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Thursday, December 08, 2005

Hybrid Toyota Camry Coming Soon

The all-new redesigned 2007 Toyota Camry and the much anticipated Camry Hybrid will both be unvieled at a press conference at the 2006 American International Auto Show (Detroit Auto Show) in Detroit on January 9th, according to a Toyota press release issued today.

The hybrid version of the Camry will feature Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive and will be Toyota's first application of the system to a vehicle that also has a non-hybrid version. The Camry has been the best-selling car in America for seven of the past eight years and the hybrid version will likely be popular.

As Toyota announces in the press release:

"The completely restyled and reengineered Camry will feature significantly improved performance and new level of comfort and refinement.

Toyota extends its hybrid leadership by making its exclusive Hybrid Synergy Drive available in the 2007 Camry. The Camry Hybrid will deliver the highest level of Camry performance ever achieved in both fuel efficiency and low emissions and also achieve impressive power."

According to a Toyota press release, the new Camry line consists of a price-leader CE trim level, volume LE, sporty SE, and luxury XLE [I believe this is for the non-hybrids, hybrids will likely come in only one trim initially, similar to the Civic or Accord hybrids from Honda]. All non-hybrid Camrys will feature a 2.4 liters 4-cylinder engine of 167 hp. The LE, SE, and XLE trims will also offer V6 versions with a 268-hp 3.5-liter and a 6-speed automatic transmission. This is more horespower than Camry's previous most-powerful V6 which had 210 hp and used a 5-speed automatic. The 4-cylinder hybrid and non-hybrid models will come with either a 5-speed manual transmission or a 5-speed automtic. Both '07 automatics include a manual shift gate.

The hybrid version of the Camry teams a special 2.4-liter 4-cylinder gas engine with a battery-powered electric motor for 192 net hp. It features a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) which provides near-infinite drive ratios and keeps the torque at optimum levels, boosting acceleration time, responsiveness and gas mileage (usually by ~10%).

There was initial speculation that the hybrid Camry would not follow the lead of Honda's Accord Hybrid that features a V6 engine and uses the hybrid drive to add even more horsepower (a beafy 255 hp) than the non-hybrid. It seems however, that the Camry Hybrid will offer more hp than the baseline 4-cylinder regular model (192 hp vs. 167). However, the hybrid model will still likely see much better gas mileage than the regular Camry (the addition of CVT alone probably compensates for the loss if mileage from the extra horsepower). It will also likely be much more fun to drive - a bit more hp with the addition of CVT should offer a responsive, quick ride.

Both models have newly-redesigned exteriors that offer a sleak drag coefficient of 0.28 (the Prius, at 0.26, is one of the most "slippery" cars on the road) which should help them achieve good highway fuel economy. The translated article also reports that the length of both models will be the same as the 2002-2006 Camry but will add 2.2 inches to wheelbase and cut the height by nearly an inch. Base-model curb weight is up some 175 lb from the previous Camry models.

An ABC news story from May of this year (when Toyota first announced they would build the hybrid Camry) reported that Toyota plants to build 48,000 Camry hybrids each year at their largest North American production plant in Georgetown, Kentucky. This will mark Toyota's first hybrid auto production in North America. Toyota does not plan to add any additional plants or additions and hybrid production will take place on the Georgetown plant's existing lines. The 7.5 million square foot plant currently produces the Camry, Avalon and Solara models.

[Treehugger posted a bunch of pictures of the new Camry here if you are interested.]

The Camry is a very popular car. It will be nice to have a hybrid version on the market and I'm sure this will drive hybrid sales even higher. I hope that Toyota can keep the price difference between the traditional and hybrid versions to a minimum. It's nice the see the use of CVT in the hybrid. I can't wait until this technology is standard in all cars. I would love to test drive one of the hybrids once it comes out. I'm sure it will be a fun, responsive ride and I think many will enjoy driving it. This will help boost sales and dispell the notion that hybrids are poky or slow. It is a bit dissapointing that Toyota opted to boost the horsepower of their hybrid rather than keep a similar hp and maximize fuel efficiency gains. I guess some balancing between power and efficiency was made. Also, given the slick drag coefficient and the 4-cylinder engine, we will can expect to see a pretty good fuel economy from both models of the Camry. I'll be waiting to hear more in January...

[A hat tip to Treehugger and Green Car Congress on this one.]

1 comment:

Jesse Jenkins said...

Green Car Congress has more today on the 2007 Camry which debuted this week at the Detroit Auto Show.