With the help of Suzuki, Daihatsu, and Subaru.
While the rest of the automotive industry readies itself for the impending electric era, Toyota's hesitancy to fully embrace EVs has left many analysts scratching their heads. Yes, the company has said it will introduce 16 new battery-powered vehicles in the coming years but, so far, rival automakers are steaming past. In the USA, for example, the company sells just the bZ4X, something which may become difficult as the brand slowly runs out of EV credits.
But as the Japanese giant has previously explained, it believes placing all its eggs in the electric basket is the wrong approach. Instead, Toyota has opted for a measured strategy and says it must provide its customers with a variety of options. This hasn't gone down well with environmental groups, who have accused the automaker of working against EVs.
Toyota is simply exploring different avenues, as evidenced by its latest announcement. Together with several partners, the brand has established the Research Association of Biomass Innovation for Next Generation Automobile Fuels.
Toyota will work with Daihatsu, Suzuki, Subaru, and Eneos to research and study next-generation bioethanol fuel production. "Hydrogen and synthetic fuels based on electricity from renewable energy sources, as well as bioethanol fuel able to reduce CO2 emissions through photosynthesis in plants, are promising options, and their effectiveness has been confirmed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)," notes Toyota.
However, the company explains it is also important to explore the issues surrounding the manufacturing process. Through this partnership, the research association hopes to not only achieve carbon neutrality but also delve into the use of biomass and the efficient production of biofuels for vehicles through "the optimized circulation of hydrogen, oxygen, and CO2 during production."
Part of the association's goal is to improve the tech behind producing second-generation bioethanol fuel. This includes designing and operating facilities to identify potential problems and streamline the process. The companies will also look into how oxygen (created as a byproduct of hydrogen production) can be used, among other things.
Elsewhere, researchers will investigate cultivation methods to secure the maximum amount of raw materials required for biofuels. "It will aim to improve the accuracy of crop yield production through soil composition surveys and other methods," reads the statement.
Toyota Research Institute's CEO Gill Pratt recently shared some thoughts about EVs. Pratt didn't mince his words, noting that, in his expert opinion, "BEVs aren't the right answer for the whole world right now." Toyota has placed a lot of hope in hydrogen technology and, aside from motorsport applications, the company is experimenting with the idea of a hydrogen-powered Corolla Cross.
The newly-formed research association is not alone in its pursuit to bring sustainable fuels to market. German sports carmaker Porsche is peddling its eFuel as the energy source of the future. In theory, these alternatives could be the savior of the combustion engine. As Porsche has demonstrated, it reduces emissions significantly but will still allow gearheads to enjoy their performance cars as they do now.