Camry Hybrid production begins in Australia

Toyota has begun production of hybrid cars in Australia - has a report on the commencement of Camry Hybrid production in Australia.

Sparks flew this morning as Toyota Australia turned on the robots that will make the country’s first hybrid car based on a Camry. ...

The Camry, the biggest seller in the medium-sized car category, will receive the equivalent of a heart and lung transplant to accommodate Toyota’s "Synergy Drive" hybrid drivetrain. It allies an electric motor to a conventional internal combustion four-cylinder petrol engine with sophisticated electronics to charge its onboard battery.

The hybrid Camry, like the Toyota Prius hybrid, can operate on electric power alone, or in tandem with the petrol engine to cut fuel use and emissions.

It’s a high stakes venture to secure the future of the Altona manufacturing plant and its workers and suppliers, which has seen demand slump for its locally-made four-cylinder Camry and six-cylinder Aurion sedans.

Toyota will build a small batch of pre-production vehicles at Altona before beginning full-scale production in December. The car will go on sale in February.

I've done the numbers for the Camry hybrid as a tool-of-trade fleet car and if our guesses at Toyota's pricing are in the right range the Camry hybrid will be a very attractive proposition for high-km use around cities and suburbs.

Why high-km? Because businesses need each car to do more than 20,000 km/year, and preferably more than 25,000 km/year to justify paying $8,000 to $10,000 above the cost of a basic Corolla.

Why around cities and suburbs? Because the hybrid has practically no advantage for country driving. Its fuel and emissions savings are real, provided you are driving round town in stop-start traffic. If you drive mainly in the country get a diesel instead.

I've reviewed 5 years operating data on a large Prius fleet and they are averaging a pretty impressive 5.1 L/100km despite some being unloved Pool cars and many being driven by everyone in the office.

A typical business user doing 25,000 km/year around the 'burbs should be able to halve their fuel use and emissions by choosing a Camry hybrid. But they won't save any money because the higher price of the vehicle cancels out the savings on fuel, at least until the next time our petrol prices head sharply north.

All this assumes continuation of Business As Usual of course.

Plenty of buyers will actually choose the Camry hybrid for its green aura at a more reasonable price than the Prius. Notice how Toyota has moved the Prius up-market to "aspirational" territory and emphasised its more cutting-edge technology? Comes at a price.

Cheers, Mark

Demonstrates what the real problem is: urban traffic. Those 25,000 Km PA will have a time cost to them as well which get teh accountants attention if they realised how much they are paying for highly qualifed and skilled people to sit in traffic. My guess is that the cost of labour would blow the doors off the cost of petrol and cars.

For everyone's sake I hope the new Camry can be better on fuel consumption, an attractive price and also provide some stimulation for local manufacturing. (If petrol prices spike once more it may get a big kick in demand, but at the moment I'm stretching to imagine the Camry having the "cachet" of the quirky and expensive Prius.)

One worry for me is that Australia has ended up making only "dinosaur" cars - Commodores, Falcons and Camrys - and importing anything more efficient such as Priuses or small diesels. Hopefully the hybrid Camry will be the first step towards a viable manufacturing industry for lighter diesels and electric plug-ins.

If we don't have an industry we won't be manufacturing anything.

I expect Hybrid cars like the Camry to hold sway, in sales terms, over all-electric cars like the iMeiv (due next year), simply due to consumer psychology: "I will buy a Hybrid just in case I need to drive 200km unannounced one day", even though an EV has an efficiency gain by not hauling around two motors.

Assuming BAU, of course.

Once people get used to the idea that they can drive for a month without turnng on the ICE, they'll mentally move towards EVs, but the physical shift won't begin to happen for another five years (when these Camry's etc start being traded in).

The Camry will be a much more versatile car than the micro i-miev and a lot cheaper if some of the price points I've heard are accurate.My guess is that we won't see EV's until 2020 by which time nobody will ba able to afford them.

A Hybrid is indeed more verasatile, but if the battery pack is large enough, people will get used to the idea of never filling the tank up (just plugging in at home and charging off-peak). Five years from now (when mass trade-ins start), is 2015, so I suspect we're in the same ballpark as to the timing (assuming BAU).

The Camry is not a PHEV though or is it? i know that there are conversions done on the Prius to make it a PHEV but you would be hard pressed to get any warranty out of Toyota if you did this. I reckon a few Camry buyers would look into this but most will baulk at the cost.

I imagine that the price point for a factory produced PHEV is much higher than can be economically justified and marketing have said they won't be able to sell enough of them to justify the investment.

At some point we will run into diminishing returns on the transition from oil to electric vehicles and it will only be very high oil prices that make EVs relatievly attractive. The problem will be the shot economy which will mean very few can afford to either pay for petrol or buy an EV and will have to amke other less costly arrangements.