DETROIT — Every car company is striving towards a completely electric vehicle where we will not need any more gas to power it. Toyota has moved this dream one step closer to reality due to their action plan.
Toyota said that it intends to cut the average emissions from its vehicles by 90% from 2010 to 2050. That means conventional gasoline-only vehicles will be a small minority of its products as hybrids and fuel cells will become mainstream powertrains.
“You may think 35 years is a long time,” Senior Managing Officer Kiyotaka Ise told reporters in Tokyo. “But for an automaker to envision all combustion engines as gone is pretty extraordinary.”
Separately, a non-partisan group seeking to reduce America’s dependence on oil formed an Autonomous Vehicle Task Force to promote battery-based self-driving vehicles and clear the regulatory path to their deployment.
Both events come in the wake of Volkswagen’s scandal over the use of a “defeat device” to fraudulently meet emission standards on its diesel engines. They also come before next month’s United National Climate Change Conference in Paris.
Low gas prices in the U.S. have causes sales of gasoline-electric hybrids to fall 17% this year through September, but the U.S. has committed to cut its 2005 greenhouse gas emissions up to 28% by 2023. China has pledged to nearly double the portion of its energy mix generated from non-fossil fuels by 2030.
Toyota Motor Corp. is getting closer to autonomous cars. The company will begin to release a range of advanced active-safety systems to the masses next year.
The new or re-engineered technologies, unveiled Wednesday in Tokyo, encompass more sophisticated precrash braking packages, a better auto-parking feature, a next-generation auto-adjust headlamp and a vehicle-to-infrastructure and vehicle-to-vehicle communication system.
Toyota will begin rolling out the technologies in early 2015, Chief Safety Technology Officer Moritaka Yoshida said.
Initial products, such as the auto-parking and vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems, will debut in Japan and later migrate to other markets, including the U.S. Others, including two precrash auto-braking packages, will be released in the U.S. as early as next year.
Toyota did not disclose pricing for the new systems, but the goal is to introduce affordable advanced safety technologies that can be deployed in mass-volume nameplates, Yoshida said.
Toyota is introducing the technologies in a push to burnish its safety credentials as automakers seek to differentiate themselves from rivals. The systems are also basic building-block technologies that will underpin future autonomous cars.
Yoshida said automakers have reached a point of diminishing returns from improvements in passive systems such as stronger body frames and seat belts. Faster gains will come from technologies that prevent crashes, he said.
“There is a limit to reducing the number of fatalities through passive safety,” he said. “We must also focus on active safety.”
The Mirai is the name that Toyota selected for t it’s upcoming fuel cell vehicle (FCV). The Japanese automaker has also announced that it is building a network of hydrogen stations in the US Northeast to support the new vehicle.
The $69,000 vehicle is due to arrive in the US in 2016. Toyota proclaimes that “the future has arrived,” (Mirai means “future” in Japanese) which may make the thousands of people who’ve owned a Honda FCX Clarity FCV since 2005 gag. But despite being late to the game, Toyota is now making a huge bet on FCVs. It has teamed with Air Liquide to build 12 hydrogen stations in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. The stations will be “strategically placed” so that drivers of the 300-mile-range Mirai can tool around the region without (much) anxiety. Previously, Toyota said that 19 hydrogen stations would be installed in California.
Toyota has unveiled its concept car, Urban Utility (or U^2). It offers a look into the future of technology for the next generation of automobiles and consumers.
The U^2, or Urban Utility, has a box-shaped exterior with a customizable interior that features a sleek design, removable front seat, an intuitive shifter and a spot to mount a tablet in place of a radio.
The vehicle, “inspired by a growing innovative spirit in urban areas,” was created by the automaker’s Calty Design Research Team, according to a news release. Toyota operates a truck plant in San Antonio that directly employees nearly 3,000 people.
“Vehicle elements reflect the lifestyle and needs of an entrepreneurial, urban driver,” the release reads.
Technology magazine Wired’s take on that phrase: “In other words, it’s made for millennials, the startup-crazy city dwellers who just aren’t buying cars the way their predecessors did.”