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Toyota to delay Japan plug-in Prius launch to winter from autumn

A man walks past a Toyota Motor Corp logo at the company's showroom in Tokyo, Japan June 14, 2016. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

TOKYO (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp 7203.T said on Wednesday that it would delay the Japan launch of its plug-in Prius gasoline hybrid model to winter, from an initial schedule of autumn.

The automaker declined to give a reason for the delay or be more specific about the timing.

A spokesman said it would reduce initial production of the model, although output would eventually pick up according to demand.

Previously, Toyota had said that it would begin sales of the plug-in version in Japan in autumn, and that the model would become available in North America and Europe around late autumn.

Sales of the standard version of the fourth-generation Prius, the forefather of the “eco car”, have been sluggish in the United States since it went on sale around February, as low gasoline prices have ramped up demand for gas-guzzling SUVs and pick-up trucks.

Meanwhile, it has been the best-selling model in Japan since the start of the year.

(This version of the story corrects headline and first paragraph to say launch delayed in Japan, not globally; also clarifies headline to say launch is for plug-in Prius)

Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu; Editing by Ryan Woo and Stephen Coates