Toyota, Mazda and Subaru launch new hybrid internal combustion engines

Japan’s leading automakers Toyota, Mazda and Subaru have unveiled a new line of internal combustion engines (ICE). Presented during a joint event in Tokyo, the announcement comes in a context where the automotive market is inclining towards pure electric vehicles (EVs).

Toyota’s CEO Koji Sato emphasized the strategic role that these engines can play in the evolving EV landscape. These new engines are designed for use in hybrid vehicles, which pair traditional fuel engines with battery-powered motors. With a recent slowing in the demand for fully electric cars, hybrids have seen increased interest.

Toyota’s new engines, expected to enter production by the end of 2026, will be smaller (by 10-20%) and more efficient when used with batteries. These engines can run on traditional fuels such as petrol and diesel, as well as low-emission alternatives like hydrogen and e-fuels. This approach aligns with Toyota’s broader strategy to diversify its technological bets in the automotive sector.

Subaru and Mazda also showcased eco-friendly prototype engines at the event. Mazda highlighted its rotary engine adaptation for electric vehicles, while Subaru displayed its signature horizontally opposed engine.

Mazda, Subaru, and Toyota are also investing in carbon-neutral fuels such as e-fuels, biofuels, and liquid hydrogen to enhance engine development and support wider adoption. Masahiro Moro, President and CEO of Mazda Motor Corporation, emphasized the company’s dedication to offering exciting cars by refining ICEs for the electrification era. Mazda plans to continue developing its rotary engine, known for its compatibility with electrification and carbon-neutral fuels.

Masahiro Moro commented: “We will continue to offer customers exciting cars by honing internal combustion engines for the electrification era and expanding the multi-pathway possibilities for achieving carbon neutrality. Given the rotary engine’s compatibility with electrification and carbon-neutral fuels, Mazda will continue to develop the technology through co-creation and competition to ensure it can contribute broadly to society.”

Despite the growing market for electric vehicles and significant investments in EV technology, Toyota remains committed to hybrid technology, projecting that demand for BEVs will eventually plateau. Akio Toyoda, Toyota’s chairman, suggested that BEVs might only capture 30% of the global market, leaving ample space for hybrid models.

Talking about the collaboration of the three companies, he said: “In order to provide our customers with diverse options to achieve carbon neutrality, it is necessary to take on the challenge of evolving engines that are in tune with the energy environment of the future. The three companies, which share the same aspirations, will refine engine technologies through friendly competition.”

Toyota’s comprehensive strategy addresses the diverse energy supply scenarios and customer needs across different regions. The company also noted the substantial economic implications of a sudden shift to fully electric vehicles, especially in terms of the job market within Japan’s automotive supply chain, encompassing approximately 5.5 million jobs.

Overall, while there are a variety of approaches across the industry to achieving carbon neutrality, these three Japanese automakers continue to innovate within both hybrid and electric vehicle domains to meet future emissions standards and market demands.

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24 Jun, 2024