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Toyota eyes turbos, direct injection

Mon, 22 Nov 2010

Toyota Motor Corp. plans to introduce 11 new or redesigned hybrid vehicles by 2012, but the carmaker is hardly neglecting the humble internal combustion engine.

Takeshi Uchiyamada, executive vice president in charge of r&d, also wants to increase the fleet's fuel efficiency by putting turbochargers and direct fuel injection in smaller vehicles. "In the next five years, the general trend is downsizing of engines and the use of turbochargers," Uchiyamada said in an interview. "Another development will be direct fuel injection."

Turbos and direct fuel injection will be added throughout Toyota's lineup--even in four-cylinder engines and models such as the Corolla and Camry, he said.

"Eventually, we will see significant numbers of vehicles carrying engines with turbochargers," said Uchiyamada, 64, who was chief engineer of the first-generation Prius.

Other changes will include expanded use of idle-stop technology, which saves fuel by turning off the engine when the car comes to a standstill, and advances in variable valve systems.

Toyota will need the new technologies to stay ahead of sharper competition from rivals such as South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co., which is trying to become a green car leader.

Of the 11 upcoming hybrids, four will be model changes of existing hybrids. The other seven will be new models, either stand-alone hybrids or hybrid versions of vehicles that previously didn't have a gasoline-electric option, Uchiyamada said.

He expects Toyota's annual hybrid sales to hit 1 million units by 2015. In 2009, Toyota sold approximately 530,000 hybrids worldwide.

But in the United States, he predicted, hybrids will still only account for between 10 percent and 20 percent of Toyota's sales by 2020.

By Hans Greimel- Automotive News