Life left in petrol engines
Toyota has given the combustion engine a stay of execution beyond the middle of the century.
Speaking to media during a presentation after the 2017 Tokyo motor show, the Japanese car maker’s head of research and development, Kiyotake Ise, outlined the company’s future powertrain plans, saying Toyota will hedge its bets across a wide variety of alternative fuel solutions including regular hybrids, plug-in hybrids, fuel cell vehicles and fully-electric cars.
However, in spite of major countries like the UK, France, India and China setting targets to ban the sale of cars with combustion engines between 2030 and 2040 and plenty of analysts predicting the death of petrol engines within the next decade, Ise projected the majority of vehicles sold by Toyota, one of the world’s largest car makers, in 2050 will still have a petrol-powered engine, albeit with some form of electric assistance.
‘‘By 2040, the simple gasoline engines or diesel engines are reduced to zero,’’ he said.
‘‘They may be still used in hybrids or plug-in hybrid vehicles. So gasoline and diesel engines will only be used in those type of vehicles.’’
Without outlining any detailed product plans, Ise indicated that Toyota will drastically increase its range of hybrid offerings in the next decade, while also building a larger presence of plug-ins beyond the Prius Prime and expand the availability of hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles, including the potential to sell the Mirai sedan in the future.
Presented in a slide as part of Ise’s presentation, Toyota predicts the majority of its cars in 2050 will be either conventional hybrid or plug-in hybrids - therefore utilising a combustion engine as part of its powertrain - with full electric and fuel cell vehicles making up less than half of its projected volume.
He qualified that by saying ‘‘I don’t think it will be just one thing and I don’t think every powertrain strategy will work for every market.
‘‘The customer and the market will choose. And that’s why we are developing a wide range of powertrain solutions.’’
Closer to now, Toyota Australia’s incoming Vice President of Sales and Operations, Sean Hanley, told Australian media at the tokyo show the local operation plans to introduce three new hybrid models within the next few years, taking its total petrol-electric range to eight vehicles by 2020.
While Hanley was reluctant to divulge any details of the new entrants, it is expected to be a trio of hybrid SUVs that include the C-HR, RAV4 and Kluger - all of which are currently offered with hybrid powertrains in overseas markets.
‘‘Every car in every segment has to play a role,’’ Hanley said.
‘‘We have to continually improve our hybrid mix over the next five to seven years. We need to take that up significantly in the future. And we want to increase that regardless of [sales]