Toyota begins pre-production of Camry hybrid

The pilot production of the first Australian-built hybrid car began yesterday with the push of an oversized Power button in Altona, Melbourne.

The pilot production of the first Australian-built hybrid car began yesterday with the push of an oversized Power button in Altona, Melbourne.

Toyota Australia CEO Max Yasuda, Victorian Premier John Brumby and Industry Minister Kim Carr get the line rolling.
(Credit: Toyota)

Last year the Federal Government handed car giant Toyota AU$35 million to help support its plans to make 10,000 Camry hybrids each year at its Altona assembly plant. In this pilot phase a small number of Camry hybrids will be built to test assembly methods and work flows, as well as the car itself. Full scale production will begin in December this year, with cars going on sale in February 2010.

Like other Toyota hybrids, such as the Prius and various Lexus models, the Camry is a full hybrid that couples a petrol engine with an electric engine powered by a set of nickel-metal hydride batteries. Most of the time the petrol motor powers the front wheels, but at low speeds, when cruising or at a standstill, the car runs solely on electric power. The electric motor works in concert with the four-cylinder petrol engine when rapid acceleration is required; the batteries are recharged via regenerative braking when cruising downhill or coming to a stop.

Industry Minister Kim Carr said the Hybrid Camry was a significant step towards a greener, more sustainable automotive industry. He said the car would give Australians a choice if they prefer a hybrid. "This is a major achievement for Toyota Australia — this plant is one of only five Toyota plants in the world making hybrid vehicles," Senator Carr said.

Premier John Brumby said the move would boost the future of Victorian car manufacturing. "This is a major achievement — particularly in the current global economic climate — and a major vote of confidence for Victoria and our economy," Mr Brumby said.

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