Toyota has released images of the Toyota CNG Camry Hybrid Concept, or the T. Boone Pickens cruiser as we like to call it. Already known for their gas-electric hybrids, this concept combines the Hybrid Synergy Drive system with a natural gas-fueled engine. Toyota claims the Hybrid should travel more than 250 miles per fill-up, which could theoretically occur at any of the approximately 1,000 CNG refueling stations in the US. As this is currently just a concept, they've added an aggressive body kit with a covered grille which certainly distinguishes it from the regular Camry Hybrid. Natural gas has been part of the alternative fuel discussion because of its domestic production capacity and relatively stable price. Details about the CNG Hybrid Camry from Toyota below.
A Camry Hybrid Fueled by CNG As you very likely know, we’re big believers in the concept of hybrid vehicles. We build gas-electric hybrids in several styles; one of them, our Prius, is the most fuel-efficient vehicle in America. But we also believe that there’s more than one way to solve a problem. One problem we’d like to solve involves the unpredictable nature of gas prices. Gas prices are relatively low now, but they were incredibly high last summer, and could well revert to those high levels. But the price of compressed natural gas (CNG) remains fairly stable, and there’s a strong, reliable domestic supply of CNG. It just happens to be one of many alternative fuel applications being explored in Toyota’s broad sustainable mobility research and development strategy. That’s why we built a special concept CNG Camry Hybrid that we’ll display at the Los Angeles Auto Show on Wednesday. To convert a stock Camry Hybrid to a CNG vehicle, the gasoline fuel system was replaced with a CNG system that includes a pair of CNG tanks installed in the spare-tire well of the vehicle’s trunk. Because it now lacks a spare tire, the CNG Camry Hybrid rolls on runflat tires. And roll it does. With the proposed CNG equivalent of 8 gallons of gasoline in its tanks, the estimated range of the CNG Camry Hybrid is more than 250 miles. Link that efficiency to the price of CNG and you can see why we’re interested in this – as this is written, CNG is about a dime cheaper, per gallon, than the national average price of regular-grade 87-octane gasoline. But price and efficiency are only the tip of the iceberg of CNG benefits. Natural gas also produces lower particulate emissions and lower levels of nitrous oxide (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2) and non-methane organic gasses (NMOG) when compared with gasoline. And because CNG is so clean, potential wear and tear on an engine fueled by it is greatly reduced. Those are the considerable upsides to CNG. There also are downsides. An important one is that there are fewer than 1,000 CNG refueling stations in the U.S., with fewer than half of them open to the public. Also, natural gas is less dense than gasoline. So a CNG engine will have approximately 10% less power than an equivalent gasoline engine. Also, a CNG vehicle’s fuel tank must be cylindrical, so it is more difficult to package than a gasoline tank, which can be shaped to conform to any available space. We want to underscore the fact that the CNG Camry Hybrid is just a concept vehicle. This concept vehicle is a statement that we intend to include CNG in our diverse portfolio of future alternative-fuel R&D. Our purpose in building it as a concept is to demonstrate the efficiency and adaptability of Hybrid Synergy Drive, and to demonstrate that we continue to work with a variety of powertrain concepts to ensure that we have products that meet the current and future needs of our customers on a global basis. We think you’ll find the CNG Camry Hybrid interesting. So if you’re visiting the LA show, feel free to drop by and take a look.