TOKYO (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp 7203.T plans to produce 100,000 units a year of a new hybrid-only model slated for release in 2009 at a subsidiary in southern Japan, the Nikkei business daily reported on Saturday.
The new car, which will be Toyota’s second dedicated hybrid model after the hot-selling Prius, will have a 2- to 2.5-litre engine and will also be sold under the company’s luxury Lexus brandname, the paper said.
Toyota Motor Kyushu Inc, in Fukuoka prefecture, currently builds a gasoline-electric hybrid version of the Toyota Harrier sport utility vehicle, sold as the Lexus RX outside Japan, as well as the Highlander SUV.
Hit by sinking demand for fuel-thirsty SUVs and pickup trucks, Toyota this month announced a big overhaul of its North American manufacturing structure which included a plan to build the Highlander at a truck factory in Indiana from late 2009.
Toyota Motor Kyushu will make adjustments to its factory to switch production from the North America-bound Highlander to the new hybrid model, the Nikkei said.
Toyota aims to sell at least 1 million hybrid vehicles annually in the early part of the next decade -- more than double what it sold last year.
Toyota has said it would showcase a new hybrid model under both the Toyota and Lexus brand names at the annual Detroit auto show next January.
Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim; editing by Clarence Fernandez
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.