Toyota won't offer a 'cheap car'

Planned minicar will cost 9,000 euros in Germany

Cologne. Toyota does not plan to compete on price against Renault's Logan or the Ford Ka Student, which will both be sold in Germany for less than 8,000 euros.

"Toyota does not do cheap cars," said Markus Schrick, vice president of Toyota Deutschland GmbH. "Quality and safety are our priorities."

The new Aygo minicar will cost "around 9,000 euros" when it is launched in Germany on July 1.

In addition, Schrick said that in 2005 Toyota Deutschland wants "consolidation and not growth." Toyota aims for a 3,000-unit sales increase in Europe's largest market this year. The Toyota division increased 2004 sales 15.2 percent to a record 127,019 units and achieved a market share of 3.9 percent, up 0.5 percent from 2003.

Schrick thinks it will be difficult to "compete with rivals' aggressive activities" in a the sluggish German market.

The sales slowdown should last only until 2006, said the former Audi sales manager. He expects a big unit-sales increase next year with the introduction of the new-generation Yaris and RAV4 models.

Toyota's luxury brand Lexus is expected to grow 20 percent this year to 3,000 units in Germany. The new GS medium-premium sedan debuts April 15, the RX 400h hybrid SUV arrives in June and the IS lower-premium model, which will compete against the segment-leading BMW 3 series, will be launched in November.

The 272hp RX 400h will head the Lexus offensive. Two prototypes of the SUV have been on tour in Germany, visiting Lexus dealer road shows. Lexus General Manager Frank Winter said, "People were enthralled. We already have more than 200 advance orders."

Lexus wants to have a hybrid model for each model series.

Schrick's goal for Lexus in Germany is to sell 10,000 cars a year by 2010.

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