U.S. Market Will See More Hybrid Cars From Toyota

Toyota plans to expand its hybrid offerings in the U.S. as it struggles to meet demand for its popular Prius car, Toyota Motor North America president Jim Press said July 19.

"Early next year, we'll offer a sixth one, the world's first V-8 (engine) hybrid in our flagship Lexus LS sedan," Press said during a speech at the National Press Club. "And more will follow." Press signaled that Toyota, which has also started selling a hybrid sports utility vehicle (SUV) in the U.S. market, is now firmly targeting the luxury end of the market with its dual-powered technology.

Press said that Toyota has sold more hybrid vehicles in the U.S. so far this year than Cadillac, Buick, or Mercedes Benz has sold cars.

Press said hybrid technology can be offered in multiple ways to boost fuel efficiency, citing gasoline engines, clean diesel, bio-diesel, ethanol, plug-in hybrids and hydrogen fuel cells. "Toyota is (also) strongly considering introducing a flex-fuel vehicle program in the U.S. in the near term," Press said. "We're already developing vehicles that can operate in ethanol-rich Brazil and we're optimistic that we can offer similar vehicles to American consumers."

He said Toyota was also researching the potential of a plug-in hybrid vehicle that could be driven further without using its gas engine. Press said Toyota's philosophy was not only to build more efficient cars, but to also manufacture cars that are less polluting and safer to drive.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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