Green Car Congress has a great post that sheds more light on Toyota's new 2007 Camry hybrid (coming out in May in the US), and a word (literally) on the direction that Toyota will take for the 2009 next generation Prius hybrid (to be sold in 2008). Dave Hermance, Chief Engineer for Environmental Issues at Toyota, explained that "although the Camry hybrid is a less radical economy hybrid than is the Prius, the Camry is an economy hybrid nonetheless." Since it is the first new hybrid by Toyota that will be able to compete with the Prius (the other Toyota & Lexus hybrids currently on the market - the rx400h and Highlander hybrid - are V6-powered and fall closer to the "muscle hybrid" category), it seems normal that the next Prius redesign will focus on making it distinctive. "Asked by Green Car Congress if the hybrid Camry’s introduction now paves the way for a redesign of the Prius with even more radical technologies, Hermance replied, 'Absolutely.'"According to Green Car Congress, the front grill of the 2007 Camry will be a way to distinguish the hybrid from the gas-only version. In the picture below, the one on top is the hybrid and the one on the bottom is the gasoline-powered model.
The 2007 Camry hybrid (earlier post), now scheduled to be released in May, uses a 147-hp version of the standard Camry’s base 2.4L engine, optimized to reduce the amount of energy which is wasted.
As with the Prius, the hybrid Camry’s engine uses Toyota’s version of an Atkinson-cycle engine, delaying the closing of the intake valves to create an engine with a high 12.5:1 expansion ratio paired with a conventional 9.6:1 compression ratio. [...]
Although most US-market Camry hybrids will be built in Toyota’s manufacturing plant in Kentucky, the first Camry hybrids sold in the US will be built in Japan. Toyota projects that up to 4,000 Camry hybrid will roll out of Kentucky every month, with an additional 4,000 per month available from Japan, if need be.
For more about the 2007 Toyota Camry hybrid, see our series of posts about it: ::2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid Official World Premiere, ::Unofficial Specifications for 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid, ::2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid to Debut In January, ::First Photos of Next Generation Toyota Camry 2007, ::More Photos of 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid, ::Toyota Camry Hybrid To Use 4-Cylinders Engine