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TOYOTA DEVELOPING
10 MORE HYBRID VEHICLES

Toyota Motor Corp.said on Wednesday it will introduce 10 more gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles by the early part of the next decade and boost its worldwide sales of the fuel-sipping models to 1 million units a year.

The world's second-biggest automaker aims for hybrid vehicles to account for at least 25 percent of its US sales in the same time period, Jim Press, Toyota's US president and chief operating officer, said on the sidelines of an auto conference in this northern Michigan resort.

"We have 10 hybrids under development right now," Press said, adding that they will all be launched by early next decade.

The automaker had initially set a goal of selling 300,000 hybrid vehicles per year globally by this year or next, and has said previously that it aimed to boost that to 1 million units.

"At our current rate of sales, that's about 600,000 hybrids in the US" Press said in a speech. "To achieve that goal, we will have to look at offering hybrid power systems in virtually all our vehicles, including trucks."

The future models include already-announced hybrid versions of Toyota's best-selling Camry sedan and Lexus GS sedan, Press said, declining to reveal the other models that are under development.

Toyota, which has sought to burnish its image as an environmentally friendly or "green" automaker, has enjoyed robust US sales growth. It has been driven by popular models including the Prius gas-electric hybrid car, which has seen increasing demand in the face of high US gasoline prices.

US sales of the Prius were up 92 percent at 9,691 vehicles in July. Toyota also sold 2,564 hybrid versions of its Highlander sport utility vehicle, which hit dealerships in June, and 2,262 Lexus RX 400h luxury SUVs. The Lexus hybrid SUV was launched in April.

Toyota said in May it would produce a hybrid version of the high-volume Camry sedan at its assembly plant in Georgetown, Kentucky starting late next year.

Written by: Planet Ark

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