Toyota is developing a new range of engines and transmissions that will slot into its new TNGA (Toyota Next Generation Architecture) platform, the company has confirmed.
From 2017 until 2021, Toyota plans to introduce 17 variations of nine engines, 10 versions of four transmissions, and 10 versions of six hybrid systems.
At today's announcement, though, the company has only revealed one engine, two transmissions, and three hybrid setups. These new components have been designed to complement the TNGA structure, which ensures that future cars have lower bonnet heights and lower centres of gravity.
According to Toyota, these new drivetrains will begin appearing when new models are released using the TNGA setup, "starting with the launch of a new-model vehicle in 2017".
The rollout will probably start with the next-generation Camry, which has been confirmed for an unveiling at the 2017 Detroit motor show in January. And, as spy photos reveal, a lower bonnet height is clear.
To be branded as Dynamic Force engines, Toyota's new engine family has "high-speed combustion technology and a variable control system".
The company claims that thanks to a reduction in energy loses from the movement of mechanical parts, as well as the exhaust and cooling system, the new motors have higher outputs and greater thermal efficiency than the engines they replace.
The only new engine revealed today is a direct-injection 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, hence our prediction that the Camry will be first model to feature a Dynamic Force motor.
Toyota says that the 2.5-litre mill has a thermal efficiency of 40 per cent when used in a non-hybrid setup, and 41 per cent when paired with electric motors and batteries. This, the automaker claims, makes it "one of the world's best" for thermal efficiency.
Also unveiled today were two new direct-shift automatic transmissions: an eight-speed for front-wheel drive cars, and a 10-speed for rear-wheel drive platforms (above).
With the new transmissions, Toyota has concentrated a lot of its effort in reducing energy loss, including smoother gear tooth surfaces, and optimised friction material for the clutch. There are also wider gears and a broader lock-up range.
The new units are lighter and more compact that the devices they will replace. The automaker boasts that the 10-speed transmission has "among the world's quickest" shift times, while also maintaining a smooth shift feel.
Toyota is also updating its mainstream THS II hybrid drivetrain to accept the new 2.5-litre engine. The THS II setup will also gain refinements from the fourth-generation Prius, which should see efficiency go up, while weight and size are reduced.
Joining the company's line-up in the next few years is a new Multi-stage THS II drivetrain incorporating the new 2.5-litre four-cylinder motor for rear-wheel drive applications (above).
The company's first Multi-stage Hybrid drivetrain was unveiled with the Lexus LC500h, and mates a 3.5-litre V6, with an electric motor, four-speed automatic transmission, and a lithium-ion battery pack.
A revised plug-in hybrid setup is also on the cards. The new drivetrain has a dual-mode drive system, which allows an electric motor that was previously employed exclusively as a generator to also power the wheels. A higher capacity lithium-ion battery pack will see the EV driving range increase to around 60 kilometres.
The Prius Prime plug-in hybrid, which was unveiled earlier this year, is capable of only 40km according to the US EPA.
Above: The next-generation North American Toyota Camry undergoing testing. (Full set of spy photos here.)
Stephen Coughlan, Toyota Australia's product public relations manager, says that it's a "little too early" to discuss when and where the new drivetrains will turn up. Once again, though, we suspect that the next-generation, fully imported Camry is a likely starting point.
The Japanese giant predicts that by 2021 "60 percent or more of vehicles sold annually in Japan, United States, Europe and China" will use the new TNGA-optimised engines, transmissions, and hybrid setups.
Vehicles that will presumably miss out on these new engines and transmissions include the company's kei car models in Japan, and utes, vans and SUVs that don't employ monocoque construction.
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