The full sized Hybrid will be almost as light as some current and smaller midsize non-hybrid competitors!
Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG
- Sept. 9, 2012
2013 Toyota Avalon Hybrid – Pricing TBA and fuel economy figures of 40/39/40 mpgUS city/highway/combined. Add the aggressive trapezoidal lower grille and horizontal slats, a sedate character line and we may have a Toyota not just for your grandparents but maybe even for you
In a late week release, Toyota describes how their flagship sedan went on a diet to improve ride, handling, performance and out there fuel economy with the addition of their much vaunted Hybrid Synergy Drive system.
In other words, the manufacturer’s entire car lineup when equipped with HSD will easily meet the 2025 CAFÉ mpg targets today!
Toyota has most certainly provided fuel economy improvement in whatever vehicle they have installed HSD in and they are enhancing that level further with a more focus placed on weight reduction than ever before. The all-new upcoming 2013 Avalon and Avalon hybrid is just one of many recent examples the manufacturer has or is about to offer to the consumer.
Avalon Chief Engineer Randy Stephens and his development team at Toyota Technical Center (TTC) in Ann Arbor, MI worked toward making the Avalon lighter and more rigid to improve overall driving performance. As a result, the new 2013 Avalon is 110 lbs. lighter than the 2012 model, tipping the scales at 3,461 lbs. compared to 3,571 for the current product. When it arrives at dealerships later this year, the 2013 Avalon and will be the lightest-weight vehicle in the premium large-size segment.
Engineering for weight reduction requires examination of every aspect of car design, materials and construction to achieve ever shrinking weight targets and requires collaboration from vehicle design teams to isolate and address a variety of potential weight-loss areas during development. Following this process, the team was able to achieve significant mass reduction in several key areas including the body structure itself, seat structure and even wheel design.
Like all manufacturers, weight reduction is proving to be a significant challenge due to the weight penalty imposed by increased safety regs, ever increasing internal performance targets and new customer features.
Dave Katarzynski, Program Manager of Avalon Vehicle Development:
“We established two main mass targets early in development: lowest mass among competitors (mass vs. vehicle size) and reduction of one inertia weight class rank. Hundreds of mass reduction ideas were tracked throughout development and periodic reviews checked status.”
According to Toyota’s US Ride and Handling engineers, less mass requires less tire width to reach competitive cornering limits and the smaller width helps minimize drag losses to help enhance fuel economy.
Toyota decided on using a high performance polypropylene resin (more fluid) to decrease the general thickness of the front and rear bumpers which of course resulted in less mass.
On the chassis side, higher content of high-strength steel (HSS) in the pillars and rocker panels allowed lower mass yet maintained or improved crash worthiness.
Lessons learned from the 2012 Camry redesign
263 lbs. was removed from the larger midsize 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid (TCH) vs. the 2011 (3,680 lbs. for 2011 TCH vs. 3,417 lbs. for 2012 TCH). The all-new and larger 2013 Avalon Hybrid follows a similar path with the much larger Avalon Hybrid weighing less than the 2011 TCH by 87 lbs. (3,593 lbs. for 2013 Avalon compared to 3,680 lbs. for 2011 TCH).
Just like the 2013 Lexus ES300h on which the Avalon Hybrid is based, the 2013 Avalon hybrid offers a city/highway/combined rating of 40/39/40 mpgUS rating while the 2011 Camry Hybrid was EPA-rated at just 31/35/33 mpgUS.
This advance is due to both weight reduction and a vastly more efficient powertrain.
Tin Bui, Toyota Avalon fuel economy and road load development engineer:
“To improve fuel economy we focused on reducing resistance which lowers the engine's fuel consumption. One area we worked on is reducing the vehicle's weight. With reduced vehicle mass, there is less resistance to acceleration. Lower weight also reduces the vehicle's tire rolling resistance.”
Toyota is the most fuel efficient full-line manufacturer offering a vehicle lineup that includes the Prius family (Prius, Prius Plug-in, Prius v, and Prius c) boasting an average combined fuel economy rating of 48 mpgUS, higher than any North American competitors best single vehicle average.
With the advent of the 2103 Avalon, large sedan luxury buyers will have a choice of a very fuel efficient sedan breaking away from the poor fuel economy choices they are currently available. 40 mpg form a full sized sedan is not only breaking the mold, it smashes it and weight reduction has to be given credit for some of that advance.
Ad most know from our drives of the Sonata and Sonata Hybrid, anything approaching 105 cu. ft. of passenger volume is big. The Avalon promises to be larger yet and even more fuel efficient! There are only 5 sedans in all of North America that currently earn the title of “Class above Highway Cruiser
” and I can almost guarantee the 2013 Avalon Hybrid will be joining that elite rank very soon.
We are scheduled to drive this extremely fuel efficient full size beauty in NAPA Valley in late October.