Toyota’s New Powertrain Could Lead To 58 MPG Prius

Toyota Motor Corp.’s new strategy will not only change the way the company builds engines; it will give the Prius’ hybrid drivetrain a 15-percent boost in fuel economy.

The Japanese carmaker said its next generation of engines will share more parts, get better gas mileage and have more power. Under the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA), both hybrid powertrains and gasoline-only systems will benefit.

The Prius will be the first to debut the newly designed hybrid powertrain under this strategy. Toyota didn’t confirm if the upcoming model will feature TNGA, but consumers could see a Prius with a 15-prercent increase in fuel economy as early as this fall.

In other words, the 2016 Prius could post up to 58.7 miles per gallon in the city (55 mpg on the highway and 57.5 combined). The 2015 Prius, which comes with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and continuously variable transmission, is currently rated at 50 mpg (51 city, 48 highway).

Toyota has not yet confirmed specs for the powertrain on the 2016 Prius, and hasn’t even released concept drawings of the design. Pictured above is the current 2015 model.

This boost in mpg exceeds recent estimates of a 10-percent gain in fuel economy for the next generation Prius, a goal that Toyota once called “crazy.”

SEE ALSO: What Can We Expect For The 2016 Prius?

“It’s very hard, hard work to keep continuous pace from first generation to current generation and fourth generation,” said Toyota Managing Officer Satoshi Ogiso during the 2013 Hybrid World Tour.

“10-percent is a crazy number, but we will continue our challenge.”

Gains for Toyota’s non-hybrid powertrains will be even higher.

“By improving thermal efficiency in engines and energy-relay efficiency in transmissions, Toyota has increased the overall fuel efficiency of its powertrains by approximately 25-percent and overall power output by more than 15-percent,” the company said.

After debuting in the Prius, the TNGA platform will be carried over to the Corolla, Lexus CT and other front-wheel drive cars later this year. The first three models (Prius, Corolla and Lexus CT) represent about half of the Toyota’s 10 million vehicles produced worldwide.

The overhaul on the engine architecture is part of a larger strategy to trim costs and increase performance in order to stay competitive against rivals such as Nissan Volkswagen.

Calling it an “intentional pause,” Toyota is holding off on new projects at production plants to focus on implementing the strategy. Instead, the carmaker will be revamping existing facilities to build the new TNGA platforms, with plans that will include installing equipment that is more compact and downsizing paint booths.