Toyota to double hybrid output in 2011: report
TOKYO (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp aims to double its global output of gas-electric hybrid cars to 1 million units in 2011, as it fights to stay in the lead in the growing market for low-emission cars, the Nikkei business reported on Monday.
Toyota, the world's largest automaker, had said it aimed to sell 1 million models annually worldwide soon after 2010 and has been ramping up its push on hybrids, introducing the Sai sedan in Japan recently, the brand's second hybrid-only model.
Low emission hybrids have enjoyed strong sales thanks to generous subsidies and tax breaks. The Prius, Toyota's flagship hybrid, became Japan's best-selling car in 2009.
"For the foreseeable future, the focus of Toyota's (low-emission car) strategy will be on hybrids, not electric or fuel-cell cars," said Yoshihiko Tabei, chief analyst at Kazaka Securities, adding the production volume reported by the Nikkei was in line with his expectations.
"Except for Honda, Toyota is facing little competition in hybrids and is set to put distance between itself and other automakers."
Honda Motors produces a rival hybrid, the Insight, whose popularity has so far trailed behind that of the Prius.
Toyota plans to add about 10 new hybrid models in the next few years to its existing lineup and to increase the number of sites where it can assemble hybrid models, the Nikkei said without citing sources.
Toyota's global production of hybrid cars is likely to have been 500,000 units in 2009, accounting for about 8 percent of its overall production, the paper said.
Toyota has already expanded its hybrid production sites beyond Japan to include China, the United States, Thailand and Australia, typically receiving some form of state-backed incentives to build the fuel-efficient vehicles locally.
Shares of Toyota were down 1 percent at 4,160 yen as of 0200 GMT (9 p.m. on Sunday), compared with a 1.2 percent decline in the Topix index.
(Reporting by Taiga Uranaka; Editing by David Dolan)