TOKYO May 19 Japanese car makers including
Toyota Motor Corp and Honda Motor Co are
collaborating to develop new technologies for internal
combustion engines, aiming to better compete against European
rivals, the companies said on Monday.
The eight manufacturers who also include Nissan Motor Co
are investing a total of about 500 million yen ($4.9
million), in addition to receiving a 500 million yen government
subsidy, to set up an internal combustion engine research
association, they said.
The combined 1 billion yen will fund the group, which also
includes universities, for the year to March 2015.
Echoing pooled research and business initiatives by other
Japanese companies in areas such as in semiconductors and
flat-panel displays, the car makers are teaming up to conduct
basic research to cut costs as they find themselves spread too
thinly over a wide range of technologies, said Keiji Ohtsu at
Honda's research and development (R&D) division.
"With gas-electric hybrid cars and fuel-cell vehicles being
introduced, the range of technologies that car makers must
develop are expanding, even though the number of researchers are
not," Ohtsu, appointed head of the Research Association of
Automotive Internal Combustion Engines (AICE), told reporters.
The car makers have learned from Europe's R&D methods, in
which companies work closely with one another and with
universities to save resources and costs - helping give birth to
popular technologies such as clean diesel, he said.
In France for example Renault and Peugeot
are working together with start-ups and universities
on early-stage projects in areas such as autonomous driving,
engine downsizing and alternative fuels, while in Germany a
research network consisting of car makers, engine and turbine
manufactures and auto parts suppliers conducts joint research.
"In terms of technologies, we don't think we are losing
against them. But in terms of the efficiency of how development
is being done, we are lagging behind," Ohtsu said at a news
AICE will focus on studying exhaust gas treatment from
diesel engines, with a focus on catalysts that help cut toxic
nitrogen oxides emissions and how to reduce soot, he said.
It is also aiming to boost the thermal efficiency of
internal combustion engines - or how well they convert the
burning of fuel into motive power - to 50 percent, he said,
against a current rate of around 39 percent for gasoline engines
and a little over 40 percent for diesel.
The automakers will use the findings from the research to
separately develop their own products over coming years.
($1 = 101.4600 Japanese Yen)
(Additional reporting by Gilles Guillaume in Paris; Editing by