Toyota’s Mike Sweers Defends 2014 Tundra – AutoNews Interview
Last week, Toyota chief engineer Mike Sweers had a revealing conversation with AutoNews West Coast Editor Mark Rechtin. Here is what he had to say.
Rather than cherry pick what we tell you, here is the entire post (click here to go to the page).
Q: A lot is being made of the Tundra engines being carried over, while Chevrolet, Ford and Ram are rolling out new powertrains with their truck redesigns. Did Toyota goof?
A: In 2007, we had the most advanced powertrains in the segment. We had overhead cams, 32 valves and variable valve timing. Now the others are just competitive. Everyone is saying how the Silverado has this new engine family, but it’s still just pushrods. And those small turbo engines may make a lot of power, but at their heart, they are still small-displacement engines that can’t do the same thing as a big V-8. And engine braking is a big thing when towing.
Q. What about adding direct injection or cylinder deactivation to Toyota’s truck engines?
A. We looked at these things and just couldn’t find the return on investment for the owner. Both are expensive for us and for our customers. And my concern is whether customers see real-world fuel economy differences or if it’s just so the manufacturer can get off-cycle credits for CAFE. Truck guys are quick to catch on when they pay for something and it doesn’t deliver. When we can prove direct injection is beneficial to the customer, we’ll do it.
Q. What about stop-start?
A. With a V-8 that has a lot of torque, it won’t be a seamless integration on restart like you would get with a Prius. You’ll probably get a real kick in the back. And for the small fuel economy gains you would get, I think most customers would find it annoying.
Q. Current Tundra owners have complained about a significant driveline “clunk” during deceleration. What have you done to address that with the 2014 model?
A. If you really push it, you can still create it. But we’ve put countermeasures in place to resolve it. Our prop-shaft setup has always been different from our competitors’. We have split it in two, with a counterbearing to make the shaft shorter.
Q. Did the noise have something to do with the counterbearing?
A. No. But if I told you what we did, then you’d know what was wrong. I’m sure someone clever will tear apart the new one and old one and figure it out.
Q. There were some complaints about bed-hop. Sure, it’s a pickup truck; it’ll have some back-end bounce when unladen. But these were some really upset people.
A. We added hydraulic dampeners in 2010 to address this. But for 2014, we changed the spring rate on the leaf springs, especially on the off-road package. There’s a fine line between a good highway ride and off-road capability, especially involving the secondary damping. We also revised the valving of all four shocks. I think we hit a nice balance.
Q. What was something current owners told you that surprised you?
A. We found that 88 percent of our crew cab customers didn’t like the rear seats. We spent all this time and effort to make this great seat that reclines, tilts and slides. And all the time, they just wanted a flip-up seat so they could store more stuff. I don’t want to spend money to dissatisfy our customers.
Your turn. Fire away!
Filed Under: Tundra News