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Strategy for Environmental Technologies

Due to the global growth of industry and technology in the 20th century, along with increases in vehicle use and the world’s population, fossil fuel consumption has grown massively. Today we face three environmental and energy challenges: finding an alternative energy source to oil, reducing CO2 emissions and preventing air pollution.

The alternatives to oil

Oil is currently the main source of fuel for cars, but further research and development of alternative energies in the future may change that. Various powertrains, such as those found in plug-in hybrid vehicles, electric and fuel cell cars, will be required in order to use these diversified types of fuel. Although demand for alternatives to oil, such as gas fuels, electricity and hydrogen, continues to grow, each of these energy sources have their own disadvantages.

And although powering a motor with electricity is much more efficient than an internal combustion engine, liquid fuels such as gasoline are still at an advantage because of their energy density. Even with the latest lithium ion battery technology, it only produces one fiftieth of the energy produced by gasoline.

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.

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Hybrid at the core

As we continue to develop a wide variety of vehicles, our emphasis will remain on our conventional and hybrid. Using this technology at its heart, we will develop the next generation of our cars, using alternative fuels such as gas fuel, electricity and hydrogen.

To achieve more improvements in efficiency, we maximise powertrain gains by reducing vehicle load and controlling energy management through the use of fuel-saving technologies such as charge control and stop, start when stationary (see figure).

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Continuous improvement

We have a long history of continuously improving our conventional engines, from lean-burn and direct injection gasoline engines and common rail direct-injection diesel engines, through to engines that are modified to use alternative fuels, such as compressed natural gas (CNG) or electricity (for Electric Vehicle).

Engineers may debate about which fuel or car propulsion system is best, but they do agree that hybrid technology is at the core of our future motoring. We develop these key technologies in-house to reduce costs and to allow us to bring them to market as soon as possible.

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In December 2002, we launched in limited numbers the sale of the Toyota FCHV, a fuel cell vehicle that runs on high-pressure hydrogen, and in 2015 we plan the sale of a hydrogen-powered car based on the FCV concept, shown at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show.

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