There are two Toyota stories in the news right now, and we're guessing they only want you to hear about one of them. The one we assume they'd rather go unnoticed is about government bodies asking why Toyotas are so popular with ISIS members. (I had a couple of jokes written here on this topic, but as I submit this post I find myself too chicken to taunt a violent extremist group and have deleted them.)
The second, more pleasant story is to do with Toyota's Barista project, which has to do with regenerative braking. It takes a lot of energy to move an automobile from a dead stop up to speed, and once we hit the brakes, all of that energy is lost and turned into useless heat in the brake pads. Thus manufacturers have been looking at regenerative braking systems to recover that energy and pump it back into acceleration.
The Barista project is meant to illustrate just how much energy they're able to recover. Thus they took their TS040 Hybrid racecar, had it run a simulated lap of Le Mans complete with acceleration and braking, and had their Kinetic Energy Recovery System feed the regained juice back into a bunch of electric appliances producing breakfast. Yes, breakfast. Here are the results:
You have to admit that one cup of coffee, a third of a fried egg and half a piece of toast each for 171 people does paint a clearer picture than saying that the KERS recovered "Six million joules." And once their engineers have fine-tuned KERS through the brutal rigors of endurance racing, we expect to see a version of it popping up in consumer-level cars, fulfilling its original purpose: To store it in a battery, to be used to help the car accelerate again. There may not be coffee and fried eggs, but there's sure to be a savings at the pump.