Toyota sold more than 10 million vehicles last year placing it in a virtual tie with Volkswagen as the world’s number one automaker. Stricter pollution regulations around the world and intense competition mean that top priority for traditional car companies is to cut costs and reduce emissions.
A new technology unveiled by Toyota on Wednesday is win for the Japanese company on both counts. Toyota announced the availability of a new, smaller catalyst that uses 20% less precious metal in approximately 20% less volume, while maintaining the same exhaust gas purification performance.
Toyota’s “world’s first integrally-molded Flow Adjustable Design Cell (FLAD)” is not the first time researchers have found innovative ways to reduce pricey platinum group metals in exhaust systems. But those technologies seldom make it all the way to the assembly line.
What’s different about Toyota’s FLAD is that the company says it’s ready for mass production. The first vehicle to sport the the new catalytic converter, the luxury flagship Lexus LC 500h, will get it later this year. Volume models further down the ranks will gradually follow says Toyota.
Roughly 75% of palladium demand is from the autocatalyst sector while application of platinum is more evenly spread with jewellery and other industrial uses making up more than half the total. 85% of rhodium is used in the auto sector, but it’s a tiny market – about 30 tonnes produced in good years.
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