Submitted by peter on 19 March, 2008 - 20:59.
According to reports coming out of Singapore, Yasuyuki Kawamoto, the chief engineer of the Thai assembled Corolla Altis, has said that Toyota would be assembling the Camry Hybrid in Thailand.
Currently only available in the US, the gas-electric Camry Hybrid would be good news for the Thai industry which is currently all about crude one-ton pick-up trucks. And although this will change next year with the arrival of the cheap (and hopefully cheery) eco-cars, but Hybrid technology would represent a "high-tech" step forward for the Thai motor industry.
Apparently we can expect Thai assembly of the Camry Hybrid within the life of the current model, which was launched two years ago. This would mean that the Camry Hybrid would run out in the next 3-4 years.
Toyota is still testing the Thai market for Hybrid technology and before we start getting excited and thinking of local production of the Prius, it is worth pointing out that the hybrid-drive system will come in from Japan. This means that the 105-kilowatt motor and battery pack, as well as the drive system and electronics for the hybrid system will come from Japan. Local assembly will reduce the required understanding of these systems to the black-box level.
The sight of a few more hybrid cars on the road will be a good thing though, and hopefully will boost awareness and thinking to shift in the direction of alternatives. I don't see "hybrid" as being the answer, but any options are worth exploring, and in the short-term, there aren't that may options. Expect to see the Hybrid Camry in Thailand in the next few years, with the 3rd generation Prius to follow? We'll see.