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Toyota aims for 40 percent jump in global hybrid sales

From Reuters| January 25,2007

Toyota Motor Corp. said today it is aiming for a 40 percent jump in its global sales of gas-electric hybrid vehicles to 430,000 units this year.

Japan's top automaker said it also aims to boost domestic production of Prius hybrid cars by 40 percent to 280,000 units.

In 2006, Toyota's hybrid sales rose 33 percent from a year earlier to 312,500 units.

Hybrids, particularly Toyota's Prius, have gained in popularity among environmentally conscious Americans, in part due to high gasoline prices.

Accounting for about 1 percent of new car sales in the United States, a hybrid couples a traditional internal combustion engine with an electric motor allow for lower gasoline use.

Toyota has forecast its group -- including Hino Motors Ltd. and Daihatsu Motor Co. -- will sell 9.34 million vehicles in 2007, up 6 percent from an estimated 8.80 million units last year.

Toyota last November formed an equity tie-up with truck maker Isuzu Motors Ltd. in a bid to catch up in clean diesel, a rival technology to its signature hybrid system. In 2005, it took a stake in Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., partly as a way to quickly add production capacity in North America.

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