Toyota Claims Its New Combustion Engines Will Revolutionize the Industry

The Chief Technology Officer contends that the new engines are fundamentally different from existing internal combustion engines.

While some automakers promote EVs that are still years away from release, Toyota is doing the same with combustion engines. Long before their debut in production cars, the new four-cylinder ICEs were showcased as ongoing developments at the end of May. Now, the Japanese automaker’s Chief Technology Officer is shedding light on what’s to come.

In an interview with Automotive News, Hiroki Nakajima described the new 1.5- and 2.0-liter engines as potentially “game-changer solutions.” He emphasized that they will be “completely different” from current internal combustion engines.

Although hydrogen cars like the Mirai have not gained significant traction, Toyota asserts that the development work for this slow-selling model has provided valuable insights into engine heat efficiency.

Nakajima did not provide specifics about thermal efficiency, but Toyota reached 40 percent efficiency several years ago. In comparison, Nissan claims an even higher 50 percent efficiency with its e-Power technology, where the combustion engine acts as a generator to charge a battery rather than drive the wheels. Similarly, Mazda has adopted this approach with the rotary engine in the MX-30, a range-extending electric crossover.

Toyota’s CTO mentioned that the new engines will feature a shorter piston stroke, a challenging task to achieve. These smaller inline-fours are designed to “revolutionize vehicle packaging,” allowing for lower front ends that improve efficiency by optimizing airflow. The torque lost due to the shorter stroke will be compensated by the instant response of an electric motor. These engines are being developed primarily with hybrids in mind.

The first vehicles equipped with these new engines are expected to hit the streets around 2027. Toyota is designing these powertrains to run not only on fossil fuels but also on biofuel, hydrogen, and synthetic fuel. Nakajima suggests that this new engine family “has lots of room to play,” indicating there are many engineering innovations the company has yet to reveal.

In contrast, Nissan has taken a different approach, recently announcing it has ceased investment in ICE development. Nissan is fully committed to EVs, using range-extending gas engines as a transitional technology.

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  • Ian Sawyer

    Growing up with a father who was a mechanic I had an appreciation for cars and motorcycles from an early age. I shared my first bike with my brother that had little more than a 40cc engine but it opened up a world of excitement for me, I was hooked. As I grew older I progressed onto bigger bikes and...