We like the direction Toyota is starting to head in.
The auto industry is officially in the awkward stage where it is beginning a transition into a new more mature part of life. Some automakers, with the Germans and Ford being more notable examples, are shifting towards the power of the turbine in order to meet new fuel economy regulations while others, like Toyota and Mazda, are still a bit behind the curve. That doesn’t mean that Toyota isn't pouring millions of R & D money into new technologies though, especially as AutoGuide likes to point out.
As far back as May of 2015, the Japanese automaker began filing a patent application for a certain kind of bearing that can be used on a supercharger. By itself, the application’s text and complex engineering diagrams are a yawn, but the interesting part can be derived by the fact that the patent specifies the bearings as being optimized for an electrically-driven supercharger. At current, the bearings available to Toyota would have made the assembly of the device more difficult, but the new device attempts to remedy this. The patent mentions that, “a preloading spring combines both a function for preventing the creeping of the outer ring and a function for preloading the outer ring, which makes assembly work difficult.”
The patent elaborates on the fix, saying, “The present invention is made in order to solve this problem and is aimed at providing an electric supercharger wherein the assemblability of a bearing holding structure is improved.” What this means is that Toyota engineers are mulling over how to design the best electric supercharger possible, meaning we may soon see the application migrate to some of the automaker’s future vehicles. The very fact that the new LS is turbocharged and the upcoming Supra may get forced induction as well tell us the automaker is finally ready to modernize its engines, however with an electric supercharger, the technology is only bound to get more responsive and fuel efficient.
It’s unclear which car will be the first to get the electric supercharger but the patent was approved on March 22nd, 2017 and we can think of a few good candidates for the new technology. These include the upcoming Supra and the LC F if Lexus wises up and decides to actually build it. Keep your fingers crossed and your karma in check because Toyota’s gearhead glory days may just be coming back.