Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive is already one of the most advanced gasoline-electric powertrains on the planet, but the Japanese automaker is looking to squeeze even more technology into its high-efficiency vehicles, with the use of silicon carbide (SiC) power semiconductors that were developed in collaboration by Toyota, Denso and Toyota Central R&D Labs.
According to Toyota, the semiconductors used in today’s hybrids and electric vehicles have more electrical resistance than SiC semiconductors, accounting for an electric energy loss of around 20 percent, so switching to the more-efficient SiC semiconductors should result in improved performance from the electric drive components. To find out exactly what kind of improvement that would be, Toyota will begin a year-long test (starting this month in Japan) of a Toyota Camry Hybrid prototype that utilizes a power control unit (PCU) equipped with these new semiconductors.
While Toyota has not revealed when it plans to start using them in production vehicles, it doesn’t seem like it will be ready in time for use in the next-gen Toyota Prius expected to debut later this year.
Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Toyota Camry Hybrid SiC Prototype.
The partnership between Toyota and BMW has been reported ad nauseam in the past few months but both companies have remained tight lipped on what kind of collaboration its going to be.
But that’s not the case anymore after a high-ranking BMW exec essentially confirmed and described the collaboration between the two brands. Speaking to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, BMW development chief Dr. Herbert Diess essentially laid out all the cards on the table, detailing what a lot of us have suspected for a while now before throwing out a caveat that gave us a clearer picture of what we can expect with this partnership.
"We have agreed on a joint architecture for a sports car," Diess said, before adding that "there will be two different vehicles that are authentic to the two brands."
So...the Toyota-BMW technological dance will give way to at least two models, one carrying a Toyota badge and one carrying a BMW badge. That’s cool and all, but with that piece of information all but confirmed, the onus now turns on exactly what kind of models these vehicles are going to be under their respective brands.
Could it be that we’re in store for a successor to the Lexus LF-A or the long-awaited return of the Supra? On the flip side, maybe a new BMW sports car that will be a class above the Z4, or something along the lines of the new i8?
A lot of potential models are in play and its exciting that we’re going into 2014 with all this speculation on what kind of offspring the Toyota and BMW marriage is going to have.
Note: Photo is of the 2015 BMW i8
Click past the jump to read about a car that could be a nice representation of what Toyota and BMW are building towards, the 2015 BMW i8
So you may have never heard of QNX, but you likely interface with it on a daily basis, given you have a car with a computer-based infotainment system (Toyota Entune, BMW ConnectedDrive, GM’s OnStar, etc.). QNX is essentially to a car what Windows is to a PC – it allows the software and hardware to do their delicate exchange of ones and zeros to turn them into what you see on the screen.
QNX is actually in development of its second-generation operating system, which it has dubbed QNX CAR 2. This may sound like just another small and meaningless software changeover, but CAR 2 will include something that may revolutionize automotive infotainment systems – an HTML 5-based interface.
As it sits now, QNX builds the OS, but the manufacturer works the front end of its software in its own way, leaving the customer out of the equation. The HTML 5 interface will allow the manufacturer to set up the basic functions of the infotainment systems, but ultimately allow you to customize it as you see fit.
Additionally, the usage of HTML 5 will also help lower the gap between consumer electronics and automotive electronics, which currently have a 7- to 10-year gap between product cycles. Heck, your laptop is obsolete before you ever walk out of the store, yet some cars run the same cruddy infotainment systems they did in 2005.
Another huge relief that HTML 5 would bring to the automotive world would be the development of apps. As it stands now, cars are much like the iPhone – you have to buy licensed apps from the app store, which cost loads of money over time. With the introduction of HTML 5, you get the option of more open-source apps, like you do with an Android-based smartphone or tablet. No, we’re not trying to start a Mac vs. Android war; we’re just stating the obvious.
In turn, all of this should – theoretically – make bringing more advanced infotainment systems to the consumer at a lower price.
QNX expects to see CAR 2 start being used sometime in 2013 or 2014. We’ll keep an eye on this and bring you more information as it becomes available.
Check out the above video to see QNX CAR 2 in action, it’s pretty awesome.
We do our best to keep you in the loop when it comes to new and cool developments in the automotive world. One of the hottest topics going right now in the U.S. is automated driving. Though it is still several decades away from being a national reality, although some states are legalizing autonomous cars, we are still seeing some progress. The leader in this technology to date in the U.S. is the Google Prius, but other automakers - such as Cadillac and Ford - sniffing around the automated car sector.
In Japan, however, they are taking the bull by the horns and setting up an outline for national implementation of an autonomous driving system. According to a report from Tech-On, the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT) is starting to piece together how to make automated driving a reality in as little as eight years.
Starting immediately, the MLIT will start piecing together the problems related to automated driving and neatly package it in an interim report that is due for release in March of 2013. Some of the issues at hand have to include: driver attentiveness, driver override ability, handling of accidents, and infrastructure development.
The MLIT has already employed the help of Toyota, Nissan, Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (A.K.A. Subaru), Honda, and Mazda in this project. Heading up the entire team is Yasuo Asakura, a professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology.
For now, this is all just talk and we will see if anything ever comes of it. If this is actually a serious deal, it could drastically accelerate the timeframe that we in the industry have set for automated cars. We will keep a close eye on this situation and update you if any new details come up. Until then, enjoy your steering wheel, while you still can.
Our friends over at Autocar are reporting a nice tidbit of tech news on the new Toyota GT 86. According to GT 86 project engineer, Tetsuya Tada, Toyota is working on a black-box system for the GT 86 that will monitor all of the car’s main functions (i.e. braking, accelerating, stability, acceleration, speed, etc.).
In short, the black-box system is nothing new, but what Toyota plans to do with it is. Engineers are working on installing software on the black box that is compatible with the PlayStation 3. At the same time, Toyota is hard at work mapping out all of the major tracks and raceways around the world and uploading them into the black box. All the driver has to do is take the GT 86 to a mapped track on the black box and drive the hell out of his car.
Once the driver has finished his track day, just hook up the black box to a PlayStation 3 and upload the data. After all of the data is uploaded, the driver can compare his data from the track with other GT 86 drivers that have run on the same track, making for some friendly racing, without the risks of swapping paint. This system will also provide pointers for performing better at the track and maximizing the GT 86’s potential.
Seems like a pretty cool idea on paper, but the issue becomes the fact that some street racers may find a way to upload public streets, then you have GT 86 drivers driving like maniacs on busy roads trying to beat their buddy’s time around the block. We hope that the engineers find a way to block this possibility prior to releasing it, if it ever becomes a reality.
For those that snag up GT 86s before this system debuts can easily retro-fit it onto older GT 86 models.
There is no word on whether this system will be offered for the Scion FR-S or Subaru BRZ.
Toyota has announced that they have been able to cut costs on their fuel cell vehicles by about 50% since the mid 2000s and what this translates into is the first retail hydrogen model with a price tag of only $50,000. The costs were accomplished by limiting the amount of platinum used in the fuel cell vehicles and finding cheaper ways to produce the thin film used in the fuel cells and the carbon-fiber hydrogen fuel tanks.
Hydrogen vehicles have received much criticism due to their expense and this news may bring along some needed support for the advanced technology and, possibly, more funding. Hydrogen vehicles have had bouts of decreased funding due to the criticism and have fallen behind the funding for electric cars in the U.S.
Hit the jump for the full story.
We knew it was going to happen; we just didn’t realize it would happen so soon. With the launch of the new Apple iPad, Soundman Auto has decided to be the first to install one in their car. This video shows the first chapter in a series of videos that will follow the installation of the Apple iPad in a Toyota Corolla owned by Doug Bernards. The install will involve a McIntosh 6 channel amplifier MCC406M, and a special iPod dock which allows the digital signal to be pulled from the iPad and distributed to the Audison BitOne processor via optical output. We don’t exactly know how safe this will be considering the mounting numbers of car accidents due to electronic distraction. According to the National Safety Council, twenty-eight percent of traffic accidents occur when people talk on cell phones or send text messages while driving. We have to wonder how much this percentage will increase if people start installing iPads into their vehicles. Don’t get us wrong, it’s cool to see what these car fanatics will do next, but we just don’t think installing an iPad in a car is very smart especially if you will be installing it in a Corolla. A Corolla…really? Anyway, check out the video. These guys can do some nice, clean work. We definitely have to give credit where credit is due on that aspect.
Follow the jump to watch the video.
Take that GM. Toyota is one of the global leaders in the field of Automobiles. Their commitment to make fuel-efficient and clean engines has fetched them an award at the prestigious International Engine of the Year Awards this year.
But don’t assume it’s because of the Prius and veer away from the rest of this article. Toyota’s Polish-made, 1-litre three-cylinder 67bhp gasoline unit as found in the Toyota’s own Aygo, Yaris, Echo and Vitz and in the Citroën’s C1, Peugeot’s 107 and Subaru’s Justy came out successful but not without some tough competition.
In the sub-one litre category things couldn’t have been any better. The final contestants were Mitsubishi’s 84bhp 999cc three-cylinder turbo and Daimler’s 45bhp 799cc diesel unit, which is recognized as the world’s smallest direct injection diesel engine. Interestingly both those engines at present serve the Smart Fortwo city car.
But that didn’t bother our winner. The main reasons behind its success was its feather like weight, tipping the scales at 67 kg, it is no wonder this is the world’s lightest internal combustion engine.
The technology that goes into making such a light package isn’t rocket science. The use of a light weight material like aluminium to construct it helps achieve this feat. Aiding the cause futher is its extra-small cylinder bore-to-bore distance (wall thickness between bores is just 7mm), and the use of a light weight resin throttle body and fuel delivery pipe. The air intake system and engine cover is an integral piece, a design first for Toyota, a weight-saving initiative.
The panel was also impressed with its Variable Valve Timing system (VVT-i) technology, which holds responsibility for the smooth acceleration, a crucial factor that won this award for Toyota.
This engine is literally a fuel-sipper. 4L/100km on a combined cycle is as good as its gets, giving it another entry in the record books as one of the most fuel efficient engines in today’s cars. A figure of 109g/km of CO2 emissions speaks for itself and strengthens the point that this victory is a well deserved one.
Toyota announced that it has given its Pre-crash Safety System the ability to determine—as a world’s first1—whether a driver’s eyes are properly open. TMC expects this driver-monitoring breakthrough, along with the system’s current ability to determine the direction of the driver’s face, to play an important role in reducing collision-related damage.
Toyota has taken the extra step. Instead of just offering iPod integration on their new cars, Toyota has released a kit that allows retrofitting current Lexus and Toyota models with iPod integration.
The kit fits into the vehicle’s glove box and connects the iPod to the vehicle audio system. When the iPod is connected, the iPod functions can be controlled through the audio systems controls, including any steering wheel mounted controls. The audio unit’s display will show the iPod text (...)
The world’s first technology for automatically delivering differential map data to car navigation systems is developed by Toyota .
Toyota named this technology "Map on Demand" and will be made available to Japanese drivers as a new feature as a part of Toyota’s G-BOOK telematics service from the spring of 2007.
Developed with Aisin AW Co., Ltd., Zenrin Co., Ltd., Denso Corporation and Toyota Mapmaster Incorporated, Map on Demand delivers updated data on all Japanese expressways (...)