Section 1. Development of Diverse Vehicle Lineup and Expansion of Domestic Sales
Item 2. New Technologies and Expansion of R&D Bases
Development of LASRE engine
Toyota's technology and product development capability blossomed in the early-to-mid-1980s, having overcome the struggles of the 1970s when it faced new emission regulations and demand for lower fuel consumption. As of 1980, the engine types in vogue were the turbocharger-equipped models produced by Nissan, and Toyota had been slow out of the starting blocks in this field. However, the development of new engines incorporating the compact, lightweight, high performance and fuel efficient technology that the company had pursued from the late 1970s gained Toyota high acclaim for its technology related to double-overhead-cam engines.
To make engines compact and lightweight, each related component must be pushed to achieve the absolute limits of design. Accordingly, engineering teams comprehensively reviewed each individual component, reducing the weight of the moving parts such as camshafts, and making engine blocks slimmer. Reducing the weight of the engine lessened the burden on the car body, improved accelerator response, and increased fuel efficiency. The first in Toyota's new engine series was the six-cylinder 1G-EU (1,998 cc, 125 hp), fitted in the Cresta, a new model released in March 1980.
This was followed in July 1981 by the four-cylinder 1 S-U (1,832 cc, 100 hp), which was fitted in the redesigned Celica. This engine featured new anti-vibration measures using laser holography, as well as the latest production technology, such as sintered hollow camshafts and sinter forged connecting rods to reduce weight.
These new engines were collectively known as Light-weight Advanced Super Response Engines (LASRE), and showcased Toyota's drive for superior durability, low vibration, low noise, and a maintenance-free design, in addition to its ongoing goals of high performance, fuel efficiency, lightweight and compact design, and high responsiveness.
Toyota Motor Co., Ltd.'s PR Division and Toyota Motor Sales Co., Ltd.'s Sales Expansion Division created a plan to make Toyota's push into new technology known to the public. This marked the start of a promotional campaign under the catchphrase "It all began with the engine", which highlighted the LASRE engine to promote the release of the new Celica model. The campaign, which placed the engine at the forefront of its sales push, was unprecedented in the automotive industry, and gave a major boost to the public image of Toyota's technology.
The LASRE series continued with the development of several new models, including the four-valve-per-cylinder "LASREα1G Twincam 24" (1G-GEU, 1,988 cc, 160 hp) engine fitted in car models such as the Mark II, which was launched in August 1982.
Toyota was not solely focused on luxury cars, however, and used multivalve technology to deliver low-cost, high-output and high-fuel-economy engines for large-volume vehicle models, culminating in the release of a series of "high-mecha twin-cam" engines. This engine type employed an intermediate cog known as a scissor gear, using one camshaft to drive a second. The first engine to employ this design was the 3S-FE (1,998 cc, 120 hp), fitted in new Vista and Camry models released in August 1986.