November 23, 2008 At a time when America’s auto manufacturers are going cap in hand to the Government for donations to secure their survival, how can there still be such large gaps in the marketplace? Toyota showed a CNG-Powered Camry Hybrid Concept at the LA Auto Show, portending the filling of a gaping hole in the market for a compressed natural gas hybrid. Put simply, in the near future, the demand for liquid petroleum will exceed supply and thanks to one of those immutable laws of commerce, when that happens, petrol will cost a lot more than it does right now. Apart from the potentially reduced running costs and environmental benefits afforded by using CNG over petrol, worldwide natural gas reserves should last until at least 2100 and widespread adoption of CNG could reduce U.S. dependency on foreign oil and reduce vehicle operating costs.
Toyota used its Hybrid Synergy Drive system, a 2.4 liter, four cylinder engine and replaced the gasoline fuel system replaced with CNG system in the new “concept” which we certainly hope will be rushed to market in the near future. The estimated fuel economy for the new vehicle is very similar to that of a gasoline Camry Hybrid with 32 mpg for the city cycle, 34 for the highway cycle and 33 for the combined cycle, compared with 33/34/34 mpg. Net horsepower for the CNG hybrid is 170 bhp. 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.
Natural gas also produces lower particulate emissions, nitrous oxide (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2) and non-methane organic gases (NMOG), and less CO2 per unit of energy when compared with gasoline. In addition, it has a higher flash point (ignition temperature) than gasoline, can run at a higher compression ratio and is quickly dispersed into the atmosphere, should a leak occur.
Interestingly, 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 Chris Hostetter, group vice president, TMS Advanced Product Strategy, "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
2.4 liter, 4-cylinder engine with Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive(R) Gasoline fuel system replaced with CNG system
ESTIMATED FUEL ECONOMY (mpg)
City/Highway/Combined = 32/34/33 (Gasoline Camry Hybrid = 33/34/34)
(Engine + Electric Motor + Generator + Power Storage) 170 hp
* Two (2) Lincoln composite Type 4 tanks - plastic liner with carbon fiber wrapped exterior * Tanks installed in spare tire well area * Maximum 3,600 psi
Proposed 8 gallon gasoline equivalent
Overall Length: 191.2 Overall Width: 71.7 Overall Height: 57.5 Wheelbase: 109.3 Wheel Size: 19 x 7.5 alloy wheels