First Toyota Camry Hybrid fueled by CNG. [xfloat=left]http://www.cleanmpg.com/photos/data/501/2009_Nat_Gas_TCH.jpg[/xfloat]Wayne Gerdes – CleanMPG – Nov. 19, 2008 2009 TCH at the real “gas” pump Toyota highlighted the 2009 TCH at this years LA Autoshow by showing a compressed natural gas (CNG) conversion concept. "In the near future, growing demand for liquid petroleum simply and effectively will exceed supply," said Chris Hostetter, group vice president, TMS Advanced Product Strategy. "Before that occurs, automakers must look to vehicles powered by alternative fuels. We believe CNG will be one of those alternatives." CNG’s benefits the US as a transport fuel due mainly to it being a locally sourced gasoline alternative. Not only can CNG potentially reduce our foreign oil dependence but with its ultra clean burning nature, it may even reduce vehicle operating costs. Currently more than 99 percent of natural gas used in the U.S. comes from domestic & other North American sources. Proven worldwide natural gas reserves are estimated to last until 2100 and have the potential to last until 2200 through improved advanced production methods. Natural gas also reduces both SMOG and Global Warming emissions with fewer particulate emissions, lower nitrous oxide (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2) and non-methane organic gases (NMOG), and less CO2 per unit of energy when compared with gasoline. In addition, CNG is quickly dispersed into the atmosphere, should a leak occur. The CNG Camry Hybrid concept had its gasoline fuel system completely replaced with a CNG system including two CNG tanks installed in the spare tire well area. Along with the fuel system conversion, the exterior of the vehicle received some touches of its own. Along with the the front fascia and bumper cover molded to eliminate the top grill opening, the vehicle is fitted with larger alloy wheels and its ride height reduced. Speaking with those on the show floor, the underflow air intake was enough to allow the concept to be driven but full viability tests have not been completed. Meaning, extreme high temepperaures may be a problem for this conversion concept. On a positive note, the CNG powered TCH’s range was spec’ed at 280 miles and its mpg equivalent was similar to the conventionally powered TCH. The CNG conversion concept is preliminarily rated at 32/34/33 city/highway/combined on the 08 EPA vs. the conventionally powered TCH’s 33/34/34 mpg ratings. Trunk space as in all TCH’s is at a premium and reduced even further while making room for the two 3,600 pound CNG tanks. The vehicle as shown is the only CNG powered Camry Hybrid on the planet that we know of.