LOS ANGELES – Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. highlighted a new version of its Hybrid Synergy Drive system by displaying a compressed natural gas Camry Hybrid concept vehicle at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show.
"In the near future, growing demand for liquid petroleum simply and effectively will exceed supply," said Chris Hostetter, group vice president, TMS advanced product strategy. "Before that occurs, automakers must look to vehicles powered by alternative fuels. We believe CNG will be one of those alternatives."
The CNG Camry Hybrid concept was designed by the TMS Advanced Product Strategy group and built by Metal Crafters of Fountain Valley, Calif. To convert the stock Camry Hybrid to a CNG vehicle, the gasoline fuel system was replaced with a CNG system including two CNG tanks installed in the spare tire well area.
The exterior of the vehicle also received some sporty "concept" touches. A sleek custom front fascia and front bumper cover eliminate the grill opening, while a custom rear bumper covers the tail pipe and visible exhaust system. The vehicle is fitted with 19 x 7.5 alloy wheels and Bridgestone Potenza 225/35ZR19 run-flat tires to accommodate the lack of a spare tire. The overall ride height is lowered while new side body skirts and "Compressed Natural Gas Hybrid" graphics complete the unique look.
In 1999, Toyota marketed a CNG-powered four-cylinder Camry to fleet customers in California. Due to relatively low gasoline costs at that time, customers were not attracted to a vehicle that required special refueling techniques and a limited refueling infrastructure. The program was discontinued a year later. Today there are less than 1,000 CNG refueling stations nationwide, with less than half open to the public.
"Toyota believes CNG has huge potential, both in the U.S. and globally," said Hostetter, "but CNG is just one of the many alternative fuels we're exploring in our ongoing advanced technology research and development."
Toyota CNG Camry Hybrid Concept Preliminary Specifications Powertrain:
- 2.4L, 4-cylinder engine with Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive.
- Gasoline fuel system replaced with CNG system.
- Estimated fuel economy (mpg): City/Highway/Combined = 32/34/33; Gasoline Camry Hybrid = 33/34/34.
- Net horsepower (Engine + Electric Motor + Generator + Power Storage) 170 hp.