Toyota Develops TNGA-Based Powertrain Units
Does the announcement also include potential tidbits about the new Supra?by Jonathan Lopez, on
Toyota is an absolutely mammoth automaker, rivaling even Volkswagen in terms of total units sold annually. And that means any time Toyota makes a big company-wide move, the industry pays close attention. You may have heard about Toyota’s intention to move towards widespread use of the Toyota New Global Architecture, a modular auto architecture set to underpin everything from SUVs to the new Prius, with support for FWD, RWD, and AWD platforms. The idea is to consolidate and cut costs, streamlining mass production across the product portfolio. Several other automakers are following suit with similar plans, and now, Toyota has announced details on the powerplants it’ll stuff into those upcoming TNGA models.
Included in the exhaustive announcement is an outline for the automaker’s upcoming engines, transmissions, and hybrid systems. All-electrics are also mentioned briefly, but look to be introduced in the long-term. And if you read closely, you might even find a few hints about the new Toyota Supra, although it’s not mentioned directly.
TNGA was first used with the fourth-generation Prius, just released last year (check out our driving impression and review here. The platform promises performance upgrades like a lower center of gravity, a lighter curb weight, and a more compact fit. In fact, Toyota even says it starts by asking if a car is “fun to drive.” And since modular platforms will indeed save money, TNGA could lead to new sports cars. Like a new Supra, for example.
But unsurprisingly, the new powertrain units seem focused on lowering environmental impact, something that’s to be expected from the company that created the Prius.
With its new highly efficient engines and transmission units, Toyota hopes to cut total CO2 emissions by 15 percent across each of the major global markets in five years, all by itself. That’s a hugely ambitious for a single automaker, even one as big and influential as Toyota.
But what about the actual driving experience? Toyota says it focused its development team on creating something that’s “Direct & Smooth,” even going so far as saying the new powertrain units will “change how Toyota cars drive.”
The new TNGA powertrain units will see implementation starting in 2017.
Continue reading for the full story.
Why It Matters
So what do you think – is this all just PR mumbo jumbo? Perhaps. But perhaps not. After all, efficiency oriented technology like the continuously variable transmission, or CVT, has certainly altered the way every-day cars feel to drive, as have series hybrid powerplants. And of course, there’s the hybrid hypercars everyone knows and lusts after, like the Porsche 918, McLaren P1, and LaFerrari.
Perhaps there’s more to this than one might see at first glance.
TNGA says it combines fun and environmental benefits. We welcome a marriage like that, just so long as our rather lofty expectations for fun are actually met. Well, here are a few numbers to back Toyota’s claim – the automaker says the new powertrain units will make 10 percent more power, while returning 20 percent better fuel economy. “Combining the new powertrain units with the overall evolution of the vehicle body, including aerodynamics, weight reduction and others, can open the way to even greater power performance and fuel economy,” Toyota continues in its press release.
But lets look a little closer at what to expect, including potential hints about the new Supra.
”Dynamic Force Engines”
First up, Toyota has dubbed its new internal-combustion engine family as “Dynamic Force Engines,” which apparently includes a new 2.5-liter direct-injection inline four-cylinder. These units were reimagined from the ground up, and Toyota says further refinement will continue into the foreseeable future.
The “Dynamic Force Engines” include up to 41 percent thermal efficiency when outfitted with hybrid technology.
Features of the “Dynamic Force Engines” include variable control systems, “high-speed” combustion, new exhaust and cooling systems, and more effective moving parts, all of which contribute to an absolutely ludicrous thermal efficiency – up to 41 percent when outfitted with hybrid technology. That’s a huge step forward for internal-combustion tech, especially for consumer-based products.
Numbers like that should give hope for fans of the dino juice. If developments like these continue into the future, the transition to all-electric will be so drawn out, the current generation of drivers probably won’t even notice it.
To help send the more efficient power to the ground with equal levels of efficiency, Toyota is announcing a new generation of eight- and ten-speed automatic gearboxes. Dubbed Direct Shift-8AT and Direct Shift-10AT, these cog swappers are all about making sure every potential horsepower makes it onto the pavement, including less friction for the clutch and gear engagement. The transmissions are also supposedly lighter and more compact, with a lower center of gravity as well.
Dubbed Direct Shift-8AT and Direct Shift-10AT, these cog swappers are all about making sure every potential horsepower makes it onto the pavement, including less friction for the clutch and gear engagement.
The multitude of gears also helps to maximize all that work the engine is doing, and offer a more direct feel than a conventional CVT. Toyota even says the gear changes “create a rhythmical and comfortable sensation that is suitable for a premium RWD vehicle.”
Did someone say Supra?
Of course, the world’s biggest automaker is updating its hybrid systems, offering up the advanced Toyota Hybrid System II, or THS II. But here’s an interesting tidbit:
“Toyota has enhanced its hybrid system for 2.5-liter engines and developed a new, high-performance Multistage THS II for RWD vehicles.”
Of course, this could be a reference to some future Lexus model, but to me this screams Supra. The upcoming sports car is already tipped to have hybrid power, and an electrified 2.5-liter would fit the bill nicely.
Of course, this could be a reference to some future Lexus model, but to me, this screams Supra. The upcoming sports car is already tipped to have hybrid power, and an electrified 2.5-liter would fit the bill nicely.
Add in the low-end grunt of battery-powered torque, plus the low running costs of a hybrid, and things are certainly looking up for fans eager to see the return of Toyota’s famous performance nameplate. And although a hybrid would probably be pretty heavy, the fourth-gen Supra ended production as a larger, almost brutish GT-esque two-door, so I don’t think a little extra girth really matters, especially if it’s offset by a lighter TNGA platform.
Complementing this is a new lithium-ion battery, which supposedly ups all-electric range to at least 60 km (37.3 miles).
Toyota also mentions plug-in hybrids, outlining its new dual-mode drive system, which puts the electric motor in charge of the drive wheels, “resulting in powerful driving, even when in EV mode.” Complementing this is a new lithium-ion battery, which supposedly ups all-electric range to at least 60 km (37.3 miles).
Further hybrid development will include new electrification technologies, such as updated electric motors, battery packs, and power control units. These technologies will be used in Toyota’s hydrogen vehicle efforts (such as the Mirai), and to accelerate their advance, Toyota is adding to its hybrid technology development personnel by 30 percent over the next five years.
Toyota says it’s planning on releasing 17 different iterations of nine separate engine packages, which includes the 2.5-liter previously mentioned. It’s also gonna release 10 iterations of four different transmissions (both multi-geared units and one new CVT), plus 10 iterations of six different hybrid systems.
All of this new stuff is heading down the pipeline right now, with a complete rollout expected within the next five years. The goal is to get more than half of Toyota products (plus Lexus) outfitted with the new powertrain units by 2021.
Look for the first new model to carry the TNGA goodies to release early next year. Markets targeted include the U.S., Europe, China, and Japan.
In the really long-long-term, Toyota hopes to reduce new vehicle emissions by 90 percent by the year 2050.
That’s fine. But give us the Supra before then, okay?