toyota cars, crossovers, and trucks

What future Toyota cars and trucks will we see?

May 13, 2021. What about flying electric taxis? Toyota’s there. Updates for May 2021: electric cars.

Hydrogen

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Toyota’s decades of work on hydrogen fuel cell vehicles may be key to the company’s future success, as demands for zero-emissions cars meet up with wind turbines, solar power, and rural buyers. Battery-electrics are unlikely to ever be useful in long-haul trucking, ships, or rural vehicles; but hydrogen power can fill in the gaps. What's more, because wind turbines spend a good deal of time with their brakes on—because they are faster to spin up or down than traditional power sources—they may be tapped to generate hydrogen when the grid has enough power from other places.

A new fuel-cell-powered Mirai car is coming soon, because Toyota plans to use their hydrogen engineering for trucks, trains, ships, and power generation. Dual power stacks will run Class 8 trucks (the big semis, or tractor-trailer trucks) at two ports in California; in Japan, the company will test single power stacks in light duty trucks. Meanwhile, in Europe, Peugeot (Stellantis) has started developing cars where an area is set aside for either storage batteries or hydrogen fuel cells, allowing the rest of the car to be shared; this should slash development costs, a move that is unlikely to be ignored by Toyota.

Battery-electric and PHEV

Toyota is finally releasing battery-electric vehicles. They are targeting Europe first, because fuel prices remain high, emissions rules are tight, and people are moving on from diesel. Toyota has grown its market share in Europe by roughly one percentage point in the last year, due to the shift from diesels to hybrids.

The first of the new electrics will be similar in size and shape to the RAV4, and is due in late 2022. A new electric developed on the e-SUBARU Global Platform has been named Subaru Solterra; the Toyota concept was named bZ4X.

Toyota is also to release an updated Proace City small electric van (really a rebadged Stellantis/Peugeot) for next Fall. Toyota already the Lexus UX300e in Europe—a battery powered small crossover. e-TNGA is designed to range from small cars up to three-row crossovers, with rear, front, or all wheel drive, and batteries from 50 to 100 kWh. The overall goal is having ten zero-emissions vehicles for sale in Europe by 2025 (some created with Subaru, and six based on Toyota’s e-TNGA).

Starting around 2025, Toyota plans to use a new solid state battery, which has different chemistry from existing car batteries; it is said to be lighter and faster to charge (it may have more space between layers, which would avoid rupturing).

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Lexus’ planned high-performance V8 might be shelved because it could not hit performance goals. Indeed, Toyota may stop all V8 development, despite the Tundra and Land Cruiser, replacing V8s with hybrid V6 setups. Ford has replaced truck V8s (though not entirely) with turbo-V6 engines; Toyota could carve a similar path using hybrid-V6 combinations.

2019 Toyota RAV4

The Toyota Tundra’s 2022 redesign will probably be quite comprehensive, to leapfrog the aged truck for last place to first place in large American pickups for a while. It’s languished for years with the same engines and body. The next generation should include a strong hybrid version—not a “barely hybrid” Ram 1500 setup, but something more worthy of Toyota.

A new Tundra V8 may, though, already be ready; in which case “no more V8s” applies to future generations, not the one that’s nearly here.

If rumors of a 400+ horsepower V6+hybrid setup for the Tundra are true, there’s probably no need for a V8 anyway, except for the kind of traditional pickup buyers who opt for American brands anyway. The base Tundra will likely be a regular V6, with the usual 300 horsepower. Toyota could also, in theory, do both an economy hybrid (higher gas mileage) and a power hybrid (to hit that 400 figure). Remember, the Ram 1500’s V8 doesn’t quite reach 400 hp (unless, of course, you get the TRX).

The new Sequoia is being codeveloped with the Tundra, and the Land Cruiser will join it around a year after the Sequoia. The Land Cruiser doesn’t sell well enough to justify its own body, and the Jeep Wagoneer showed the solution for that back in 1963, and again this year. The original Wagoneer was launched at nearly the same time as a new Jeep Gladiator full-size pickup—no relation to the current Wrangler-based Gladiator. Confused? Buy the book.

Toyota, like most other automakers, is trying to move cars onto common platforms dimensions and architectures; the Corolla, Camry, RAV4, Highlander, Avalon, and future Yaris moved onto a single new platform/architecture. These newer versions have more invested in the suspension and chassis; years of cost-cutting are being reversed. The new C-HR subcompact coupe crossover is on the same chassis and to be updated soon.

A formerly huge seller, the Toyota Sienna minivan — America’s most reliable minivan for many years, easily beating the Honda Odyssey — has been moved onto TNGA as a 2021 model, and was made hybrid-only. For 2020, the old Sienna was the #4 selling minivan in America, with roughly half the sales of the Pacifica.

The Lexus UX is a subcompact TNGA crossover. The Yaris sedan, a Mazda2 with Toyota labels (formerly called “Scion iA”), is being dropped.

Toyota worked with Subaru, which is partly owns, on a sports car, the Toyota 86 (formerly called Scion FR-S, and also sold as Subaru BRZ) — the name being old slang for getting rid of something (hence also Maxwell Smart’s code number). There’s another joint venture based sports car coming — the next-gen Toyota Supra, which is mainly a BMW. A four cylinder and six cylinder are anticipated; the race version, likely not sharing parts with the production version, has already been shown.

toyota supra (with BMW)

In 2009, nearly ten years ago, Akio Toyoda took control of Toyota as President and almost immediately dropped his predecessor’s plan to boost global market share, instead changing Toyota’s priorities to focus on high-quality, affordable cars. Akio Toyoda said that rapid growth had strained Toyota’s resources. Today, Toyota is, like other automakers, pushing resources into the increasingly-popular crossovers; but it has not stopped supporting cars, either.

At Lexus, the IS and GS may be dropped, and the ES may be extended with all wheel drive and a power boost to take up where the GS left off. A new three-row Lexus crossover is likely, and the company is looking into other crossover niches. The new ES gained a power boost and an additional two forward gears in the transmission, and moved to the capable new TNGA platform/architecture. A new F Sport package is expected to account for nearly a quarter of new Lexus ES sales.

Stay tuned for updates to this page.

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