• Nov 19th 2008 at 1:36AM
  • 7

Click above for a hi-res gallery of the Camry CNG Hybrid

All that's missing is an airbrushed portrait of T. Boone Pickens on the hood. Of what, you ask? Of the Toyota Camry CNG Hybrid concept, which explores the idea of combining Hybrid Synergy Drive with natural gas power. It debuts this week at the Los Angeles Auto Show, and is easily identifiable thanks to its grille-free schnoz. With a pair of tanks stowed in the trunk's spare tire well (the car rolls on run-flats), the CNG-fueled Camry Hybrid reportedly has a range of "more than 250 miles" according to the Open Road Blog. Upsides? Compressed natural gas burns cleaner, emitting fewer particulate emissions than gasoline, and even with the lower pump prices we're currently experiencing, CNG is still a little cheaper per gallon.

The tradeoffs? CNG must be stored in cylindrical containers, so Toyota (or any other automaker, for that matter) loses the flexibility of being able to shape the fuel tank to best suit a car's packaging. CNG's also less dense than gas, which means less overall power than a comparable, conventionally-powered car. And then there's that infrastructure bugaboo that seems to always pops up when discussing otherwise nifty-sounding green fuel ideas (think ethanol and hydrogen): a dearth of filling stations for the fuel in question. Toyota says there are only around 1,000 CNG pumps in the country, and most of them aren't publicly accessible anyway. Hence, they have no plans to produce a car like this anytime resembling "soon" -- it's basically just eye candy for green-conscious showgoers.

[Sources: Toyota, WCF]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      I said to sell these cars with 2 tanks , gasoline and natural gas, and sell a machine like the honda phil or the eco-fueler one that is the same kind. I said to talk abouth the eco-fueler car even if it's a 3 wheels design like the aptera. I said to adapt these cars to hydrogen gas and i said to sell hydrogen producing machine on the market that convert holy water to a explosive gas for giving free power and energy. By not doing my prayers that i write regurlarly here we lose time and pay a lot of tax for nothing like the war in iraq for exemple.

      Toyota, gm and the rest can give all that in the next couple of weeks. Don't lauph, toyota honda can go down the sink like gm and ford and chrysler too. Consumers want something new and interresting and the japaneses in 1 or 2 years will vanish crumbled by depts if they still don't remove theirs 2 hands from their a*S.
      • 6 Years Ago
      We have owned a Honda Civic GX (dedicated CNG) since December 1998. CNG is a minimum 88% methane and 130+octane. It can easily provide as much power as a gasoline engine. Particulate matter is practically nonexistent, and other pollutants are much lower than gasoline. CNG is non-toxic and it is lighter than air, dissipating up and away from ignition sources. CNG can also be recovered from landfills and other biomethane sources, making it a renewable energy source. It requires little refinement, primarily purifying and drying, to be able to be added to existing natural gas lines without problems.
      1) Yes, we only average 200 miles before we need to refuel in our Honda, however we are currently paying $1.84 per gas gallon equivalent from PG&E in Northern California. If we were compressing at home, we would be paying less than $1.15 per gge.
      2) There are just over 100 public refueling stations in California, making it relatively easy to navigate the entire state, however, we do not have the range to leave the state heading north to Oregon (the Camry with its greater range would reach the southern Oregon stations).
      3) The AC in our 1998 GX is not as efficient as we would like, but it still works well. We just understand that we will lose a couple miles per gallon during extensive use in hot California Central Valley driving.
      4) We have a tiny 5.5 cubic foot trunk. The newer versions increased the trunk space by nearly 2 cubic feet, but they are still small. This Camry has a practical trunk, however, we are NOT sold on run flats, which are extremely expensive.

      Our Honda heats quickly, even on the coldest mornings, so we don't understand the lack of an open grill, however, Toyota may have engineered other methods to cool the engine. Using a CNG engine in a "gas"/electric hybrid makes more sense, because the engine heats more quickly and stays at a more efficient range much longer than a lighter gasoline engine does. A CNG hybrid would also be nearly zero emission, much cleaner than ANY gasoline/electric hybrid. The Honda Civic GX is cleaner than ANY hybrid now on the road and PHEVs, though offering better mileage, may actually pollute more than their non-plugin cousins, causing greater pollution during the startup phase of their gasoline engines.

      We have over 83,000 miles on our Civic GX and the exhaust pipe is still clean as new, we still average 27-32 miles per gallon and have hit 39 mpg on long trips at 60 miles per hour. We would not trade our car, unless we can purchase a pure EV. They were only available with leases when we considered this car. We do not lease, choosing to drive our cars until they are no longer worth repairing.

      We can still drive in the HOV lanes with one person, over toll bridges during commute times for free, and contribute approximately 1/100 the combined air pollution of a comparable gasoline compact car.

      Please note that ACEEE has rated the Honda Civic GX as the cleanest car on the road again, for the sixth year (this rating includes mileage, pollution, greenhouse gas footprint, and getting the methane to market in a compressed form--well to pump rating).
      • 6 Years Ago
      Paul, who determines what is a vital technology? Who determines how much is enough in terms of "releasing" vital technology. Lastly what is so vital about a CNG car, they are in most state/municipal fleets.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Oh, also: Yo' Toyota! Get some ventilation in the front end of the car. CNG burns at 1100 degrees F! You're going to need that engine well to stay cool. ;-)
      • 6 Years Ago
      Gotta call you out on the "CNG's also less dense than gas, which means less overall power than a comparable, conventionally-powered car" bit. CNG has a much higher octane rating so you can tune it to make more power than on petrol.
      • 6 Years Ago
      This is the old chicken-or-the-egg argument. "We won't build the car" because there aren't enough pumps to the "We won't build the pumps" because there aren't enough cars! Toyota, pay attention. You build the car, we'll find the pumps!

      In Edwin Black's book "The Plan" it argues for forcing companies to "Patent & License Intervention". This involves "Use-It-Or-Lose-It" compulsory license to force companies with vital technologies to allow the application of their patents. The first that comes to mind is the ones for Fuelmaker's Phill compressor. If Honda won't or can't build sufficient quantities of them then others should be allowed to while paying Honda their royalties. Give us the cars, give us the pumps!
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'm guessing CNG is derived from natural gas? well they are currently destroying the natural beauty and ground water in NW arkansas getting this stuff out, the Fraccing fluid is toxic and the ADEQ, Arkansas Dept of Environmental Quality, is turning a blind eye, well lets face fully complicit with the pollution this is causing, the argument I heard yesterday was it contained the same chemicals as found in food preservatives and cosmetics, which could mean pretty much anything.
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