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Car reviews - Toyota - Camry - Hybrid sedan range

Launch Story

8 Feb 2010

TOYOTA has rolled out the final instalment in its long series of teaser information about the Camry Hybrid, which was launched in Melbourne today, by revealing the all-important list price of Australia’s first locally produced hybrid.

While the spectre of a global recall of its petrol-electric pioneer, the Prius, continued to plague its parent company, Toyota Australia has confirmed it will offer two versions of the mid-sized sedan, entry-level Hybrid Camry for $36,990 and the Hybrid Camry Luxury for $39,990.

Both models are available with upgrade packages that add between $3000 and $4500 to the base price.

The standard Camry Hybrid slots in at the high end of the Camry range and carries a $7000 premium over the base petrol-only Altise and a $4500 premium over the petrol-only Ateva model, which has a similar level of standard equipment.

The price structure also means the Camry Hybrid undercuts locally made entry-level six-cylinder cars in Holden's $39,990 Commodore and Ford's $39,690 Falcon - but not Toyota's own $35,990 Aurion.

The Camry Hybrid Luxury matches the $39,990 starting price of the Prius and significantly undercut the Prius i-Tech, which tops off the range at $53,500.

All Camry Hybrid models come standard with electronic stability control, six airbags, a rear-view camera, audible rear parking sensors, 16-inch alloy wheels with a full-sized spare, dual-zone air-conditioning and keyless entry and start.

They also score a unique front-end with new-look headlights, grille, front bumper, foglights and unique rear lights, as well as a noise-reducing windscreen, Optitron instrument cluster and Hybrid-branded front-door scuff plates.

Stepping up to the Luxury model adds different seat and door trim with leather accents, four-way electrically adjustable driver and passenger seats, rain-sensing wipers, an electro-chromatic rear-view mirror and a rear lip spoiler.

The entry-level Camry Hybrid is available with a $3000 option kit that adds a premium sound system with eight speakers, satellite-navigation and Bluetooth connectivity, plus an upgraded three-spoke steering wheel.

A $4500 option kit available for the Luxury models adds the same equipment as the base options kit, but also has a sunroof and extra rear interior lights.

Toyota Australia executive director of sales and marketing David Buttner said the Camry would introduce new customers to hybrid technology thanks to its practicality and price.

“Hybrid Camry provides a lot of automotive virtue, especially with prices under $40,000,” he said.

“Hybrid Camry is the future of Australian motoring. It brings hybrid technology to mainstream car buyers.”

He said the Camry Hybrid was good value, representing a $2000 premium over the comparable Ateva when the value of its extra equipment, claimed to be $2500, was taken into account.

Mr Buttner said the Camry Hybrid would attract customers stepping out of traditional six-cylinder cars.

“It will attract a significant number of people moving from a large six-cylinder car because they regard size and performance as important,” he said.

Toyota has said it will produce at least 10,000 Camry Hybrids a year at its Altona plant.

While federal, state and local government fleets are expected to buy significant numbers of Camry Hybrids, Mr Buttner says he expects the new model to actually boost private Camry sales.

He estimates that 40 per cent of Camry Hybrids will be sold to private customers and that private Camry sales would lift from 23 per cent in 2009 to around 30 per cent by the end of this year.

The Australian Camry Hybrid is largely the same as the US version that was introduced in 2006, sharing the same design and imported petrol engine and electric components.

It uses a 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol Atkinson Cycle engine and an electric motor fed by a boot-mounted nickel metal hydride battery pack.

The petrol engine delivers 110kW at 6000rpm and 187Nm of torque at 4400rpm, while the electric motor can produce 105kW and 270Nm. Those figures suggest the Camry Hybrid would be quite a fast machine, but it has been tuned for economy, recording a claimed a 8.9-second 0-100km/h time.

Even so, that is 0.9 seconds faster than the regular petrol model.

Importantly, the Camry Hybrid can take off and travel at low speed in electric-only mode for up to 2km. The petrol engine, mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission, also switches off at idle and when the vehicle is coasting.

The Camry Hybrid’s steering and air-conditioning are electrically assisted and the brake control is also electric to reduce the vehicle’s fuel consumption and enable operation when the petrol engine is not operating.

As we’ve already revealed, its official fuel consumption is 6.0 litres per 100km when tested to the ADR 81/02 combined cycle, which makes the Camry Hybrid more efficient than any other locally produced vehicle.

That includes Holden’s 3.0-litre Commodore (9.3L/100km), the Ford Falcon (9.9L/100km) and Toyota’s own Aurion (9.9L/100km).

The Camry Hybrid is also significantly more efficient than the petrol-only Camry, which has an official fuel economy rating of 8.8L/100km, and also produces less exhaust pipe CO2, with an official ADR 81/02 rating of 142 grams per km.

The Camry Hybrid’s unique front-end design no doubt helped with the fuel economy achievement, as it has a drag co-efficient of just 0.27Cd, which Toyota says is the lowest of any Australian-made car.

According to Toyota, compared to a Commodore, someone travelling 20,000km a year in a Hybrid Camry would save 560 litres of fuel a year - or $14 a week - if the fuel cost an average of $1.30 a litre.

It estimates exhaust pipe CO2 emissions would be reduced by almost 1.3 tonnes a year in the same instance.

The company came out hard against Australian six-cylinder cars at the Camry Hybrid launch today, a seemingly risky strategy given it also sells one.

Toyota said a Hybrid Camry could travel almost 300km further on a single tank of fuel than “Australia’s best-selling car” (Commodore) and almost 400km more than the “next best-selling Australian-made car” (Falcon), and emitted 55 to 66 per cent less CO2.

Toyota did not mention that the Aurion, Australia’s third best-selling locally made car, also has a similar range to its Australian six-cylinder rivals and emits a similar amount of CO2.

The Camry Hybrid runs the same suspension architecture as the regular Camry, but features unique tuning.

Part of the reason for this is to account for the extra weight, as the Hybrid is 150kg heavier than the standard car, but also because Toyota’s Australian engineers took the chance to improve the handling over the standard vehicle.

The Camry Hybrid has significantly less boot space than the regular model, down from 460 litres to 389 litres. Toyota points out the vehicle still has 60/40 split-fold rear seats and that the boot is still large enough for four golf club bags.

Prime minister Kevin Rudd announced Toyota Australia would build the Camry Hybrid at a press conference in Toyota Motor Corporation’s Japanese headquarters in June 2008.

Toyota says that Australia’s Camry Hybrid production had been set to come from Thailand until $35 million of federal government funding and an undisclosed Victorian government contribution ensured the approval of the local production plan.

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