Toyota Motor Corp. introduced the "Sai" a hybrid luxury sedan. The new vehicle, which will go on sale only in Japan from December 7, is a compact sedan with a 2.4-liter engine and fuel economy of 23 kilometers per liter, against 38 kpl for the third-generation Prius.
It is the second Toyota-brand vehicle that is available only as a hybrid, after the Prius.
"If it does not carry a hybrid engine, a sedan of this size would require twice as much fuel," said Shigeru Nakagawa, Toyota's project manager.
"When people driving a luxury car want to be more environmentally friendly, they may want a slightly more upscale vehicle than the Prius," he said.
The Sai will have a price tag starting from 3.38 million yen (US$37,225), against 2.05 million yen for the Prius.
Toyota aims to sell some 3,000 Sai vehicles a month. It sold 31,758 Prius vehicles in September, helped by government tax breaks and subsidies for fuel-efficient vehicles.
Toyota said last month that global sales of its hybrid vehicles had topped the two-million mark since their launch in 1997. It also sells a Lexus sedan that is available only as a hybrid.
The company announced on Oct. 20 that it had begun selling the new Prius hybrid in South Korea, along with its best-selling Camry and the RAV4 sports-utility vehicle. Until now Toyota has sold only Lexus brand models in South Korea, where the car market is dominated by domestic producers such as Hyundai Motor.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009