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Topic # 201714 31-Aug-2016 09:31
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One of the replacement options I am considering for my venerable old Maxima is a Camry Hybrid. However I have just looked up some specs that quote its towing capacity as 300kg (unbraked and braked) and a tongue load of 30kg. Further research has yielded the fact that the standard Camry has a 500/1200kg capacity. The structure of the two versions is identical, so it would appear it is down to the powertrain. I discounted braking (due to regenerative differences) because there is no difference between unbraked and braked.

I can't find anything official but have seen the following forum discussions;

The eCVT gearbox is not strong enough to tow anything,

The 2.5l ICE is not powerful enough as it is optimised for hybrid operation,

Reverse gear is purely an electric motor operation and doesn't have the oomph to handle a trailer,

Towing will cause the battery to overheat or deplete because of the additional load, or

Toyota have decided that towing with a hybrid goes against the 'green' philosophy of the vehicle.

On the last point, the previous generation of Camry Hybrids arrived in Australia with zero towing capability and that was only changed grudgingly by Toyota when their Australian office pointed out that Ockers required their family saloons to have some sort of towing capability. Apparently, private towing just isn't done in Japan and you need a special licence to do so.

Is it possible that because of the battery the structure is somehow compromised? I wouldn't have thought so from a crash worthiness perspective. From the strength, durability and capability aspect I can't believe that a manufacturer would design a power train so weak as to not be able to cope with a towing load (in my case) that is no more than hauling 5 adults up a steep hill.
Am I assessing this correctly? The towing capacity is the gross weight of the article being towed?
My towing needs are limited to a light domestic trailer and even then probably no more than half a dozen times a year. But fuel savings from owning a hybrid would be quickly wiped out if I need to hire something every time I need to get a few planks of timber home from the local Bunnings (or pay for delivery).

Any Camry Hybrid owners out there care to share. Or any car geeks able to shine some light on the subject?




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  Reply # 1620094 31-Aug-2016 09:47
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The tongue load of 30kg seems very low - that's one bike rack and bike! Your average tongue can handle 50kg, and presumably this one isn't made out of sheet metal. This makes me wonder if it is an issue around vehicle balance rather than structural strength limits.

 

Normally a car would have a big chunk of metal (engine) in the front which acts as a counterbalance to weight on the tongue at the back (if you think of the car like a seesaw). Perhaps the weight of batteries/motors is spread more evenly throughout the car, reducing that counterbalance to 30kg. And then they have used the 10% of trailer weight on the tongue rule of thumb to work backwards to a 300kg limit?


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  Reply # 1620096 31-Aug-2016 09:55
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TBH if it cant tow 300kg, then I wonder what it would be like fully laden with 4 people in it.

 

 





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  Reply # 1620102 31-Aug-2016 10:07
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raytaylor:

TBH if it cant tow 300kg, then I wonder what it would be like fully laden with 4 people in it.


 



This.
So it makes me lean towards the 'green' theory.




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  Reply # 1620121 31-Aug-2016 11:38
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Jeremy Clarkson hacked into it?


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  Reply # 1620163 31-Aug-2016 12:39
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raytaylor:

 

TBH if it cant tow 300kg, then I wonder what it would be like fully laden with 4 people in it.

 

 

 

 

The issue is, the car fully laden with 4 people in it AND towing a trailer.

 

It's a drivetrain reliability/cooling constraint.


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  Reply # 1620193 31-Aug-2016 13:13
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Hmm. Is Camry hybrid same on the rear as Camry? Maybe it is a bit different to support and accomdate the battery pack.

Edit: obviously a lot of rear weight there also.

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  Reply # 1620222 31-Aug-2016 13:51
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Could be an axle weight thing. Where are the batteries located? I've known of some hybrids to use the back of the rear seats area for batteries.


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  Reply # 1620225 31-Aug-2016 13:58
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Ok, a quick look of the spec says folding rear seats, so the batteries aren't there.

 

However, a boot of only 420 litres (Compared to a Conmmodore 495 or new Civic 512) suggests the batteries are in the boot area, or failing that they'll be down the central tunnel space.


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  Reply # 1620227 31-Aug-2016 14:02
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WyleECoyoteNZ:

 

Could be an axle weight thing. Where are the batteries located? I've known of some hybrids to use the back of the rear seats area for batteries.

 

 

2015 models:

 

Regular: Curb weight, as tested (lbs.) 3,442. Weight distribution, as tested, f/r (%) 62.6/37.7

 

Hybrid: Curb weight, as tested (lbs.) 3,541. Weight distribution, as tested, f/r (%), 59.9/40.1

 

So the weight on the rear axle in the Hybrid is 644 kg unladen and in the regular is 589 kg.  There's not much in it.

 

However it strikes me that the whole electric drivetrain weighs more than a hundred pounds or so, there must be weight savings in the chassis/body to achieve the final curb weight.

 

 




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  Reply # 1620261 31-Aug-2016 14:41
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The service guy at the local toyota dealer that I spoke to was adamant that it is a transmission limitation. So I asked how towing a 500kg trailer (Std camry limit) along flat ground was different from hauling 400kg of adults up (or down) a steep hill. "It's different" was his only response. Not worth debating momentum, specific impulse, etc. And I guess he can't do anything other than toe the party line, as any advice to the contrary would make his company liable. I do however see the point made above about 4 adults and towing something up hill and down dale.
He did say they had had some hybrids in for repair that had been towing boats. That I can understand, because trailered boats can easily exceed normal car's towing limits, let alone one with greater restrictions on it. Pretty easy to overheat automatic transmission fluid or kill a clutch by towing something that has too much mass with a conventional powertrain as well.
Incidentally the Lexus range of hybrid sedans have ratings of 750/750 to 750/1500 (except the ES300h that I can't find a rating for). Doesn't the Lexus have the same eCVT system as the Toyotas? And both the RAV4 and Highlander Hybrids sold overseas (and purportedly arriving here next year) both have good towing ratings.

Is there no one here that owns a Camry Hybrid fitted with a bike rack.............. I mean towbar? :-/

Edit :correcting predictive text grrrrrrr




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  Reply # 1620265 31-Aug-2016 14:49
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Dingbatt: The service guy at the local toyota dealer that I spoke to was adamant that it is a transmission limitation. 

 

It's always a drivetrain limitation. Generally the lighter and more fuel efficient the vehicle, the less it can tow.

 

Vehicle's Gross-Combined-Weight-Ratings, (GCWR) or Gross-Combined-Mass (GCM) are generally set by how much the drivetrain can pull.
From that figure if you deduct the maximum permitted vehicle mass - the Gross-Vehicle-Weight-Rating (GVWR) - you're left the permissible trailer mass. On a Camry Hybrid there's not a lot left.

 

On most light vehicles the engine's maximum continuous torque output + the drivetrain's (transmission, axles, wheels & tires) capacity to transfer torque to the ground – and particularly the cooling systems' ability - are the over-riding engineering factors used to set the GCWR.

 

Brakes can be made bigger, chassis' and towbars stronger, but it all falls apart if you're going to cook the drivetrain on the first hill.
If Toyota allowed a GCWR that meant even 10% of them overheated towing up the Rimutaka's mid-summer they'd be in trouble.

 

Cars, utes, even commercial trucks, drivetrain capacity's usually the choke point.

We have 2 work utes (Exactly the same body, chassis & drivetrain, brakes, axle ratios - except for the engines).
The petrol one has a GCWR of 22,500 lbs, the diesel, 33,000 lbs – the sole difference is the diesel's increased torque capacity.
They'll easily manage much more, but the manufacturer gives a lot of leeway (the NZTA's silly towbar rules reduce trailer weight even further – but that's a different thing).


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  Reply # 1620286 31-Aug-2016 15:11
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My manual VY S Commodore has a lower tow rating than the equivalent automatic.  I believe it's all down to the manual gear box/clutch being able to deliver higher shock loads to the drive train than can be achieved with the auto.

 

I know on some vehicles, the Ford Ranger being one, the manual gear boxes are not designed for towing in top gear. The (usually) sixth gear cog is not robust enough. The Ranger at least has had a few gearbox failures due to towing. I think they're OK so long as you only use 4th and maybe 5th gear.

 

So there can be a multitude of reason why a vehicle is not suitable for towing, right down the the thorny issue of the clean green image. Don't get me started on the clean image of hybrid cars. 





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  Reply # 1620297 31-Aug-2016 15:24
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Clean image? What about towing plants and veggies with you wherever you go? That shouldn't exceed 300kgs?



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  Reply # 1620299 31-Aug-2016 15:36
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Sidestep:

Dingbatt: The service guy at the local toyota dealer that I spoke to was adamant that it is a transmission limitation. 


It's always a drivetrain limitation. Generally the lighter and more fuel efficient the vehicle, the less it can tow.


Vehicle's Gross-Combined-Weight-Ratings, (GCWR) or Gross-Combined-Mass (GCM) are generally set by how much the drivetrain can pull.
From that figure if you deduct the maximum permitted vehicle mass - the Gross-Vehicle-Weight-Rating (GVWR) - you're left the permissible trailer mass. On a Camry Hybrid there's not a lot left.


On most light vehicles the engine's maximum continuous torque output + the drivetrain's (transmission, axles, wheels & tires) capacity to transfer torque to the ground – and particularly the cooling systems' ability - are the over-riding engineering factors used to set the GCWR.


Brakes can be made bigger, chassis' and towbars stronger, but it all falls apart if you're going to cook the drivetrain on the first hill.
If Toyota allowed a GCWR that meant even 10% of them overheated towing up the Rimutaka's mid-summer they'd be in trouble.


Cars, utes, even commercial trucks, drivetrain capacity's usually the choke point.

We have 2 work utes (Exactly the same body, chassis & drivetrain, brakes, axle ratios - except for the engines).
The petrol one has a GCWR of 22,500 lbs, the diesel, 33,000 lbs – the sole difference is the diesel's increased torque capacity.
They'll easily manage much more, but the manufacturer gives a lot of leeway (the NZTA's silly towbar rules reduce trailer weight even further – but that's a different thing).



Thank-you. At last a concrete explanation of why this restriction is there. This is why I ask these type of questions of GZers. I want to know what the risk is, as one of the camrys I have looked at already has a towbar fitted. Best to stay away from that one I think!

This article references Toyota's reluctance to have any type capability at all, until pressed by Toyota AU.

http://www.carpoint.com.au/news/2010/medium-passenger/toyota/camry/towfree-hybrids-a-lifestyle-issue-toyota-18561



Can you expand on the NZTA's silly towbar rules a little?




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  Reply # 1620306 31-Aug-2016 15:47
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Technofreak:

 

My manual VY S Commodore has a lower tow rating than the equivalent automatic.  I believe it's all down to the manual gear box/clutch being able to deliver higher shock loads to the drive train than can be achieved with the auto.

 

I know on some vehicles, the Ford Ranger being one, the manual gear boxes are not designed for towing in top gear. The (usually) sixth gear cog is not robust enough. The Ranger at least has had a few gearbox failures due to towing. I think they're OK so long as you only use 4th and maybe 5th gear.

 

So there can be a multitude of reason why a vehicle is not suitable for towing, right down the the thorny issue of the clean green image. Don't get me started on the clean image of hybrid cars. 

 

 

 

 

They stick "dual mass flywheels" in manual transmission models, to reduce torsional vibration from the engine at low revs, for comfort but also to reduce strain on the gearboxes.

 

The rubber dampers crap out on the dual mass flywheels (DMF) when the clutch gets hot.  Then because the DMF cost about $3k to replace, some people replace them with solid flywheels so they don't crap out again.  Possible result, the gearbox craps out due to the torsional vibration exceeding design.  Even if under warranty when the DMF almost inevitably fails, then they might say it's a "wear part" like brake pads, so your problem, or you wrecked it by riding the clutch - also your problem.

 

Older tow wagons, Safaris, Landcruisers etc had 6 cylinder inline engines which are dynamically balanced unlike 4/5 and V6 engines, so less torsional vibration, or stronger gearboxes, no DMF, and owner expectation that there'd be a certain amount of vibration.  Vehicles of that older era, I'd much rather have a manual for towing.  New diesel 4WDs etc, I'd only consider autos.  Plenty of "issues" with BT50/Ranger, Amarok etc, DMF failures, some at low km from people using them for towing.  


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