|The CNG Camry Hybrid. Click to enlarge.|
Toyota Motor Sales (TMS) USA showed a compressed natural gas (CNG) Camry Hybrid concept vehicle at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show. (Earlier post.)
The CNG Camry Hybrid concept was designed by the TMS Advanced Product Strategy group and built by Metal Crafters of Fountain Valley, Calif. To convert the stock Camry Hybrid to a CNG vehicle, the gasoline fuel system was replaced with a CNG fuel system including two Lincoln composite Type 4 CNG tanks installed in the spare tire well area.
The CNG Camry Hybrid retains the 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder engine with Hybrid Synergy Drive. The concept delivers net (all power sources) 170 hp (127 kW); the production Camry Hybrid delivers net 187 hp (139 kW).
The CNG Camry Hybrid stores sufficient natural gas at 3,600 psi to support a 250+ mile range, with combined fuel economy of 33 mpg gasoline equivalent. (The gasoline Camry Hybrid has a combined fuel economy rating of 34 mpg.)
The vehicle is fitted with 19 x 7.5 alloy wheels and Bridgestone Potenza 225/35ZR19 run-flat tires to accommodate the lack of a spare tire.
In the near future, growing demand for liquid petroleum simply and effectively will exceed supply. Before that occurs, automakers must look to vehicles powered by alternative fuels. We believe CNG will be one of those alternatives.—Chris Hostetter, group vice president, TMS Advanced Product Strategy
Currently more than 99% of natural gas used in the US comes from domestic and other North American sources. Proven worldwide natural gas reserves are estimated to last until 2100 and have the potential to last until 2200 through improved advanced production methods, according to Toyota.
|“Toyota believes CNG has huge potential, both in the US and globally, but CNG is just one of the many alternative fuels we’re exploring in our ongoing advanced technology research and development.”|
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.
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.