As part of the energy diversity strategy Toyota is pursuing, the company will introduce a unique vehicle to the U.S. auto show circuit this fall: a CNG hybrid. At the upcoming Los Angeles Auto Show in November, Toyota will take the wraps off of a new Camry hybrid concept that uses compressed natural gas and electrons stored in a battery as power sources. The official announment from Toyota, pasted after the jump, doesn't give any specifics about the new car, but we don't have that long to wait to find out more.
This isn't the first time Toyota has entered the CNG waters. Back in 1999, Californians were able to get a Camry that ran on CNG, but without the hybrid part of the powertrain. Toyota's Irv Miller said that this new concept shows that Toyota is serious about pushing CNG in the future. Honda sells a CNG-powered vehicle in the U.S., the Civic GX.
TOYOTA TO DISPLAY CNG-POWERED CAMRY-HYBRID CONCEPT AT 2008 LOS ANGELES AUTO SHOW
PORTLAND, Ore., Sept. 24, 2008 – Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc., announced here today at its Sustainable Mobility Seminar that it will display a compressed natural gas (CNG) Camry Hybrid concept vehicle at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November.
"With the combination of plentiful long-term supplies in North America, improved and more efficient recovery methods, favorable pricing and clean-burn/low emissions characteristics, CNG has become a prime energy-source for the future," said Irv Miller, group vice president, TMS Corporate Communications. "With this concept, we are confirming our interest in pursuing CNG within our broad and comprehensive R&D scope."
In 1999 Toyota marketed a CNG-powered four-cylinder Camry to fleet customers in California. However, in an era of relatively cheap gasoline, customers were not attracted to a vehicle that required special refueling techniques and a limited refueling infrastructure and the program was discontinued a year later. Currently, there are only about 1,000 CNG refueling stations nationwide, with less than half open to the public.
The benefits of CNG are currently being amplified by rapidly changing market conditions and an increase in consumer environmental awareness. At the same time its drawbacks are being mitigated by a growing awareness that advanced technologies will require investment in appropriate infrastructure. The U.S. CNG pipeline system is an approximately 1.8 million mile network and expanding.
"Natural gas," adds Miller, "and an expanded retail-friendly CNG infrastructure could be seen as a model for future hydrogen infrastructure."