As competition to build greener cars heats up, the world's top automaker Toyota Motor plans to launch six new hybrid models by the end of 2012, a spokesman for the company said on Sept. 14.
The six planned models will expand Toyota's hybrid-engine range of vehicles that run on gasoline and electricity at a time when rivals such as Nissan are developing all-electric vehicles.
The Wall Street Journal, citing a Toyota official in Detroit, said that the six new hybrids would include two luxury brand Lexus vehicles and four Toyota models.
Some will be hybrid models only -- like the Prius -- while others will also have a gasoline-engine variant, the report said. All of the hybrids will be new and not next-generation versions of existing models.
Toyota's Prius hybrid has been a success for the carmaker, particularly in Japan where the compact vehicle has topped the country's best-seller list since May 2009. It is now looking to compete with rivals in the increasingly competitive environmentally friendly market.
Nissan's all-electric Leaf vehicle, which has a top speed of more than 90 miles per hour and is powered by a lithium battery, will go on sale later this year. The Leaf -- which stands for Leading, Environmentally Friendly, Affordable, Family car -- is billed by Nissan as the world's first mass-produced electric vehicle with zero emissions.
Nissan hopes electric vehicles will boost growth and compete with Mitsubishi Motors' i-MiEV and Fuji Heavy, which makes the Subaru Plug-in Stella.
Toyota will also unveil a fully electric version of its RAV4 sport-utility vehicle, developed with its U.S. partner Tesla, at the Los Angeles auto show in late November, the spokesman said on Sept. 14. Tesla and Toyota announced a partnership in May to develop electric vehicles using technology from the California-based start-up.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010