection. The automaker has had direct injection-equipped engines on sale elsewhere since 2006, and only recently introduced the technology in the U.S. in the Lexus GS and LS and Scion FR-S.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)

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