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Take this Powertrain and Use It, Toyota Hopes to Tell Other Automakers

2016 Toyota Prius Touring

It hasn’t given the plan a green light just yet, but Toyota is seriously considering letting other automakers tap into its engine, transmission and hybrid technology.

The automaker’s powertrain division chief has opened up on his desire to give rivals everything they need to offer customers a cutting-edge, fuel-efficient vehicle. Why should RD departments muss their hair when they could just buy off-the-shelf gear from Toyota?

Sergio, are you listening?

Speaking to Reuters, Toshiyuki Mizushima, president of Toyota’s powertrain division, claimed the move would benefit his company and its competition. The automaker plans to boost its hybrid technology development, and recently announced an extensive lineup of next-generation gasoline engines, hybrid systems and automatic transmissions. Offering the components would mean a new revenue stream for the automaker.

However, before it can hand over its technology for cash, Toyota first needs to change the way it does business. Simply, it needs to loosen the leash on its suppliers.

“Toyota suppliers produce a lot of technology which can only be used by Toyota,” said Mizushima. “We want to change that to a system where we develop technology with our suppliers at an earlier stage … so they can make that technology available to non-Toyota customers.”

Toyota sources most of its powertrain parts from group suppliers that tailor the components for its own vehicles. Less exclusivity would mean new customers for the suppliers. It would also mean Toyota could sell an entire powertrain, or just an engine or transmission, to other automakers.

For many car companies, the biggest draw would be Toyota’s hybrid systems. Strict emissions requirements have placed pressure on automakers to offer electrified models, even though designing a system from scratch eats up precious money and resources.

“Until now, we couldn’t sell the same inverter used in Toyota’s previous hybrid system to other customers because it wouldn’t fit the motor, or the voltage was different,” Yoshifumi Kato, executive director of engineering RD at Denso Corp, Toyota’s biggest supplier, told Reuters.

“We can avoid this issue if suppliers can sell the entire system.”

The cash Toyota and its suppliers gain from sales of its hybrid systems and drivetrain components would bolster RD funds, allowing further development of fuel-saving technologies.

[Image: Toyota]

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