Toyota's Hybrid Technology Faces Tough Competition

Choosing the world’s greatest powerplants is a task that falls to the increased International Engine of the Year Awards 2005 jury, which now includes 57 of the world’s most respected motoring journalists from 27 countries. The Awards, which are in their seventh year, have become a valuable marketing tool - Mazda, for example, heavily promoted its International Engine of the Year Awards success when it launched the RX-8 with its acclaimed rotary powerplant.

The big question in 2005 is can Toyota’s clean and frugal Prius hybrid hang on to its coveted International Engine of the Year Awards title? The Japanese green machine, which last year topped four of the 12 categories including taking the overall prize, is facing tough competition from almost 60 new engines that have come to market in the last 12 months.

It is a fact that the majority of the new contenders target speed, not environmental awareness - over a third of the new entries for 2005 are performance-orientated, while under a sixth of them are eligible for the Best Fuel Economy category. Indeed, some 23 contenders will debut in the above 3-litre categories, 14 of which are above 4-litres. At the other end of the scale, there are a mere eight new units to compete in the below 1.8-litre segments.

Of the big hitters, GM will have high hopes for its powerful 4.4-litre supercharged V8 as housed in the Cadillac STS V-spec, and Chrysler may well think its 6.1-litre Hemi is a worthy winner. BMW, the most successful brand in the Awards’ history, unquestionably has faith in its collection of new engines that include the M5’s 5-litre V10, the 4-litre V8 and the 3-litre in-line six, while Porsche will want its new range of 3.8-, 3.2- and 2.7-litre units to finally scoop the marque one of the sought after trophies. Perhaps Ferrari can take the honours with its new 4.3-litre…

But 2005 is not exclusively about raw pace: since the International Engine of the Year Awards 2004, Honda has introduced yet another hybrid hopeful. The company’s new 3-litre hybrid that powers the Accord boasts performance and improved fuel economy. Meanwhile, Toyota also has a new hybrid in the shape of the 3.3-litre/electric-engined Lexus RX400h - can it ensure the firm hangs on to the trophy?

The results of the International Engine of the Year Awards 2005 will be announced on 1 June 2005 at Engine Expo, the show dedicated to powertrain design, manufacture and advanced technology.

Published : 01/04/05 Author : Melanie Carter

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