TOKYO (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp plans to begin producing a hybrid version of the Yaris subcompact at its factory in France in the business year starting next April, the Mid-Japan Economist newspaper said.
The gasoline-electric Yaris, called Vitz in Japan, will be sold in Europe, the paper, owned partly by Toyota, reported without saying where it obtained the information.
A Toyota spokeswoman said the automaker could not comment on future product plans.
A year ago, France’s La Tribune newspaper ran a similar report citing Toyota’s plans to build a small hybrid car at its Valenciennes factory, which builds the Yaris subcompact. A spokesman at the time had denied that such a plan was under consideration.
Hybrid cars have been a tough sell in Europe, which prefers diesel engines to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Toyota has said it plans to add the hybrid option across its entire lineup by around 2020, but has not announced plans for a gasoline-electric Yaris/Vitz.
Rival Honda Motor Co is due to launch a hybrid version of competing subcompact Jazz/Fit in the coming months, with plans to unveil the Jazz hybrid at the Paris motor show this month.
Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Michael Watson
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