As it stands now Toyota has already taken plenty of initiatives to reduce their footprint on the environment, from bringing the Mirai hydrogen car to market, to developing more efficient manufacturing methods. But Toyota wants to go further with an ambitious plan known as the “Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050”, which aims to reduce global average new-vehicle CO2 emissions by 90 per cent (as compared to their 2010 global average) and achieve zero CO2 emissions at all plants by 2050.
Cleaner and Better Cars
To achieve the plan’s target of reducing global average new-vehicle CO2 emissions by 90 per cent, Toyota plans to achieve it through developing new automotive technologies and encouraging their widespread use from the standpoint of further improving energy efficiency, and diversifying fuel sources.
Toyota has already taken steps to improve the average fuel efficiency of their new vehicles with their ambitious plan of introducing a new series of 14 engines that is said to achieve top-level thermal efficiency and deliver a fuel efficiency improvement of more than 10 per cent in the JC08 cycle over current models.
That being said, despite putting plenty of resources into the further development of hybrids, electric vehicles, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, Toyota forecasts that the bulk of vehicle sales will comprise of conventional internal combustion engines, with the share of hybrids and zero-emission vehicles expected to pick up and rise exponentially around or after 2020. For the time being, Toyota will continue improving the thermal efficiencies of internal combustion engines.
Moving forward Toyota would continue to add hybrid models in all categories on a global basis as part of their goal to achieve sales of 1.5 million hybrids annually and 15 million hybrids cumulatively by 2020. As of July 2015 the cumulative figure had exceeded 8 million, though by the rate at which Toyota has been selling their hybrid models, they would need to continue the trajectory of its growth rate in order to meet that lofty target.
Preparing the Hydrogen-based Society
Aside from traditional internal combustion engines, Toyota would also be playing a key role in kickstarting the hydrogen-based society. Toyota plans to sell over 30,000 fuel cell vehicles annually around or after 2020, this would be a ten-fold increase over their 2017 production volume of hydrogen vehicles. Aside from the Mirai passenger car, Toyota are also developing hydrogen-powered buses, forklifts, and household generators.
In their effort to foster a hydrogen infrastructure, Toyota has made 5,860 fuel cell patents freely available – with approximately 5,610 pertaining to the Mirai’s internals available until 2020 – and collaborating with other automakers to support the development of a hydrogen infrastructure. Toyota is also working with governments and infrastructure businesses around the world to promote the growth of a hydrogen infrastructure.
Toyota is using the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics and Paralympics as a goal to push the development of the hydrogen-based society, with plans to begin sales of fuel cell buses by early 2017 and prepare to sell over 100 fuel cell buses ahead of the big event, and sell at least 1,000 fuel-cell vehicles per month around or after 2020.
Making EVs more Efficient
Toyota is also pushing further advances related to electrified powertrains in order to develop next-generation models. Part of this push is the development of next-generation batteries such as solid-state batteries that is said to have a higher energy density, easier increase in voltage, and excellent high-temperature durability.
The Sakichi battery in Toyota's graph refers to a goal set by Sakichi Toyoda in 1925 for a battery that could achieve an energy density higher than that of petrol. Sakichi Toyoda was the inventor of Japan's first power loom, and father of Kiichiro Toyoda, the man who would eventually go on to form the Toyota Motor Corporation.
Toyota is also improving the operating efficiencies of their hybrid vehicles with the downsizing and improvement of their power control units (PCU). Focusing on the commercial application of silicon carbide power semiconductors which Toyota hopes would be able to improve fuel efficiency by 10 per cent and downsize the PCU by 80 per cent.
Working to Life Cycle Zero
Part of the “Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050” also includes completely eliminating all CO2 emissions from the vehicle lifestyle, which includes the manufacturing of the vehicle, materials, and parts. Though Toyota didn’t give any exact figures as to their targets, but they have outlined the steps they would take, which includes developing, designing, and using low-CO2 materials. Toyota also plans on widening the application of recycled bio-materials, designing vehicles that are easier to be disassembled to facilitate for more efficient recycling, and focusing on environment-conscious vehicle designs.
Moving on from vehicles, Toyota also aims to reduce the impact of manufacturing their vehicles in the first place, with an ultimate goal to bring down the CO2 emissions of their plant down to zero by 2050.
In reducing plant CO2 emissions, Toyota would be introducing low CO2 production technologies, from simplifying and shortening the production process, minimising and reducing energy consumption of moving parts, to recovering wasted energy in the production process.
Toyota believes that this target is achievable through the downsizing of casting equipment, while being able to boost volume of production by half, and reduce CO2 emissions by 40 per cent. Quicker machining tools, reduced number of equipment, and recovery of excess energy on the other hand is able to cut CO2 emission by half.
By applying daily Kaizen activities in their manufacturing processes, Toyota also aims to half their 2001 CO2 emissions per vehicle at a new plant level by 2020, and push it further to a 1/3 of that by 2030. Toyota believes they can achieve this through the elimination of unnecessary efforts and find new ways of implementing unpowered or low-thrust operations throughout the production process.
That being said, efficient manufacturing would only reduce a plant’s CO2 emissions so much, for that extra push to zero emissions manufacturing Toyota would have to implement the use of renewable energy as well as hydrogen-derived energy sources. By 2015, Toyota’s plants in Brazil are said to use locally-produced wind power, biomass, and hydro-electric power.
Aside from purchasing power from renewable energy operators, Toyota also plans on bringing up on-site renewable energy sources. Toyota is looking into applying their experience in fuel cell technology to develop hydrogen-based power generation for use in production, beginning with a pilot-project in the hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle production lines in 2020.
With Toyota being a global entity with production centres around the world, the company are aiming to spread their technology and methods to all new and existing plants worldwide.
Another environmental consideration in Toyota’s environmental challenge is improving wastewater management and minimising water consumption in the production process. This is achieved through the use of technologies that reduce industrial water consumption through rainwater use, improving water recycling rates in the manufacturing process, and recycling plant waste water.