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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Toyota Looking to Increase New Car Types in China

The Wall Street Journal

Toyota Motor Corp. (TM) plans to test launch its plug-in hybrid vehicle in China soon and is also considering a new model aimed at the country's small-sized, low-priced market segment within five years.

The plans, disclosed Friday by Toyota officials at the Beijing Auto Show, come as the Japanese carmaker works to regain customer trust after it recalled millions of cars globally due to safety concerns and defects.

China, the world's largest auto market, is a growth area for Toyota's sales.

The Japanese company sold 709,000 vehicles in 2009 in China, up 21% on year. For 2010, it is targeting a 13% growth in sales to 800,000 vehicles. Sales in the first two months of this year grew 43% on year to 117,000 vehicles.

Takeshi Uchiyamada, Toyota's executive vice president, said the company wants to introduce its plug-in hybrid cars on a trial basis to the Chinese market as soon as possible.

Gas emission regulations are expected to become stricter in China, which last year toppled the U.S. to become the world's biggest auto market.

Meanwhile, Masahiro Kato, president of Toyota Motor (China) Investment Co., said the Japanese automaker is considering a new, small, low-priced car for the Chinese market. He hopes to bring it to market in five years.

In January, the automaker issued a recall notice for 75,552 RAV4 sport-utility vehicles in China due to faulty gas pedals.

Toyota has said that this month's fresh recall of SUVs due to problems with the stability control system doesn't affect the Chinese market.

Toyota is striving to regain customer trust by fixing problems with 8.5 million vehicles in China, the U.S., Europe, Japan and other regions as early as possible and enhancing quality control.