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Toyota Camry Hybrid Pilot Production Begins

Toyota Camry Hybrid Pilot Production Begins (copyright image)

Pilot production of the Camry Hybrid began,
in Melbourne, Monday 31st August 2009.

Home > News > Toyota

1st September, 2009

Australia's first locally produced hybrid car is now on the way.

Toyota Australia yesterday marked the start of pilot production of the fuel-efficient Hybrid Camry with a ceremony at the company's Altona plant in Melbourne's west.

Toyota Australia's president and chief executive officer Max Yasuda, senior executive director sales and marketing David Buttner and executive director manufacturing and purchasing Tatsuo Shinozaki were present, amongst others.

In the pilot production phase, Toyota produces a small batch of vehicles to test all its processes, parts and assembly methods.

Full-scale production is due to begin in December and Camry Hybrid will go on sale in February next year.

Mr Yasuda said Toyota led the world in hybrid vehicles and was committed to remaining at the forefront of innovation and environmentally friendly technology.

He said introducing hybrid technology in Toyota's local manufacturing was one of the most significant developments in the company's 50-year history in Australia.

"This has the potential to change the automotive landscape forever," Mr Yasuda said.

Mr Yasuda said Toyota was working towards a sustainable local automotive industry that supported jobs, innovation and, ultimately, a prosperous low-carbon society.

"This aligns with Toyota's global strategy to accelerate the roll-out of eco-friendly vehicles."

"A practical demonstration of this is the introduction of new Hybrid Camry here at Altona."

Toyota plans to produce at least 10,000 Hybrid Camrys per year for the domestic market and 300 per year for export to New Zealand.

"The strong support of both the Federal and Victorian Governments was a critical factor in our ability to secure Hybrid Camry for local production," Mr Yasuda said.

"They helped Toyota Australia to make a convincing business case."

"A vital element was the strong desire of both levels of government to introduce new environmentally friendly technology and promote innovation within the Australian automotive industry."

The support of Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan was a great vote of confidence in the ability of the Australian company.

"It demonstrates that our manufacturing operations can compete with the best in the world."

"We have responded to the needs of Australian motorists by introducing fuel-saving and environmentally friendly technology as a mainstream option."

Toyota Invests For Hybrid Technology

Toyota has made a significant investment to bring hybrid technology to Australia, the company's president and chief executive officer Max Yasuda said today.

Mr Yasuda said Toyota Australia had introduced new high-tech equipment into many production processes to raise quality even higher, increase productivity and improve logistics.

"Several areas throughout the Altona manufacturing facility are completely new or have been totally reconfigured to accommodate hybrid production," he said.

"We have re-engineered many of our manufacturing processes to improve ergonomics, specifically for the installation of hybrid components."

"Another key part of our investment in Hybrid Camry is the training of our people to ensure we deeply understand the specific techniques involved in manufacturing a hybrid vehicle."

Toyota Australia has sent engineers and team leaders to Toyota plants in Japan, Thailand and the United States.

Local engineers have extensively reviewed sample cars from Japan and the United States.

"This is fundamental to our goal of building in quality and devising the most efficient production method."

"Our local Technical Centre has been involved in the engineering and design aspects of this vehicle."

"The 3,200 people here at Altona are already responsible for the best-quality locally built cars - and very soon, they will add Hybrid Camry to their list of capabilities."

"Toyota is fortunate to have people of the highest calibre - a skilled, flexible and passionate workforce."

"We have also received great support from our suppliers, who understand what it takes to remain at the cutting edge of this business."

"We expect their involvement in Toyota's hybrid technology to grow over time."

Camry Powered By Hybrid Synergy Drive

Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive technology is at the 'heart' of Hybrid Camry.

The technology makes the most efficient use of two power sources - a petrol engine working together with an electric motor.

Toyota Australia's senior executive director sales and marketing David Buttner said Hybrid Synergy Drive turns Camry into a next-generation, fuel-efficient vehicle.

"It will help the environment as well as the hip pockets of Australian motorists."

"It will produce lower and cleaner emissions - and is certainly far better for the environment than a comparable diesel car."

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"It will mean fewer trips to the petrol bowser, cutting costs for motorists and lowering the demand for oil."

"When conditions are appropriate, Hybrid Camry will run on the electric motor alone - using no fuel and creating zero emissions."

Mr Buttner said hybrid technology is a key part of Toyota's and Australia's motoring future.

Toyota is planning to introduce eight new hybrid models in the next four years.

All this means Toyota's commitment to hybrid is absolute - and the hybrid future definitely includes Australia.

Toyota already has more experience with hybrid technology than any other car maker.

"We have been working on hybrids for more than 40 years - long before the arrival of air bags, anti-skid brakes and climate-control air-conditioning," he said.

The global target is to offer a hybrid version of every model in Toyota's range by the 2020s.

Hybrid Battery Lasts Life Of The Vehicle

Toyota's proprietary nickel-metal hydride batteries in Prius and upcoming Camry Hybrid have been designed to last the life of the vehicle.

Toyota has sold more than 13,000 Prius hybrid vehicles in Australia and the performance of the batteries has been outstanding.

Toyota Australia's product planning manager, Ashley Edwards, said several Prius taxis have been driven for more than 350,000 km on the original battery - equivalent to more than 20 years of normal driving.

"We have only had to replace a handful of batteries for mileage-related reasons - and they had all done more than 400,000km," Mr Edwards said.

The battery used in a hybrid car is different from the small batteries used in normal cars and mobile phones.

Hybrid car batteries are built for maximum stamina so that they have sufficient power to keep the car and motor running steadily at high-speed revolutions.

The three main things that shorten battery lifespan are:
Substantial amounts of heat, which requires a cooling system
Being completely drained of power
Being charged up to 100 per cent in normal operation

That does not happen in a Toyota hybrid because the battery can be charged by the generator whenever the car is in motion.

The battery-charging computer controls the traction batteries to maintain a state of charge between 40 to 80 per cent - not too little and not too much.

This means the battery's lifespan is lengthened and the battery does not have to be changed.

Electronic control components will last for roughly the lifespan of the car.

Mr Edwards said many people worried unnecessarily that electronic controls were more complicated and more likely to break.

"With fewer mechanical parts to wear out, they're actually much less likely to break," he said.

As part of its actions to reduce the environmental impact of all its cars, Toyota is involved in activities to reduce waste and recycle materials as much as possible.

In Prius, for example, 98 per cent of the battery is recyclable.

"In Australia, we have had a recycling process for the hybrid battery for almost eight years - ahead of the local launch of Prius in 2001," Mr Edwards said.

"The locally produced Camry Hybrid, which goes on sale early next year, uses the same type of battery as in Prius - nickel-metal hydride."

"Toyota dealers are the central collection points for batteries, which are then transferred to certified Toyota recycling partners in Australia and overseas at no additional cost to consumers."

The recyclers used by Toyota Australia are certified to ISO14001.

The battery's plastic, metal and copper wire are recycled locally, while circuit boards and battery elements are exported for recycling.

Recycling requirements have been provided to customers, emergency services, automobile clubs and industry bodies including the Auto Parts Recyclers Association of Australia.

Roadside assistance and emergency services have also been instructed how to handle hybrid vehicles, for example, in the case of an accident.

Hybrid Systems

There are basically three types of hybrid system: series, parallel and the combination of both, the series-parallel system used by Toyota.

The series hybrid drivetrain is the simplest hybrid configuration because the electric motor is the only means of providing power to get your wheels turning.

The motor receives electric power from the battery pack, which is charged by a generator powered by a small on-board internal combustion engine or by using plug-in technology.

The engine is typically small and the battery pack has to be powerful enough to provide peak driving power needs.

As there is no mechanical connection between the engine and the drive system, a series hybrid hauls around a petrol engine that isn't available to directly propel the car.

Right now, there are no automotive series hybrids in mass production.

Series hybrids have been around for a long time in non-automotive applications.

In fact, for at least the last 50 years, railway locomotives have been series hybrids, with huge diesel engines driving generators that provide the electrical power that turns the locomotives' wheels.

With a parallel hybrid, both the engine and the electric motor generate the power that drives the wheels.

The addition of computer controls and a transmission allow these components to work together.

This is the technology in the Honda hybrids, called Integrated Motor Assist.

The engine is the main power source, while the motor assists with acceleration; in other words, the motor is there to help the engine.

Unlike Toyota's system, the petrol engine is unable to charge the battery and propel the car at the same time.

Parallel hybrids can use a smaller battery pack and therefore rely mainly on regenerative braking to keep it recharged.

However, when power demands are low, the motor can act as a generator for supplemental recharging, much like an alternator in conventional cars.

As the engine is connected directly to the wheels, it eliminates the inefficiency of converting mechanical power to electricity and back, which makes these hybrids quite efficient on the highway.

Yet the same direct connection between the engine and the wheels that increases highway efficiency compared with a series hybrid does reduce, but not eliminate, the city driving efficiency benefits.

In other words, the engine operates relatively inefficiently in stop-start driving because it is forced to meet the associated widely varying power demands.

The series-parallel hybrid system in Prius and the upcoming Hybrid Camry combines the best elements of these two systems.

Toyota refers to this technology as Hybrid Synergy Drive.

The petrol engine can drive the wheels directly and it can also be effectively disconnected from the wheels so that only the electric motor powers the wheels, saving fuel and cutting emissions.

Toyota Prius has made this concept popular.

As a result of the dual drivetrain, the petrol engine operates at near optimum efficiency more often.

The vehicle can run on just the motor or on a combination of engine and motor power for efficient driving.

At lower speeds, it operates more as a series hybrid vehicle.

At high speeds, or in situations with high power demands where the series drivetrain is less efficient, the vehicle operates more like a parallel hybrid.

In this situation, the internal combustion engine takes over and any excess energy is stored in the battery for future use.

The stored energy can also be used to provide extra power in tandem with that provided by the petrol engine.

This system incurs higher costs than a parallel hybrid because it needs two motor/generators, a larger battery and more computing power.

However, Hybrid Synergy Drive has the potential to perform better than either of the other systems alone.

In Prius and Camry Hybrid, an electric motor is used for start-up and for low to mid-range speeds.

In normal cruising, both the engine and an electric motor drive the wheels.

Power allocation is controlled to ensure the best efficiency.

As necessary, the generator also recharges the battery from surplus engine power.

Under hard acceleration, the battery supplies additional energy to boost drive power, while the engine and motor provide smooth acceleration response.

When the driver brakes or slows down, the motor acts as a generator, driven by the car's wheels - providing regenerative braking.

It recovers the kinetic energy that is normally lost as heat, converts it into electricity and stores it in the battery.

The petrol engine automatically switches off when the car is stationary or coasting, which saves fuel and reduces exhaust emissions.

Neither Prius nor Camry Hybrid requires special training to drive - they operate like normal cars.

The blended series-parallel approach of Hybrid Synergy Drive makes more sense to Toyota than the alternatives.

Toyota's Hybrid Milestones

1997 Mar Unveiling of the Toyota Hybrid System
Dec Prius launched in Japan
2000 Nov Cumulative Prius sales top 50,000 vehicles
2001 Dec Prius launched in Australia
2002 Mar Cumulative worldwide sales of hybrid vehicles top 100,000
Aug Cumulative Prius sales top 100,000 vehicles worldwide
2003 Apr Unveiling of the Toyota Hybrid System II
Sep Prius completely redesigned
Oct Second-generation Prius launched in Australia
2004 Jan Prius wins North American Car of the Year award
Nov Prius wins European Car of the Year award
2005 Oct Cumulative worldwide sales of hybrid vehicles top 500,000
2006 Apr Cumulative Prius sales top 500,000 vehicles worldwide
2007 May Cumulative worldwide sales of hybrid vehicles top one million
2008 Apr Cumulative Prius sales top one million worldwide
June Toyota announces it will manufacture Hybrid Camry in Australia
2009 Jan Third-generation Prius unveiled at Detroit Motor Show
May Prius becomes the best-selling vehicle in Japan (also in June and July)
July Third-generation Prius launched in Australia
July Prius sets an all-time monthly sales record in Australia
Aug

Pilot production of Hybrid Camry begins in Australia

Ten Hybrid Facts

1. Hybrid Camry and Prius have specially designed four-cylinder petrol engines working in tandem with an electric motor. The combination boosts performance, reduces fuel consumption and produces fewer emissions.

2. The petrol engine automatically switches off when the car is stationary (such as at traffic lights) or when coasting or travelling downhill.

3. Hybrid Camry and Prius recharge themselves while driving. You never have to plug them into a power point.

4. Energy that would normally be lost when braking or coasting is converted to electricity and stored in a sealed battery, for use when required.

5. Hybrid Camry and Prius can be driven for short distances on electric power only. This is particularly useful in stop-start traffic, for eliminating emissions in your garage and for quiet entry or exit through your neighbourhood.

6. In all other respects, Hybrid Camry and Prius are fully specified normal cars capable of seating five adults comfortably. They drive like regular automatic cars, use unleaded petrol and have large luggage capacities.

7. Toyota has adopted numerous safeguards, including automatic disablement mechanisms to ensure safety in the event of an accident. Prius hybrids have been on Australian roads for eight years and Toyota is not aware of any personal injury related to hybrid or electrical systems.

8. The hybrid battery is designed to last the 'life' of the vehicle. It is kept at an optimum charge level, which gives it an extended life.

9. Toyota is the world leader in hybrid vehicles with sales approaching two million. The one-millionth Prius was sold in April 2008. Total Australian sales of Prius have exceeded 13,000.

10. Toyota is committed to developing hybrid systems as a core technology. Globally, the goal is to reach one million hybrid sales per year during the 2010s. The company's worldwide goal is to approach zero impact on the environment, including vehicles and production. While Toyota can never achieve zero impact, the company will strive to do better - and hybrid technology is an important part of that effort.


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