If you've followed any of the news coming out of the 2009 SEMA Show, the mecca for modified cars, you may have seen that Toyota's display included a modified version of the Camry CNG Hybrid it showed last fall at the Los Angeles Auto Show.The Toyota Surfrider Camry Hybrid CNG, which pairs the classic Hybrid Synergy Drive system with natural gas propulsion, remains the sole alt-fuel hybrid we know of. But given that they've now shown it twice, in different guises, we wonder if Toyota might have a bigger commitment to CNG fuel than we knew.
Legislation to encourage use of compressed natural gas (CNG) in vehicles was introduced this spring in the U.S. Senate (tax credits for buyers of natural-gas vehicles) and House of Representatives (R&D and natural-gas hybrids). Given the current Congressional debate over health care, it hasn't progressed very far as yet.
Toyota Surfrider Camry Hybrid CNG displayed at 2009 SEMA Show
Toyota Camry Hybrid CNG concept car, shown at 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show
As for the show car, the formerly all-blue car now sports a green-and-blue wrap with Toyota and Surfrider logos courtesy of Street Image. Its "aggressive" bodykit features a custom front grill plus a unique rear bumper covering the tail pipe and exhaust system.
Ride height was lowered via an adjustable suspension, which lets the car hug the road on its 20-inch alloy wheels. Inside, custom Grey Suede and Black leather upholstery and interior lighting were added. To show off the alt-fuel aspect, the trunk has a viewing window to display the CNG fuel cylinders.
The Toyota Camry Surfrider CNG Hybrid uses twin CNG tanks in the trunk of a Camry Hybrid, whose gasoline 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and Hybrid Synergy Drive was adapted to run on it. The conversion was done by Metal Crafters, Fountain Valley, California.
Of the world's 10 million natural-gas vehicles, just 142,000 are on US roads. And you can buy only one NGV direct from a car dealer: the 2009 Honda Civic GX, of which roughly 2,000 are sold each year (more than half to fleets).
Natural gas offers the potential of reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil, since 99 percent of the natural gas used in the country today comes from domestic and other American sources.
To underscore the company's commitment to the environment, Toyota partnered with the Surfrider Foundation, which educates surfers and does beach cleanup programs. Toyota will donate a civilian version of the car to the foundation at the end of the show.