TOKYO (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp plans to produce a gasoline-electric version of its Auris hatchback at its British factory around 2012, in what would mark its first locally produced hybrid car in Europe, an industry daily said.
The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun said, without citing a source, that The Auris was due for a full remodeling around 2012, and Toyota would offer a hybrid version for production and sale locally in Europe, where diesel engines are popular.
A spokeswoman said Toyota could not comment on future product plans.
The Auris, part of the popular Corolla series, was Toyota’s third-best-selling model in Europe during the first five months of this year after the Yaris and Aygo subcompact models.
Days after taking the helm at the company founded by his grandfather, President Akio Toyoda said last month that the world’s biggest automaker would be more selective in utilizing its resources, dropping a strategy of becoming a full-line maker in all regions.
One example of that was to focus on offering hybrid vehicles in Europe, Toyoda said, implying that it may drop a plan it shelved earlier to cooperate with affiliate Isuzu Motors Ltd to beef up its diesel line-up for Europe.
Toyota builds most of its hybrid vehicles in Japan, but also produces a small number of Prius cars in China and the Camry hybrid in Kentucky. It has already announced plans to also begin production of the Camry hybrid in Thailand and Australia, and the Prius in Mississippi.
Toyota has a goal of selling at least 1 million hybrid vehicles a year within the next few years and has said it would offer the hybrid option on all of its models around 2020.
Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Joseph Radford
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