Toyota, Mazda, Subaru commit to next-generation ICE development, multi-pathways to carbon neutrality

Toyota, Mazda, Subaru commit to next-generation ICE development, multi-pathways to carbon neutrality

All in on EVs, ICE is dead. Legacy carmakers who believed in that and went all in on electric might not be so confident now, and some have even made U-turns, as demand for EVs aren’t catching up with the supply. Meanwhile, someone must be looking pretty smug in his corner, probably muttering ‘I told you so’ in Japanese.

Toyota is once again striking the same tone, but is now joined with Subaru and Mazda. The three carmakers have each committed to developing new internal combustion engines tailored to electrification and the pursuit of carbon neutrality.

“With these engines, each company will aim to optimise integration with motors, batteries and other electric drive units. While transforming vehicle packaging with more compact engines, these efforts will also decarbonise ICEs by making them compatible with various carbon-neutral (CN) fuels,” the companies said. The opposite of fossil fuel, CN fuels include e-fuel (synthetic fuel), biofuels and liquid hydrogen.

Toyota, Mazda, Subaru commit to next-generation ICE development, multi-pathways to carbon neutrality

Toyota is a long-time believer of hydrogen as the future of driving

“Subaru, Toyota, and Mazda have always been driven by a deep understanding of their customers’ diverse lifestyles. This understanding has led the three companies to develop signature engines that not only represent their respective brands but also cater to their customers’ unique needs and preferences,” they added. Car guys, continue reading, because there’s good news for you.

The press release mentioned ‘carbon as the enemy’ and ‘efforts to ensure a future for the supply chains and jobs that underpin engines’. These points have been stressed before by former Toyota president/CEO, Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) ex-chairman and lifelong petrolhead Akio Toyoda, which you can read in full here.

Also mentioned are the broadening of powertrain and fuel options such as liquid hydrogen and CN fuels, tested under the extreme conditions of racing. Have you heard of a hydrogen combustion engine? We’re not talking about fuel cell EVs, but ICE adapted to use hydrogen as fuel – check out this Toyota GR Yaris that doesn’t use petrol, driven by Rowan Atkinson a.k.a. Mr Bean.

Toyota, Mazda, Subaru commit to next-generation ICE development, multi-pathways to carbon neutrality

This Toyota GR Yaris rally car’s combustion engine has been adapted to burn hydrogen

“With the next generation of engines, the three companies will seek to not only improve standalone engine performance but also optimise their integration with electric drive units, harnessing the advantages of each,” the release said, hinting at hybrids without mentioning the H word. Toyota, maker of the Prius, is of course the king of hybrids.

The next point will get car enthusiasts nodding. The companies say that the new engines will ‘revolutionise vehicle packaging’ by being more compact than existing units. Smaller engines will allow for lower hoods, improving design possibilities and aerodynamic performance while contributing to better fuel efficiency. Sounds perfect for a sports car, doesn’t it? Of course, compliance with increasingly strict emissions regulations is also a target.

What brings out the best in us? Competition. “In order to provide our customers with diverse options to achieve carbon neutrality, it is necessary to take on the challenge of evolving engines that are in tune with the energy environment of the future. The three companies, which share the same aspirations, will refine engine technologies through friendly competition,” said Koji Sato, current president and CEO of Toyota.

Toyota, Mazda, Subaru commit to next-generation ICE development, multi-pathways to carbon neutrality

If the ultimate goal is carbon neutrality, Japan feels that it has done well without EVs

Remember the ‘signature engines’ part mentioned earlier? Boxer engines are a Subaru trademark, and will be so for the foreseeable future.

“Achieving a carbon-neutral society is a challenge that must be undertaken by all of Japan’s industries and society as a whole. As we continue to refine electrification technology, we will also enhance our horizontally-opposed engines with an aim to use carbon-neutral fuels in the future. Moving forward, the three companies sharing the same aspiration will continue to advance the pursuit of sustainable excellence in Japanese car manufacturing,” said Atsushi Osaki, Subaru’s president and CEO.

Mazda? Rotary, of course! “We will continue to offer customers exciting cars by honing internal combustion engines for the electrification era and expanding the multi-pathway possibilities for achieving carbon neutrality. Given the rotary engine’s compatibility with electrification and carbon-neutral fuels, Mazda will continue to develop the technology through co-creation and competition to ensure it can contribute broadly to society,” said Masahiro Moro, president and CEO of Mazda.

Toyota, Mazda, Subaru commit to next-generation ICE development, multi-pathways to carbon neutrality

So, we can expect ICE to live on – but working in conjunction with motors and batteries, as well as clean fuels – for the next decade at the very least. I see this Japanese ‘multi-pathway alliance’ to carbon neutrality (will more carmakers join the pact?) as a counter to the ‘all eggs in the EV basket’ approach to R&D taken by Western automakers post-Dieselgate.

Ironically, that approach – and public declarations of EV-only deadlines by bureaucrats – has handed the initiative and momentum to China, an EV threat that they completely didn’t see coming. As Chinese EVs gush into European ports, they definitely see it now and are trying to react via tariffs and legal means. Instead of knee-jerk protectionism, how about eating some humble pie and join the alternative movement?

That’s unlikely, of course, and it’s also undeniable that the Japanese have their own interests to protect, but if there are other routes to carbon neutrality, why are we all so fixed on EVs? What’s your view on this?

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Danny Tan

Danny Tan loves driving as much as he loves a certain herbal meat soup, and sweet engine music as much as drum beats. He has been in the auto industry since 2006, previously filling the pages of two motoring magazines before joining this website. Enjoys detailing the experience more than the technical details.



  • alldisc on May 29, 2024 at 1:37 pm

    Africa, South America, Russia, Eastern Europe, Middle East, South East Asia and Australia are not ready for EV, except for those 2 or 3% early adopters. Maybe even less than 1%..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 17
  • Who am i on May 29, 2024 at 1:47 pm

    it’s easy to understand this U-turn. Japanese car makers spent years and billions in R&D into ICE engines, components, transmission. ALL GOES OUT THE WINDOW when EV came along. So of course these old-school Japanese car makers want to stick with ICE.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 34 Thumb down 10
    • Green on May 29, 2024 at 3:33 pm

      Then please explain how other has higher CO2 emission,
      while Japan now achieved -23% CO2 Emission, compared to 2001.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 5
  • Abdul Ranjit on May 29, 2024 at 1:48 pm

    guess japanese car makers will be like all the japanese handphone makers. die. refuse to embrace change = death. Nokia learnt this.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 23
    • cukaboi on May 29, 2024 at 2:41 pm

      too adamant & too proud jepunis are failing in all sectors, e.g Sharp Electronics. Nokia is Poland by the way.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 8
    • Pro-Palestine on May 29, 2024 at 5:19 pm

      Japan will be like Kodak and Nokia. Game over soon

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 13
      • Sizuka beats Ah Lian on May 30, 2024 at 1:30 am

        Maybe in your dreams haha go watch your favourite hentai, you hypocrite commie

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 4
  • Rider Driver on May 29, 2024 at 1:53 pm

    Since 2021, I have predicted this. Full BEV transition is not feasible and the technology has not fully mature yet. BEV is not a one-solution for every countries in the world unless everyone has access to nuclear power to use renewable energy to charge these BEV’s sustainably. I am also surprise why Zafrul did not continue HEV transition in Malaysia back in 2012. Hybrid is the answer to reduce carbon footprint in Malaysia not BEV. If Malaysia still using coals and cokes for 90% of electric generation, then how are we going to achieve carbon neutrality? BEV is only a privilege of few while HEV/PHEV is a privilege of many.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 11
    • Rider Driver on May 29, 2024 at 2:25 pm

      40% of electric generation*

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0
    • Autodriver on May 29, 2024 at 5:17 pm

      I never think of hybrid because BEV technology is keeping evolving and eventually the solid state battery will dominant the market. Electric power not only sourced from coal, it can be from solar. People who stay landed house can consider to put solar panel to benefit their EV car charging as well as contra their household electric usage.

      Hybrid car need regular service like ICE car meanwhile 8 years time probaly need to change of battery. The cost of ownership is not cheap compare to BEV who basically maintenance free. When hybrid car need repair the cost is higher than ICE and EV due to its complicated system.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4
      • tkling on May 29, 2024 at 11:58 pm

        BEV having bigger battery to change, beside that, spend huge resources to mining, produce and dispose off at the end of life cycle. You calculate it.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1
      • Rider Driver on May 30, 2024 at 10:51 am

        Yes ICE/HEV vehicle has higher regular maintenance compared to BEV. However, you need to consider the infrastructure cost for BEV. 3 Phase conversion, home wall charger installation, solar panel installation and Idle Time to charge your vehicle on the go. Besides, Malaysia petrol price is relatively cheap compared to other countries hence its still feasible to spend some money on petrol.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2
  • kckfen on May 29, 2024 at 1:55 pm

    Honda mana?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0
  • Bob Mal on May 29, 2024 at 2:22 pm

    Guess one of this new 1.5L engine have close to 0.1% chance arriving at our door step since Toyota/Perodua still uses dated Toyota 1.5L engine decades ago even when the Dynamic Force Engine with 1.5L capacity is available since 2017 never made it to our shores so don’t expect for this as well.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2
    • Samer on May 29, 2024 at 3:05 pm

      the Aluminimum Dual-VVT-i 4cylinders that TYT’s developed,
      none of other brand’s 1.3L can match this 1.5L engine yet,
      it still means it is non-replaceable until 1.3L 4 cylinder can catch up to kill it.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4
      • it’s appreciable robustness is good for the modi gang, for some good affordable car enthusiast’ business, track racing fun too.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
    • You want state of the art? Are you willing to pay?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  • ThePolygon on May 29, 2024 at 3:19 pm

    Actually it all depends on the… initial price of the vehicle and it’s running cost.
    You can intro any type of engine you want, end of the day if it’s affordable, it’s gonna win. EV prices are slashing like mad, ICE needs to innovate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0
  • kckfen on May 29, 2024 at 4:00 pm

    While many talk about E fuel by VW group, many didnt know that actually Geely already got Methanol base Hybrid engine and already is use. This also green fuel or efuel.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1
    • Ramee on May 29, 2024 at 4:52 pm

      I just checked, the TYT also already has 100%ChemicalE-Fuel, 100%BioE-Fuel, and they already racing them.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1
  • Diam-ler on May 29, 2024 at 5:45 pm

    You guys cut and paste news only, do some analysis:
    1) Toyota, Subaru, and Mazda are focusing on improving internal combustion engines (ICE) alongside electrification. They believe cleaner burning engines using carbon-neutral fuels like hydrogen and biofuels can be part of the solution.
    2) Benefits of improved ICE: This approach could offer more consumer choice, maintain jobs in the traditional engine sector, and potentially create more compact and efficient car designs.
    3) Competition is seen as a positive: The three companies believe friendly competition will drive innovation in both engine technology and electrification.
    4) Criticism of the “all-EV” approach: The article argues that focusing solely on EVs might not be the best strategy, especially considering the current dominance of China’s EV industry.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0
  • talk big on May 29, 2024 at 9:21 pm

    all talk big…how many % of household can afford to own ev ?….can they afford/withstand the depreciation, maintenance(battery cost, charging cost, etc) and issues(if got) later ?…..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1
    • Don’t worry… My opinion, EV is just another hoax. Sales is start dropping, even some major brand already drop on new EV platform. Three issues are not yet solve rare raw material, scrap battery and safety. Recently, many EV stranded due to cold weather.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  • Sohai on May 30, 2024 at 8:04 am

    Just look at the picture. You trust a group of uncles to still shape the future? A future that they may no longer participate in?
    Please get some women and younger generations to participate in your strategy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3
  • DonkeyKong on May 30, 2024 at 9:56 am

    EV people are living in their bubble. Just drive from KK to Tenom via Keningau, or drive from Gerik to Kota Baru. Better yet just drive through the rough trails of Sabah to go from Sipitang to Mengalong. Or go to Philippines and drive from the outskirts of Makati to a neighboring city. Go to Finland and drive from one city to another. Or go to Australia and have a road trip from Perth to Alice Springs.

    If you don’t realize that only a tiny percentage of the world is a dense urban sprawl with infrastructure everywhere (that makes it easy to have EV infrastructure) while the majority of the world are roads (both good and bad) with sparse infrastructure all around, then it’s time to come out of your coconut shells and realize that EVs can’t solve the world’s problems because they’re not suitable for over 90% of the roads on planet Earth.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0
    • wake up DK on Jun 03, 2024 at 11:45 pm

      then, the obvious solution would be to upgrade the rural instrastrure.
      and secondly if calculated by land mass the urban area may be only small percentage, but if look at total population most people already live within in urban area.
      90% of use case, EV can be the ideal solution.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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