While other Japanese industrial giants (like Honda and Yamaha) diversify into wide ranges of products, Toyota focuses primarily on cars. Hybrid cars especially. But it also makes boats. And now it’s working on combining the two.
The automaker is developing a version of its Ponam 28V motorboat with a parallel hybrid propulsion system. The nautical powertrain combines a 3.0-liter four-cylinder direct-injection diesel engine (marinized from the Land Cruiser Prado) rated at 256 horsepower with an electric motor good for another 48 hp.
Juiced by an 11-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, the system allows for pure electric propulsion when the diesel engine isn’t required, moving the 28-foot vessel around silently and without exhaust fumes.
Toyota is giving the experimental watercraft to the municipal government to use in the Port of Tokyo during the forthcoming Olympic games in 2020. It’ll also be used for canal tours as part of a feasibility study to take place from 2018 through 2021. If everything goes well, Toyota could be producing hybrid boats, just like it does hybrid cars, in the near future.
Not that the idea is that unusual, mind you. Many larger powerboats incorporate sideways-mounted electric motors alongside their primary diesel engines, but use the separate electric propellers mostly for maneuvering into port. Toyota’s system appears to take the idea one step (or stroke) further.