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Published on September 24th, 2008 | by Alex Felsinger

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Toyota Looks to Embrace Natural-Gas Hybrid Cars

A decade after their first unpopular attempt at a natural-gas vehicle, Toyota says they are looking to CNG for the future.

[social_buttons]High gas prices have made natural-gas vehicles more desirable, but Honda is still the only major carmaker currently offering a CNG vehicle. While their car is only available in California and New York, Honda says they can’t keep their Civic GX in stock due to popularity, and plans to build 2,000 more for 2009. Toyota wants some of the pie.

Come November, Toyota will debut its CNG-electric hybrid Camry at the Los Angeles Auto show, but the company has not yet decided to put the vehicle into production.

At a conference this week in Portland, Oregon, Toyota cited data showing that oil production is declining, while natural-gas is still abundant to make their case for natural-gas vehicles. CNG has also been hailed by T. Boone Pickens as one of the most important solutions to America’s energy crisis.

Like electric vehicles, natural-gas cars are great for commutes, but long trips might be hard. There are very few natural-gas refueling stations open to customers in the US, meaning that many drivers can often only fill up at home.

Photo Credit: Rockershirt on Flickr under Creative Commons license.

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About the Author

is primarily concerned with animal welfare, wildlife conservation, and environmental justice. As a freelance writer in San Francisco, he leads a deliberately simplistic and thrifty lifestyle, yet still can’t help gawking at the newest green gadgets and zero-emission concept cars.



  • mpgomatic

    FYI: The Civic NGV isn’t just available in California and New York.

  • mpgomatic

    FYI: The Civic NGV isn’t just available in California and New York.

  • http://www.greenenergytv.com Pete

    I saw a video of these cars on GreenEnergyTV.com and they have sections on hybrids, fuels, solar cars, etc. The link is http://www.greenenergytv.com/Browse/Hybrids.aspx

    Very cool!

    Pete

  • http://www.greenenergytv.com Pete

    I saw a video of these cars on GreenEnergyTV.com and they have sections on hybrids, fuels, solar cars, etc. The link is http://www.greenenergytv.com/Browse/Hybrids.aspx

    Very cool!

    Pete

  • Rick

    natural gas taxis make sense. how about natural gas hybrid taxis

  • Rick

    natural gas taxis make sense. how about natural gas hybrid taxis

  • http://theenergyroadmap.com Garry G

    My humble opinion here would be that natural gas is much more likely to end up fueling electric propulsion systems by tapping their hydrogen content– and that we’re not going to transition to CNG for combustion.

    With the recent announcements (GM, Chevy, Renault, BYD, et al) on shifts to electric motors suggests we are seeing the beginning of the end for the combustion engine. I wonder about the return on investment with retooling for natural gas powered vehicles. I think we’re done trying to improve the ‘buggy whip’ and ready for the next propulsion system- electric motors.

    No doubt it will take at least a decade to get serious traction on electric propulsion – and for batteries & H2 fuel cells to drop in cost. It will take time. But Toyota seems hesitant to let go of the combustion engine.

    Natural gas has a bright future ahead… but not sure it’s best used in combustion engine systems.

    Love your site too! Big fan…

    Garry G

    Editor,

    The Energy Roadmap.com

    http://www.theenergyroadmap.com

  • http://theenergyroadmap.com Garry G

    My humble opinion here would be that natural gas is much more likely to end up fueling electric propulsion systems by tapping their hydrogen content– and that we’re not going to transition to CNG for combustion.

    With the recent announcements (GM, Chevy, Renault, BYD, et al) on shifts to electric motors suggests we are seeing the beginning of the end for the combustion engine. I wonder about the return on investment with retooling for natural gas powered vehicles. I think we’re done trying to improve the ‘buggy whip’ and ready for the next propulsion system- electric motors.

    No doubt it will take at least a decade to get serious traction on electric propulsion – and for batteries & H2 fuel cells to drop in cost. It will take time. But Toyota seems hesitant to let go of the combustion engine.

    Natural gas has a bright future ahead… but not sure it’s best used in combustion engine systems.

    Love your site too! Big fan…

    Garry G

    Editor,

    The Energy Roadmap.com

    http://www.theenergyroadmap.com

  • http://www.ngvaeurope.eu Peter Boisen

    The use of NGVs is growing exponentially in most parts of the world and there are now over 9 million vehicles in use worldwide. Argentina, Brazil and Pakistan each have more than 1.5 million NGVs, Europe close to 1 million. In Europe the majority of the sales consists of factory produced vehicles (several dozen models on offer) whereas conversions still account for the lion share in other parts of the world. Different types of hybrid solutions will, of course, also be included in future offers of veheicles powered by natural gas or biomethane, and it stands to reason that Toyota, the world leader concerning offers of hybrid cars, should be one of the first companies to offer NG powered hybrid solutions. Fiat and Hyundai are two other car companies which aready during 2008 have shown NG powered NG concept cars including hybrid solutions.

    Natural gas is a fuel used not only in light duty vehicles, but also in heavy duty trucks and buses. In Europe all but one of the major OEM manufacturers of heavy duty engines and vehicles include NG versions of their vehicles in their offer. Also in the USA the sales of heavy duty NGVs are growing at a fast rate whereas the Detroit has been slow in developing offers of NG powered cars for the American market. In Europe, on the other hand, there is no problem getting hold of a modern NG powered GM (Opel) or Ford car.

  • http://www.ngvaeurope.eu Peter Boisen

    The use of NGVs is growing exponentially in most parts of the world and there are now over 9 million vehicles in use worldwide. Argentina, Brazil and Pakistan each have more than 1.5 million NGVs, Europe close to 1 million. In Europe the majority of the sales consists of factory produced vehicles (several dozen models on offer) whereas conversions still account for the lion share in other parts of the world. Different types of hybrid solutions will, of course, also be included in future offers of veheicles powered by natural gas or biomethane, and it stands to reason that Toyota, the world leader concerning offers of hybrid cars, should be one of the first companies to offer NG powered hybrid solutions. Fiat and Hyundai are two other car companies which aready during 2008 have shown NG powered NG concept cars including hybrid solutions.

    Natural gas is a fuel used not only in light duty vehicles, but also in heavy duty trucks and buses. In Europe all but one of the major OEM manufacturers of heavy duty engines and vehicles include NG versions of their vehicles in their offer. Also in the USA the sales of heavy duty NGVs are growing at a fast rate whereas the Detroit has been slow in developing offers of NG powered cars for the American market. In Europe, on the other hand, there is no problem getting hold of a modern NG powered GM (Opel) or Ford car.

  • Satish K Batta

    What took so long. Gas vehicles have been running in Asia and Europe for the last few years. India has been running world’s biggest fleet of public transport in Delhi for the last few year. It is time Toyota came out with gas.electric vehicle.

  • Satish K Batta

    What took so long. Gas vehicles have been running in Asia and Europe for the last few years. India has been running world’s biggest fleet of public transport in Delhi for the last few year. It is time Toyota came out with gas.electric vehicle.

  • Michael Shannon

    Its good that there is interest, but where is the financial support?. This technology could easily replace the existing unhealthy institutions with much needed economy boosting power. We could even export products to other countries to help balance our trade deficit. Old fashioned yes, but good ideas die hard. It is unusual for the greed machine not to recognize a bubble to be made and exploited. As soon as they remove the stops, the dollars will roll in that direction. It may be that fear is still hindering the progress of better technologies by the investors f the World. Fear of some other persons success perhaps?. Typically until the established companies can control the new trends, they will be shy to endorse and embrace competitive technologies. When there is a conscious effort by we consumers and not just emotional based response, good technologies will be still be conceptually supported by the many and not be funded by the wealthy few. I hope it all happens before its too late to somewhat easily reverse the damage done by the inefficient industries that supported unhealthy devices. Thank goodness tomorrow is still another day either way.

  • Michael Shannon

    Its good that there is interest, but where is the financial support?. This technology could easily replace the existing unhealthy institutions with much needed economy boosting power. We could even export products to other countries to help balance our trade deficit. Old fashioned yes, but good ideas die hard. It is unusual for the greed machine not to recognize a bubble to be made and exploited. As soon as they remove the stops, the dollars will roll in that direction. It may be that fear is still hindering the progress of better technologies by the investors f the World. Fear of some other persons success perhaps?. Typically until the established companies can control the new trends, they will be shy to endorse and embrace competitive technologies. When there is a conscious effort by we consumers and not just emotional based response, good technologies will be still be conceptually supported by the many and not be funded by the wealthy few. I hope it all happens before its too late to somewhat easily reverse the damage done by the inefficient industries that supported unhealthy devices. Thank goodness tomorrow is still another day either way.

  • Frank Mondi

    This seems to be the solution – an electric natural gas hybrid and WE all hope that this car will be available in November as indicated, hopefully with the Stanford and MIT university developing iron – manganese batteries with silicon wires embedded that will hold 1o times the charge of any present batteries-be able to be charged in minutes and have a 400 MILE DRIVING RANGE ON A SINGLE CHARGE. It would be very easy to place natural gas tanks at every goline station with a rent to buy option and rayalities paid to gasoline stations along with fill units at every house supplied with natural gas. Of course, this is all premised on the rich and powerful allowing us cattle to have such an automobile.

  • Frank Mondi

    This seems to be the solution – an electric natural gas hybrid and WE all hope that this car will be available in November as indicated, hopefully with the Stanford and MIT university developing iron – manganese batteries with silicon wires embedded that will hold 1o times the charge of any present batteries-be able to be charged in minutes and have a 400 MILE DRIVING RANGE ON A SINGLE CHARGE. It would be very easy to place natural gas tanks at every goline station with a rent to buy option and rayalities paid to gasoline stations along with fill units at every house supplied with natural gas. Of course, this is all premised on the rich and powerful allowing us cattle to have such an automobile.

  • Richard Clinton

    I am driving my 2nd Honda Civic CNG and I am very pleased with it. I travel all over Northern CA and live in the Bay Area, and so far the only place I haven’t been able to drive to is Mendicino, because the last fill up station is Santa Rosa, and it’s only a 3000 PSI station. I am retiring in Jan 10 and hope the new CNG Hybrid Camry fro Toyota has a capacity of at least 400 miles on a tank, since I want to travel cross country. From my research so far, there are CNG stations all the way on the southern route.

  • Richard Clinton

    I am driving my 2nd Honda Civic CNG and I am very pleased with it. I travel all over Northern CA and live in the Bay Area, and so far the only place I haven’t been able to drive to is Mendicino, because the last fill up station is Santa Rosa, and it’s only a 3000 PSI station. I am retiring in Jan 10 and hope the new CNG Hybrid Camry fro Toyota has a capacity of at least 400 miles on a tank, since I want to travel cross country. From my research so far, there are CNG stations all the way on the southern route.

  • Umam Rafique

    CNG driven cars are rolling in Bangladesh for last 6 years. We just insert a additional gas tank in the back trunk. It weight about 64 kg we need a extra suspension for support the suspension cost only BDT 1500. We run every kind of petrol vehicles in CNG. We run trucks, coach, suv and privet cars like toyota corolla x, toyota ALlION, nissan blue bird, etc. If we can run on CNG why toyota or nissan cant make it. Almost 80% of vehicle in Bangladesh run in CNG.

  • Umam Rafique

    CNG driven cars are rolling in Bangladesh for last 6 years. We just insert a additional gas tank in the back trunk. It weight about 64 kg we need a extra suspension for support the suspension cost only BDT 1500. We run every kind of petrol vehicles in CNG. We run trucks, coach, suv and privet cars like toyota corolla x, toyota ALlION, nissan blue bird, etc. If we can run on CNG why toyota or nissan cant make it. Almost 80% of vehicle in Bangladesh run in CNG.

  • Shelton Jack

    I live in central WV where the MARCELLUS natural gas is thick. If Toyota is going to make natural gas cars, investing in natural gas seems like a good ideal. We the land owners have hundreds of thousands of acres, you can lease and drill. This will give you good incentive to make more less pollution friendly cars. If the Toyoya Co. is interested email me. you can have your cake and eat it to.

  • Shelton Jack

    I live in central WV where the MARCELLUS natural gas is thick. If Toyota is going to make natural gas cars, investing in natural gas seems like a good ideal. We the land owners have hundreds of thousands of acres, you can lease and drill. This will give you good incentive to make more less pollution friendly cars. If the Toyoya Co. is interested email me. you can have your cake and eat it to.

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