NEWS AND VIEWS
Land Rover’s iconic Defender and Nissan’s Y61 Patrol may be going the way of the dinosaur, but that won’t be the case with Toyota’s 70 Series, one of the few other remaining 4x4s with live axles front and rear.
That’s the word from Hiroki Nakajima, the deputy chief officer of Toyota’s product planning group and one of the company’s managing officers.
If that name sounds familiar it’s because Nakajima-san was the chief engineer responsible for the all-new eighthgeneration Hilux that was released in late 2015.
Nakajima-san admits that in a world where safety and emissions regulations are closing in on vehicles like the 70 Series, keeping this tough, old-school 4x4 in production does have its problems.
To this end, he sees a twopronged twopronged approach for the 70 and any possible placement.
The 70 as we know it now will most likely be relegated to developing countries where government-mandated safety and emissions regulations aren’t as strict, while a new or significantly revised model will be developed for countries like Australia, where government bureaucracy wields a bigger stick.
There has already been a split along these lines, given the current 4.5-litre V8 turbodiesel introduced in 2007 was initially only sold in Australia and was designed to meet Euro 4 emissions, while other countries retained the older six-cylinder diesel and petrol engines, a situation that still exists today.
As for a new 70, or a 70 replacement, for Australia and other more regulated markets, Nakajima-san says, “anything is on the table”.
More specifically he hinted that the twin-turbo V8 diesel currently in the 200 Series could be a possibility, given the current single-turbo engine has limitations due to the problems of the exhaust and inlet plumbing that are inherent with a 90-degree V8 engine fed by a single turbo. He also hinted that the highway gearing with the current five-speed manual isn’t ideal and will need to be addressed with a new manual gearbox and possibly an optional automatic gearbox.
Nakajima-san also confirmed that Toyota is also working on diesel-electric hybrid powertrains, but not necessarily for any future 70 Series-style vehicle.
Toyota, a world leader in the development of petrol-electric hybrids, has previously dismissed diesel-electric hybrids on the grounds that diesel soot and NOx emissions are at odds with the ‘green’ image that has always been a central theme of hybrid technology. Diesels, due to their high compression ratios, also have greater pumping losses than petrol engines, which reduce the energy recovery on engine over-run, upon which hybrids rely.
However, recent diesel engine developments, as evident in the Toyota’s new 2.8- litre diesel, have seen a move to significantly lower compression ratios that reduce not only pumping losses but also the NOx output.