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First look: Toyota Camry Hybrid slips out

Out there: Homegrown Camry Hybrid takes a bow early.

First image of Toyota’s Australian Camry Hybrid emerges ahead of its official debut

Toyota logo10 Dec 2009

By MARTON PETTENDY

HERE is the first complete, undisguised image of Toyota Australia’s vital new Camry Hybrid.

It was issued with an official press release yesterday pronouncing Toyota Motor Corporation as the world’s biggest investor in research and development, but has been replaced by a photo of the Prius on Toyota’s media website.

Asked if the release of the first Camry Hybrid image was a mistake, a Toyota spokesman said: “I’ll call it a tease”.

First full images and more details of Australia’s right-hand-drive Camry Hybrid will be made formally available tomorrow, when Toyota holds a line-off ceremony at its Altona plant in Melbourne to mark the official start of production.

Toyota showed a concept version of the Camry Hybrid at the Melbourne motor show in February and has made semi-disguised pilot versions available for media drives.

Australia’s Camry Hybrid, which differs cosmetically from the left-hand drive version already on sale in the US, will go on sale in February.

It is expected to come with a $3500-plus price premium over the all-petrol Camry and Toyota Australia hopes to sell 10,000 examples annually from 2010. Last year Toyota sold about 23,000 Camrys and 19,500 Aurion V6s, but sales of the latter have slumped to about 12,600 in 2009, with a month to go.

As part of the latest salvo in a long-running slow-release campaign, Toyota said that fuel consumption of the petrol-electric Camry Hybrid will be in the low-6.0L/100km range – significantly better than the Camry’s 8.8L/100km.

Apart from better fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions, as evidenced by our first pre-production drive, it will offer better handling, improved performance courtesy of about 20 per cent more power and 30 per cent more torque, a quieter cabin and a smaller boot.

The company announced yesterday that according to an international management consultancy firm, TMC spends $26.78 million a day – or about $1.1 million an hour – on research and development, making it the world’s top R&D spender.

It said the figures show TMC has been the world’s top R&D spender in each of the past three years among publicly traded corporations, including almost $US9 billion ($A9.776 billion) last year.

According to Booz and Company’s Global Innovation 1000 report, five of the top 20 global R&D spenders are automotive companies, with Toyota ahead of General Motors in fifth (previous year: second), Ford in 8th (sixth), Honda 16th (16th) and Volkswagen 17th (19th).

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