The first ever hybrid car to be built in Australia has been warmly received by early test drives and rumours from those inside the industry, however its real test is with the Australian public and fleet sales.
The family-sized Hybrid Camry uses the same technology found in the Toyota Prius, Hybrid Synergy Drive and delivers a respectable fuel economy figure of just 6.0 litres of regular unleaded petrol to travel 100km.
That figure makes it nearly 32 per cent more fuel efficient than the automatic petrol Camry, which incidentally already held the title for the most fuel-efficient Australian-built car.
Toyota says for someone travelling 20,000km a year in a Hybrid Camry, the savings on fuel alone will be 560 litres or $14 a week ($728/year) based on a pump price of $1.30 a litre. This jumps to $16 a week ($832/year) with fuel costing $1.50 a litre.
Of course the other reason you would consider the Hybrid Camry is its low CO2 emissions (142 grams/km), roughly reduced by almost 1.3 tonnes a year based on 20,000km a year of travel.
A Hybrid Camry can travel almost 300km more on a single tank of fuel than the Holden Commodore (which emits 55% more CO2 pollution) and almost 400km more than the Ford Falcon (which emits 66% more CO2 pollution) even though both Australian built cars have bigger fuel tanks.
Powering the Hybrid Camry a combination of a 2.4-litre petrol engine and 105kW electric motor resulting in a total power output of 140kW almost 20 per cent better than a petrol-only Camry.
"Hybrid Camry makes a compelling case for itself as an alternative to conventionally powered family sedans, consumers will get all the performance, space and comfort of a top-rated family sedan. At the same time they will get fuel economy that trumps that of petrol-powered light and compact cars. " Toyota Australia's senior executive director David Buttner said."It rates among the best diesels in its class for fuel economy, yet produces substantially less greenhouse gases and other harmful substances."We expect Hybrid Camry will achieve the maximum five-star rating on the Federal Government's Green Vehicle Guide compared with just 3.5 stars for the best of the mid-size or large diesels."Hybrid Camry is the future of Australian motoring. It brings hybrid technology to mainstream car buyers," Mr Buttner said."It will attract a significant number of people moving from a large six-cylinder car because they regard size and performance as important."Hybrid Camry provides a lot of automotive virtue, especially with prices under $40,000."
The Hybrid Camry is built at the company's Altona plant under the watchful eye of 3,200 employees.
"Our people have worked incredibly hard to bring this car to market just 20 months after the project was announced in Japan by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, this incredibly quick turn-around is possible because Toyota Australia is an integrated, self-sufficient company with capabilities in all areas from design and engineering through to manufacture and sales."
Toyota's cumulative global hybrid sales now exceed 2.2 million vehicles including 1.6 million Prius and more than 175,000 Hybrid Camry.
Expect a Review of the Hybrid Camry in the very near future.