Toyota To Build CNG Hybrid Camry

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
toyota to build cng hybrid camry

While Chrysler jumps headlong into the concept car vaporware EV game, Toyota is taking its usual evolutionary approach. Bloomberg reports that ToMoCo will stick with its Prius strategy, augmenting it only with a Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) burning hybrid version of its Camry sedan. The CNG Hybrid is a response to lower natural gas prices in the US compared to normal gasoline, and the modest success of Honda’s CNG Civic. No pricing or efficiency information is currently available for the CNG Hybrid Camry. Meanwhile, Toyota is still driving down the replacement cost of its Prius-powering NiMh battery packs, which now set first and second-gen Prius owners back $2,299. Calling the Prius “as close to a silver bullet as you’re going to get,” Bill Reinert, national manager of advanced technology for Toyota Motor Sales claims “the reason the Prius was such a successful car is that the customer didn’t have to do anything to it.” And to those who say that hybrids are a “transitional technology,” Toyota will be selling a million Priora per year by 2010, before Chrysler and GM even start selling their highly-touted EVs. Slow and steady, as they say…

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  • Psarhjinian Psarhjinian on Sep 25, 2008
    Sorry to nit-pick, but I spent some time working in an emissions lab, and believe the auto industry takes it in the shorts when it comes to emissions. Good points, in all. Given your background, hat's your take on emissions in cars other than than those like the Civic? Say CNG/LPG buses versus their diesel brethren? Or larger-engined cars (taxis, work trucks)? I ask because it seems like the move to CNG would be a boon to air quality in vehicles like those, especially in "city in a bowl" geographies like my former hometown.

  • Brush Brush on Sep 25, 2008

    CNG is a New Zealand staple. In Australia we have factory LPG dedicated Falcons, Commodores, Mitsubishi Magna (before they quit building cars in Australia). All working and with LPG prices aprroximating 1/2 price of petrol economical to boot. With a government rebate of AUS$1000 for new cars and $2000 for converting older cars a winner all around. Now tell opec you are moving you entire dependance from oil to natural gas for transport and see them (and the E85'ers) start blubbering!

  • Dave Skinner Dave Skinner on Sep 26, 2008
    psarhjinian : Given your background, what’s your take on emissions in cars other than those like the Civic? Say CNG/LPG buses versus their diesel brethren? Or larger-engined cars (taxis, work trucks)? This is a topic with many caveats, but here's the Cliff Notes version: Regarding CNG/LPG versus diesel power in buses: Current technology makes compressed gases the better choice. Diesel tends to be high in NOx and particulates, both something to be avoided. Clean diesel also requires special catalysts and traps, while CNG only requires a three-way catalyst. Given those facts, CNG is an inexpensive alternative that has a big impact on the emissions of older diesel busses. Caveat 1: This statement assumes we’re converting old technology diesel busses to CNG. I left the emissions lab in 2003, and haven’t tracked the changes over the past five years so the answer could change for the newest technology. Regarding vehicle size: Current US emission regulations measure tailpipe pollutants by mass (grams per mile), rather than concentration (percent). While this is often misunderstood, it means the total WEIGHT of CO, HC and NOx coming out the tailpipe is the same regardless of vehicle size. Caveat 2: True only if the vehicles are in the same "BIN" or category (LEV, ULEV, SULEV). Caveat 3: Historically light trucks have been allowed to emit more pollutants than cars. CARB and EPA wrote legislation to close this loophole, but I’m not sure how today’s standards read. I ask because it seems like the move to CNG would be a boon to air quality in vehicles like those, especially in “city in a bowl” geographies like my former hometown. Folks who model air quality for a city look very carefully at all pollutant sources, and factor in local conditions when designing a regional air quality plan. Towns such as Denver and Salt Lake City have to factor in altitude along with bowl type geography, and Southern towns such as Phoenix and Houston have to weigh in more sunlight than towns in the Northeast. In addition, air quality regulators look at bang for the buck before making recommendations. For example, if a town has a carbon monoxide problem, replacing diesel buses will have little impact, since diesels produce almost no CO. Conversely, towns with ozone problems would look at diesel replacement very carefully, since a changeover could have a big impact on air quality. Whew! Four hundred words, and I barely scratched the surface. If you want to find out more about local pollutants, contact your local air quality agency, and ask to speak to the folks in charge of mobile sources. Their work day is devoted to these issues, and can talk about the issues that directly affect you.

  • Richard Chen Richard Chen on Sep 26, 2008

    @tulsa_97sr5: CNG tanks don't fit well in the convoluted space that gas tanks do. Example: Honda Civic GX, with a 7 gallon equivalent carbon fiber tank, still loses half its trunk space.