On the way to market this spring to Toyota dealers near you are two new efficient 2.0-liter engines that the Japanese automaker calls Dynamic Force Engines. The plan is to roll these engines out over the next five years in a new powertrain portfolio that will make its vehicles more fuel efficient and sportier to drive.
The engine wave starts with a cleaner, more powerful 2.0-liter that will be first showcased in the redesigned Auris hatchback making its debut at the Geneva auto show mid-March. For those unfamiliar with the Auris, it is the European and Japanese version of the Corolla iM that is sold in the U.S.
Toyota plans that all new engines and transmissions will power 80 percent of new Toyota vehicles by 2023. These new engines are anticipated to cut Toyota’s overall fleet emissions by 15 percent from the levels they were at in 2015.
Why two engines? One is set up for conventional use (regular cars), while the other is designated for hybrids. The feature that has car aficionados really paying attention is this little detail: the Dynamic Force Engines achieve a thermal efficiency of 40 and 41 percent, respectively. Some car experts are saying that the powertrain blueprint is a clear sign from Toyota that it sees potential for improving on their old-school internal combustion technology.
What exactly is thermal efficiency? Thermal efficiency is the amount of work/energy you get out of the process of combustion. Most modern engines on the market today function around a 25 to 35 percent range. This means that approximately 65 percent of combustion gets lost as heat. So a jump forward to an engine that has efficiency at the 40 and 41 percent rates is a good advancement in car efficiency technology.
Speeding up engine combustion involves forward-thinking like steeper angles for intake and exhaust valves, laser-finished pistons, laser-cut valve insets, and a combination of direct and port fuel injection.
Toyota says that compared to existing engines, these new engines will achieve increased torque at all engine speeds, from low to high rotations. Moreover, the company anticipates that the engines will comply with expected future exhaust regulations for every country.
The one thing experts and car enthusiasts are unsure of at this point is how the engines will do in an EPA test, but the going estimate is in the mid 40 mpg range.
Another feature of these engines is that they use a long stroke-to-bore ratio, more than 1.2:1, and high compression ratios. The cooling system water pump is electric motor-driven rather than standard engine-driven. The thermostat itself is electronically controlled, and all of these features combined help to curb energy loss from heat, and saving energy loss means better fuel efficiency. And when gas is so expensive these days that’s a feature most car owners can and will get behind.
The move is a good sign that Toyota has no plans to get rid of engines altogether even in the face of electric or fuel cell powertrains because word is that only about 10 percent of Toyota’s models will get rid of engines completely in favor of full electric or fuel cell powertrains.
So it seems that at this point the company’s move forward to the future is to focus, at the moment at least, on improving the gasoline power plant. Toyota believes that this evolution and advancement of engines and transmissions will reduce carbon dioxide emissions and contribute to a better environment.
Big makeover and overhaul on the way for Toyota
The new portfolio of engines and transmissions that are rolling out over the next few years is part of an even bigger makeover for Toyota. The automaker is launching one nameplate at a time what it calls its Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) modular vehicle platform, and this is globally targeted.
Toyota New Global Architecture will yield cars and trucks that are lighter and simpler to build and modify. Along with those newly designed vehicles, Toyota will introduce seventeen versions of nine new engines, as well as ten versions of four new transmissions, and ten versions of six hybrid systems all coming by 2021.
When measured up against the engine that it is replacing, the Dynamic Force Engine delivers 18 percent better fuel economy and 18 percent faster acceleration when combined with a CVT. When paired with a hybrid system, the engine gets 9 percent better fuel economy and 18 percent better speed off the line. These improvements are sure to please fans of Toyota and bring in new drivers as well to Toyota dealers across the country.
The engineers at Toyota were able to achieve the improvements through a few tweaks, one of them being increased fuel-air turbulence in the cylinders for a faster burn. They managed to do this by using laser cladding technology, which is normally kept for Formula One racing engines. The outcome is a valve seat with a widened valve angle, which Toyota thinks is a first for mass-production cars.
With transmissions, Toyota has attempted to tackle a common complaint about CVTs. Pulley-and-belt-style CVTs make up a large portion of the company’s vehicle lineup because they are typically more fuel efficient than traditional automatic transmissions. Toyota’s solution to this problem was to put a single launch gear into its CVT to give the transmission immediate kick for improved low-end torque.
After ramping up to speed, the engine gear system flips to the belt-style function. By achieving a wider range of gear ratios, better feel and efficiency are achieved. Toyota says that fuel economy improves by 6 percent with this change compared to the CVTs on the market today. The innovation is being labelled a direct-shift CVT.
The company’s engine plans acknowledge how the market is rapidly shifting towards a preference for light trucks, a sales trend in the U.S. that the Japanese automaker has been slow to realize and process, and put to making changes, than their rivals. Toyota dealers across the country will have inventory with the new transmissions starting this spring.