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Future Thinking

Learn more about the ways we’re building a better world for our children.

“Leaving the world a better place for our children” is no idle slogan for Toyota. It’s the driving force that empowers us to innovate, collaborate, break down barriers and contribute towards a sustainable future. That’s why Toyota is carrying out actions to improve the environment and the world we live in, so our children will inherit a better world.

Read on to discover some of the future thinking projects that we’re proud to be working on. 

What does “greening” involve?

In addition to planting trees, Toyota Motor Corporation is applying its biotechnology and afforestation know-how through activities like “greening” our facilities. For example, the Tsutsumi (Japan) plant utilizes NOx absorbing grasses and rooftop turf developed by Toyota. The turf is a slow growing variety that needs mowing only once a year.

Does it offer any other advantages?

Tsutsumi’s reception and administration building is powered entirely by the energy generated by solar panels. The grassed areas act as a heat sink, reducing the cooling requirement of the building whilst also converting CO2 to oxygen. Inside, solar lighting and reflective tubes have replaced traditional fluorescent tubes.

What is gas absorbing paint?

The exterior of the assembly plant - an area of 88,000 square metres - is covered in photo-catalytic paint, which breaks down airborne nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulphur oxides (SOx). This has the same effect as planting 7300 trees because it cleans the air by producing oxygen in sunlight. The paint is also self-cleaning, repelling any accumulated dust and grit each time it rains.

What is biosynthetic rubber?

It’s rubber made from plants. Toyota is involved in a partnership making a biosynthetic rubber called biohydrin. It is manufactured using plant-derived bio-materials instead of epichlorohydrin, a commonly-used epoxy compound.

How is this better for society?

When compared to conventional petroleum-based hydrin rubber, biohydrin reduces life-cycle carbon emissions by about 20 percent, since plants naturally absorb CO2 from the atmosphere.

Where is it used?

In engine and drive system hoses. These components are subject to wear and tear from heat, oil, ozone, other fluids and atmospheric conditions. For this reason, they are commonly constructed of epichlorohydrin rubber, which has high corrosion resistance. Biohydrin rubber can be produced using a variety of compound technologies for bonding plant-derived materials with petroleum-derived materials at the molecular level.

These technologies ensure that biohydrin rubber provides the levels of oil resistance, heat resistance and durability required for vacuum sensing hoses in engines and drive systems. Additionally, biohydrin rubber is similar to conventional petroleum-based hydrin rubber in terms of quality and mass production possibility, enabling large-scale use in commercial vehicles.

Are there other plans for plants in cars?

Toyota plans to expand the use of biohydrin to other high-performance rubber components, such as brake hoses and fuel line hoses.

Going forward, Toyota will continue to develop and commercialise technologies that enable the use of materials like ecological plastic and biosynthetic rubber in a wider range of components.

Everything? What does this really mean?

Hydrogen is a promising and potentially highly beneficial fuel for the future. Most importantly, cars running on hydrogen are 100% free of CO2 emissions when driving. However, the production of hydrogen still has room for improvement. It’s not always fully CO2 emission free. Yet hydrogen has the potential to be produced from water, algae, biomass and food waste. Even waste products from cows can be used to make fuel for Toyota's hydrogen car.

Why is Toyota doing this?

For the hydrogen society to take off, many partners are needed: industries, universities, authorities, government bodies and car manufacturers. We all need to work hand in hand to put environmentally friendly cars running on hydrogen on the road.

Although Toyota itself is not actively involved in hydrogen production and installing stations, it is engaged in partnerships designed to encourage the further “greening” of hydrogen production to make the entire hydrogen supply chain as low carbon as possible.

Why do this?

We have been developing a hydrogen car for the last 20 years and we are convinced of its potential. We believe hydrogen as a fuel has great potential to eliminate carbon emissions and reduce dependence on the world’s shrinking supplies of oil-based fuels.
Hydrogen is all around us. In fact, it is the most common atom in the universe. However, it is always found tied to other elements, such as with oxygen in water (H2O). That means we have to find ways of isolating it to produce pure H2 hydrogen fuel.

What’s happening in Rwanda?

Through its engagement in a floriculture venture, Toyota is helping to provide a new source of agriculture in Rwanda, focusing on flowering plants with high profitability per unit area. One such plant is the sunflower. Commercialised primarily for its oil and its seeds, the sunflower is far more than simply decorative. It has the potential to develop into a valuable export product for Rwanda.

How is this linked to better living?

With 80% of Rwanda’s working population involved in the agricultural sector, agricultural support is one of the best means of fostering a more prosperous nation. The goal of the project in Rwanda is to grow five varieties of flowers on 70 hectares and achieve annual sales of $11 million over the next five years. The hope is that this will help to enrich the working community.

What is Toyota doing in practice?

Toyota is a co-investor in Bloom Hills Rwanda Ltd., a company set up to develop seeds and seedlings, cultivation techniques and the necessary logistics. We are also investing in some of the technologies used to support the Rwandan floriculture industry, such as solar energy, geothermal power and rain harvesting.

Why is Toyota doing this?

Sub-Saharan Africa has many hurdles to overcome, including agricultural productivity rates that are among the lowest in the world. Due to insufficiencies in fertilizer supply, irrigation, and the agricultural machinery available, as well as the underdeveloped status of cultivation technology, the region’s average grain yield is less than half the global average.

In terms of competitiveness, agricultural Rwanda is still at a sore disadvantage. But on the bright side, Rwanda has achieved a level of growth that has earned it the label “the Miracle of Africa” in recent years. And the country’s national government has announced ambitious plans for growth and diversification, including a tenfold increase in earnings from the horticulture sector by 2018. Toyota intends to play its part in further building up the Rwandan agriculture sector.

Is the project progressing smoothly?

Most definitely. Together with Bloom Hills Rwanda Ltd., and with the cooperation of Mizuho Information and Research Institute, Hachimantai City, and Iwate University, this floriculture venture is finally beginning to blossom!