Due to the global development of the industry and technology in the 20th century, increased production of vehicles and the growing population resulted in massive consumption of fossil fuels. Today we face three challenges regarding environmental and energy issues, which are finding an alternative energy source as opposed to oil, reducing CO2 emissions, and preventing air pollution.
Although the demand for oil alternatives, such as gas fuels, electricity, and hydrogen may grow, each alternative energy source has its disadvantages. Oil is currently the main source of automotive fuel, but further research and development of alternative energy in the future may bring change. Various powertrains, such as those found in Plug in Hybrid vehicles, electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles, will be required in order to use diversified types of fuels.
At Toyota, we will continue to develop various vehicles, along with our emphasis of conventional vehicles and hybrid vehicles as fundamental core technology while pursuing further advancement. Based on these core technologies, Toyota will develop next-generation vehicles utilizing alternative fuels such as gas fuel, electricity and hydrogen.
Electricity, hydrogen, biodiesel and natural gas are good alternatives for fossil fuel, but each source has their own disadvantages. The left figure shows compares the energy density of each alternative
Even with the latest lithium ion battery technology, only 1/50 of the energy required by gasoline is used. Although powering a motor with electricity is much more efficient than an internal combustion engine, liquid fuels such as gasoline are still advantageous because of their high volume in energy density. The figure below shows the difference in energy density between electricity and gasoline but does not
indicate correlation in cruising range.
The cost of batteries also poses a major challenge.
In an effort to attain the 2030 Innovative
Technology Plan issued by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, we have barely
reached the status to be at a competitive level with gasoline powered vehicles.
For more improvements in efficiency, Toyota proactively manages powertrain efficiency, reduces vehicle load, and controls energy management by integration of fuel-saving technologies such as charge control, idling stop etc..
Toyota has a long history of continuous improvement when it comes to conventional engines, including lean-burn gasoline engines, direct injection gasoline engines and common rail direct-injection diesel engines, as well as engines modified to use alternative fuels, such as compressed natural gas (CNG) or electricity (for Electric Vehicle). In December 2002, we launched limited sales of the Toyota FCHV, a Fuel Cell Vehicle that runs on high-pressure hydrogen.
Engineers may disagree about which fuel or car propulsion system is best, but they do agree that hybrid technology is the core for eco-car development. We develop these key technologies in-house to reduce costs and rapidly commercialize their application.