March 2, 2007 / 5:43 PM / 11 years ago

Toyota developing plug-in hybrid, researching market

DETROIT (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp. (7203.T) is working on developing a plug-in hybrid vehicle and is open to joining with other automakers in battery development, the president of its North American operations said on Friday.

Toyota, which leads the market in hybdrid sales, has not detailed plans to build a plug-in, although some environmental groups have modified its top-selling Prius hybrid so that it can be recharged with an electrical outlet.

    “We are doing consumer research right now as well as product development,” Toyota North America President Jim Press told Reuters in an interview, when asked about plug-in hybrid development.

    Press added the biggest challenge would be developing the next-generation battery, which Toyota is now working on internally. “We would be quite open to any kind of sharing,” Press said of a possible alliance on battery development with other automakers.

    Press also said Toyota would not be opposed to buying existing plants from other automakers as it expands its capacity in North America.

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