Toyota Sienna Honored at Massachusetts Institute of Technology

RAV4 Wins Previously Owned Vehicle Award at Technology Conference

Cambridge, Mass., May 26, 2015 – With up to 150 cubic feet of cargo space, the Toyota Sienna has plenty of room for storage. Which is good because it is acquiring a growing load of hardware – and awards can be bulky!

The 2015 Sienna took home the Best in Class Minivan Award at the fifth annual New England Motor Press Association (NEMPA) Technology Conference, organized by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and NEMPA.

Toyota’s award haul from the NEMPA conference includes the WheelsTV Previously Owned Vehicle Award for the 2006-2012 RAV4, which was chosen from a group of ten finalists. The RAV4, redesigned in 2013, has a history of providing owners the comfort that has long been associated with Toyota vehicles. It was one of the first small SUVs and remains a leader in the intensely competitive compact crossover segment.

This year’s conference focused on green vehicle technology and included a panel of experts who examined fuel economy, emissions reduction, and innovation in green vehicle technologies beyond tax rebates, mandates and the pressure of high oil and gas prices. Robert Wimmer, Director of Energy & Environmental Research at Toyota Manufacturing North America, shared details about Toyota’s hydrogen fuel cell technology.

The 2015 Sienna holds true to its “Swagger Wagon” credentials. A more stylish interior – including a more comfortable and entertaining cockpit area, functional usage of cargo space and intelligent infotainment system – makes everyone a VIP. The exterior is refreshed with a restyled front grille and updated headlights and taillights. The Sienna is the only minivan in its class to offer available All-Wheel Drive.

And with EPA-estimated 18/25 mpg (city/highway), the Sienna will get you where you need to go – maybe even before someone in the back seat says, “Are we there yet?”

Toyota R&D Breakthrough Sets Stage for More Efficient, Durable Fuel Cell Stacks

Toyota City, Japan, May 18, 2015—A breakthrough in the real-time observation of fuel cell catalyst degradation could lead to a new generation of more efficient and durable fuel cell stacks.

Toyota Motor Corporation and Japan Fine Ceramics Center (JFCC) have developed a new observation technique that allows researchers to monitor the behavior of nanometer-sized particles of platinum during chemical reactions in fuel cells, so that the processes leading to reduced catalytic reactivity can be observed.

Platinum is an essential catalyst for the electricity-producing chemical reactions occurring between oxygen and hydrogen in fuel cell stacks. Reduced reactivity is the result of “coarsening” of platinum nanoparticles—a process whereby the nanoparticles increase in size and decrease in surface area. Up until now, however, it has not been possible to observe the processes leading to coarsening, making it difficult to analyze the root causes.

The new observation method can enable discovery of the points on the carbon carrier where platinum coarsens, as well as level of voltage output during the coarsening process. The method can also help determine the different characteristics of various types of carrier materials. This all-aspect analysis can provide direction to R&D focused on improving the performance and durability of the platinum catalyst, and of the fuel cell stack.

Background of research activities

Fuel cells generate electricity through the chemical reaction of onboard hydrogen gas with airborne oxygen. More specifically, each individual cell generates electricity through the chemical reaction between each oxygen cathode and hydrogen anode, with water produced as a byproduct.

During the chemical reaction, hydrogen molecules are separated into electrons and hydrogen ions at the hydrogen anode, where the platinum catalyst strips away the electrons from the hydrogen molecule. The electrons travel to the oxygen cathode, generating electricity to power the motor. Meanwhile, the hydrogen ions cross a polymer membrane to reach the oxygen cathode, where water is produced as a byproduct of hydrogen ions and electrons being exposed to airborne oxygen. Platinum also functions as the catalyst for this reaction.

Platinum is essential for electricity generation in fuel cells, playing a vital role in increasing fuel cell electricity generation efficiency.

However, platinum is scarce and costly. Furthermore, as electricity is generated, platinum nanoparticles coarsen, thereby decreasing fuel cell output. In order to prevent coarsening and maintain catalytic performance, the behavior underlying the coarsening process must be identified. However, the minute scale of the platinum nanoparticles renders observation via conventional means difficult.

Features of the newly developed observation technique

The conventional method of platinum nanoparticle observation is a fixed-point comparison of pre-reaction platinum particles with post-reaction particles. Through this method, it was discovered that post-reaction platinum nanoparticles are coarser with reduced reactivity. But, the causes of this reduction can only be hypothesized due to the inability to observe the behavioral processes leading up to the coarsening.

In contrast, the new observation technique involves a new scaled-down observable sample that can simulate the exact environment and conditions occurring in fuel cells. This, in addition to a newly developed method of applying voltage to samples mounted inside a transmission electron microscope, allows the coarsening process to be observed in real-time at all stages as electricity is generated. A transmission electron microscope is a microscope capable of observation and analysis of atomic-sized (0.1 nm) materials.

The images below show the coarsening of platinum nanoparticles

  • The coarsening of platinum nanoparticles (0 sec.)
  • The coarsening of platinum nanoparticles (337 sec.)
  • The coarsening of platinum nanoparticles (620 sec.)

The dotted lines show the coarsening of platinum nanoparticles on top of a carbon carrier. The platinum particles have moved and joined together forming larger, coarser platinum nanoparticles.

Toyota and Mazda Team Up to Make Cars Better

Tokyo, Japan, May 13, 2015―Toyota Motor Corporation and Mazda Motor Corporation today entered an agreement to build a mutually beneficial long term partnership. By leveraging the resources of both companies to complement and enhance each other’s products and technologies, the partnership will result in more appealing cars that meet the diverse needs and tastes of customers all over the world.

A joint committee will now be set up to evaluate how best to utilize each company’s respective strengths. The committee will encourage broad and meaningful collaboration across a range of fields, including environmental and advanced safety technologies.

Marking the agreement, Toyota President Akio Toyoda said: “As evidenced by their SKYACTIV Technologies and KODO―Soul of Motion design, Mazda has proven that it always thinks of what is coming next for vehicles and technology, while still managing to stay true to its basic carmaking roots. In this way, Mazda very much practices what Toyota holds dear: making ever-better cars. I am delighted that our two companies can share the same vision and work together to make cars better. I can think of nothing more wonderful than showing the world―together―that the next 100 years of cars will be just as fun as the first.”

Representing Mazda, President and CEO Masamichi Kogai said: “Toyota is a company that has shown steadfast resolve in acting responsibly on global environmental issues and the future of manufacturing as a whole. I also have tremendous respect for Toyota’s dedication in its pursuit of ever-better cars through ongoing innovation. Furthermore, Mazda identifies with the way Toyota cherishes its roots and all of the communities it is involved in. It is no wonder they are held in great esteem in return. I hope that by working together to make cars better, we can raise the value of cars in the eyes of consumers while also enhancing the manufacturing capabilities of our home, Hiroshima, and all the communities we are involved in as well.”

Previous collaboration between Toyota and Mazda has included the licensing of Toyota’s hybrid technologies to Mazda and the production of compact cars for Toyota at Mazda’s plant in Mexico.

Toyota and Mazda recognize that there is considerable overlap between Mazda’s corporate philosophy of bringing joy to people through vehicles and Toyota’s commitment to making ever-better cars, as well as its dedication to company-wide structural reforms to realize true competiveness and sustainable growth. This latest agreement will go beyond the traditional framework of cooperation, aiming instead to create a whole new set of values for cars through wide-ranging medium to long term collaboration.