Most of us know modern Toyota as a prolific manufacturer of economy cars, but the megalithic Japanese corporation builds more than Camrys, Corollas, and Siennas. A lot more. On top of its little-known side projects in biotechnology, energy systems, and wellness initiatives, the company also makes boats. And its latest sea-going project just might change the game of hull construction.
As part of its new partnership with fellow Japanese manufacturing corporation Yanmar, Toyota has created the Toyota-28 Concept, a pleasure craft utilizing a hull made from a new combination of fiberglass, carbon fiber, and aluminum. The new type of boat frame, dubbed the Toyota Hybrid Hull, combines the rigidity of an aluminum hull with the ease of construction of a fiberglass one. Yanmar says the new hull is seven times stronger than its fiberglass equivalent, while weighing 10 percent less than a comparable aluminum unit. This construction method also allows greater flexibility in design, enabling Toyota Hybrid Hulls to be formed in complex shapes, ones that'd be difficult to render in aluminum. Which, in turn, could lead to boats that are faster, more efficient, cooler-looking, or all of the above.
Yanmar says it plans on putting the Toyota Hybrid Hull technology into large-scale production this year, with a production craft based on the Toyota-28 slated to arrive in October. If it looks half as good as this concept, we wouldn't mind parking it in our yard.
Later, Toyota plans on taking the new boat-building methods and applying them to larger ships, like fishing boats and commercial vessels. And, hey, maybe if we're lucky, Toyota will take some of those lightweight manufacturing processes and apply 'em to that mythical next-generation Supra.