VVT-i, or Variable Valve Timing with intelligence, is an automobile variable valve timing technology developed by Toyota, similar to the i-VTEC technology by Honda. The Toyota VVT-i system replaces the Toyota VVT offered starting in 1991 on the 4A-GE 20-Valve engine. The VVT system is a 2-stage hydraulically controlled cam phasing system.
VVT-i, introduced in 1996, varies the timing of the intake valves by adjusting the relationship between the camshaft drive (belt, scissor-gear or chain) and intake camshaft. Engine oil pressure is applied to an actuator to adjust the camshaft position. In 1998, "Dual" VVT-i (adjusts both intake and exhaust camshafts) was first introduced in the RS200 Altezza's 3S-GE engine. Dual VVT-i is also found in Toyota's new generation V6 engine, the 3.5L 2GR-FE V6. This engine can be found in the Avalon, RAV4, and Camry in the US, the Aurion in Australia, and various models in Japan, including the Estima. Dual VVT-i is also used in the Toyota Corolla (1.6 dual VVT-i 124bhp). Other Dual VVT-i engines include the 1.8L 2ZR-FE I4, used in Toyota's next generation of compact vehicles such as the Scion XD. It is also used in the 2JZ-GE and 2JZ-GTE engines used in the Lexus IS300 and in the Toyota Supra. By adjusting the valve timing engine start and stop occurs virtually unnoticeably at minimum compression. In addition fast heating of the catalytic converter to its light-off temperature is possible thereby reducing hydrocarbon emissions considerably.
Video animation of VVT-i (courtesy of PT. Toyota Astra Motor, Indonesia) can be found here .
In 1998, Toyota started offering a new technology, VVTL-i, which can alter valve lift (and duration) as well as valve timing. In the case of the 16 valve 2ZZ-GE, the engine has 2 camshafts, one operating intake valves and one operating exhaust valves. Each camshaft has two lobes per cylinder, one low rpm lobe and one high rpm, high lift, long duration lobe. Each cylinder has two intake valves and two exhaust valves. Each set of two valves are controlled by one rocker arm, which is operated by the camshaft. Each rocker arm has a slipper follower mounted to the rocker arm with a spring, allowing the slipper follower to move up and down with the high lobe without affecting the rocker arm. When the engine is operating below 6000-7000rpm (dependent on year, car, and ECU installed), the low lobe is operating the rocker arm and thus the valves. When the engine is operating above the lift engagement point, the ECU activates an oil pressure switch which pushes a sliding pin under the slipper follower on each rocker arm. This in effect, switches to the high lobe causing high lift and longer duration.
Toyota has now ceased production of its VVTL-i engines for most markets, because the engine does not meet Euro IV specifications for emissions. As a result, this engine has been discontinued on some Toyota models, including that of the Corolla T-Sport (Europe), Corolla Sportivo (Australia), Celica, Corolla XRS, Toyota Matrix XRS, and the Pontiac Vibe GT, all of which had the 2ZZ-GE engine fitted.