At the 2016 Japan International Boat Show, Toyota unveiled its Toyota-28 concept powerboat, which features a hybrid hull combining carbon fiber, fiberglass and a tiny bit of aluminum. Toyota’s boats typically have all-aluminum hulls, and the Toyota 28 is the first in the brand to feature fiberglass composites. The specific combination of materials enabled Toyota to produce complex, curved shapes while offering the rigidity of aluminum. Toyota says using molds to create these shapes can lead to improved maneuverability.
In addition to the ability to produce complex shapes, composites also allow Toyota to speed up the production process. Toyota’s traditional aluminum hulls offer great rigidity, but require advanced welding techniques that make them hard to manufacture in large numbers. By using composites, Toyota was able to use vacuum infusion for the molding to avoid tedious welding. Toyota also claims that using composites makes the Toyota-28’s hull 10 percent lighter than its previous all-aluminium hulls.
The 26-foot model is the first to be built under Toyota’s relatively new partnership with Osaka-based manufacturer Yanmar. Toyota and Yanmar have been working together for two years on the development of production technologies for what they call “next generation hulls.” The partnership combines Toyota’s carbon fiber expertise with Yanmar’s FRP molding technology. Toyota has been in the marine industry for more than 25 years, but the partnership marks the first time it has collaborated with an established marine business.
Though still a concept, the Toyota-28 testing phase is almost complete. Engine options and prices have not been disclosed, but the boat is projected to enter production this October. It will be produced in partnership with Yanmar.