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Camry joins Prius in power war

Toyota will produce Australia's first home-grown hybrid car, which will headline the company's stand at the Show.

An evaluation left-hand drive USA-spec Toyota Camry Hybrid will be on display, a little over 12 months before the start of local production at Toyota’s Altona plant in Melbourne’s West.

The petrol-electric hybrid will offer more performance while using less fuel than conventional petrol Camry and emit less carbon dioxide.

Showcasing Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive technology, the Camry uses similar technology to the Prius, the world’s best selling hybrid. Camry uses a 110kW four-cylinder petrol engine and a high voltage electric motor that operates at low speeds (under 50km/h) and low loads, and can run short distances solely on electric power only. Toyota suggests there could be savings of 35 percent over the current four-cylinder Camry which is rated at 9.9l/100km.

Camry Hybrid, like Prius, also uses regenerative braking to provide a charge to the boot-mounted nickel-metal hydride batteries.

At launch, Toyota will be the first and only carmaker in Australia selling a locally built hybrid car, and plans to sell 10,000 hybrid Camry sedans a year when production starts in late 2009, for on sale in 2010. What will help boost sales is the Federal Government.

The Government is pumping $35 million into a locally-built hybrid scheme, labelled the Green Car Innovation Fund. Producing cars locally is a lengthy and expensive process and without the government’s assistance, Toyota would not have the business case to build the Camry Hybrid here.

Couple that with the government’s need for a solution to rising petrol prices and the cost of running its own fleet and it’s a symbiotic relationship. Don’t be surprised to see a few governmental Camry Hybrids appearing in 2010.