At Toyota's biggest supplier, Denso Corp., engineers are developing new heat and cold storage systems to improve fuel economy.
The heat storage system is an onboard heat sink that saves wasted engine heat and then discharges it quickly to heat the engine's lubricating oil.
Warmer oil helps reduce friction loss when the engine starts from a cold stop, improving efficiency.
At the other end of the spectrum, Denso is developing cold storage systems that work in tandem with stop-start systems.
Stop-start systems shut down the engine to save gasoline when the car comes to a halt. But the downside is that the air conditioner's compressor shuts down at the same time.
Denso's fix is a fan that blows air over a cold sink in the air conditioner's evaporator and into the cabin. That keeps the cabin cool without the need for the engine to keep running.
Both technologies are key elements of Denso's fuel-saving product pipeline through 2025, research and development chief Yasushi Yamanaka said.
JTEKT Corp., the world's largest supplier of steering systems, also has big plans for Toyota, its top customer and shareholder.
It will develop steer-by-wire technology to work with autonomous driving systems, President Tetsuo Agata said.
Steer-by-wire, still a nascent technology but one that already has been used in such vehicles as the Infiniti Q50 sedan, breaks the mechanical link between the driver and the wheels.
Instead, it converts steering wheel movements into electronic signals that control electric motors to move the wheels.
“We are working with steer-by-wire because it is necessary and almost mandatory to achieve autonomous driving systems,” Agata said, though he declined to give a timeline.