Is Toyota about to unveil the Camry Hybrid in India?
Toyota was the first manufacturer in India to promote environmentally friendly vehicles with the Prius, and they now intend being the only manufacturer in India to add a second car to that green portfolio with the Camry Hybrid!
The obvious question is, why Hybrid? Honestly, we could not think of a reason why, because neither the Prius nor Honda's Civic Hybrid managed to gain much traction in our market. The Camry itself is making no headlines.
The only reason we at OVERDRIVE believe the Camry Hybrid is being launched in India is that this is part of a larger global directive, wherein Toyota wants to be seen as one of the foremost players in a greener, more environmentally friendly automotive market. It's a social statement, not necessarily something that will get numbers for Toyota. Toyota Kiroloskar Motor officials, however, could not be reached for comment.
So what does the Camry Hybrid have to offer? To begin with, it will look a little different from the Camry we know presently. Exterior differentiators will include the front grille, headlamps and fog lamps. It might also get the larger 17" wheels and tyres that come standard with the Camry Hybrid across the globe, though don't expect that change to make the car look like it's got better ground clearance; the change will be minute. One more indicator that this Camry is the Hybrid version will be the badging on the rear. Overall, the exterior looks very sophisticated and distinguished, enhancing the already attractive design package.
Hybird badging on the rear distinguishes this from a regular Camry
Inside, there will be more significant changes. The dashboard, for one, will look very different. The wood finish is replaced by standard plastic and leather trim. The seats get upholstered differently and they look good. The steering wheel may not have the wood finish on it either. The instrument panel is one area where the changes will be subtle, but it will indicate charging status of the battery, drivable range and a host of other information. Otherwise, in terms of features and spec, the Camry Hybrid is identical to the standard petrol car sold in India.
Onto the drivetrain then: the Camry Hybrid is a electric/petrol hybrid, a system Toyota calls the "Hybrid Synergy Drive", the badge for which we saw earlier in the Prius too. It uses an electric motor to complement the internal combustion inline 4-cylinder petrol engine under the hood. The Camry Hybrid runs in one of three ways; fully electric, fully petrol or a combination of both.
Camry Hybrid dash loses the wood finish in favour of traditional black mastic and leather
The Camry Hybrid offers an electric version of the 2.4-litre engine, designated 2AZ-FXE. The petrol engine produces 148PS with 187Nm of torque. The 650-volt electric motor generates 142PS of max power and 270Nm of max torque. Together they provide 191PS of max power though torque figures aren't provided. This power plant is mated to an electronic continuously variable transmission (e-CVT) and the petrol engine employs an Atkinson cycle to enhance fuel efficiency, which is the principal role of this engine.
The nickel hydride battery pack used by the electric motor is mounted in the trunk. It adds about 135 kilos to the overall kerb weight of the car, but the increase in torque offsets this. OVERDRIVE will be driving the car in August and despite the increase in weight, we expect it to be quicker than the existing Camry. Toyota, in fact, claims acceleration to be 15 per cent quicker!
Other fuel efficiency enhancements include a water-cooled EGR system. This cools the exhaust gases, which are then rerouted to the intake to control emissions. Low rolling resistance tyres are present, reduced transaxle losses and better motor control in addition to an ECO mode that reduces air-conditioning output, all contribute to improved efficiency.
Structurally, the Camry Hybrid has a redesigned front subframe to accommodate the additional weight of the electric motor, as well as a remodelled rear and centre floor to accommodate the battery pack. Aerodynamic efficiency measures such as a new mud flaps - or what are known as wheels spats - and an underbody pan has dropped the drag from 0.28 to 0.27 cd.
The Nickel Hydride battery pack is attached to the cross-member behind the rear passenger seats
Overall, the Camry Hybrid makes a very compelling statement for the executive segment, especially since it targets those looking for the premium-ness of an executive saloon without upsetting the green brigade. For us, the balancing act it will provide between better fuel efficiency and better performance sounds exciting. But let's keep our horse reined in; the drive should be coming up, hopefully, in just a month or so and we will have a full drive report on the Camry Hybrid then.
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