TOKYO -- Toyota Motor Corp. will assemble hybrid vehicles in the United States, Akihiko Saito, executive vice president in charge of production, has confirmed.
The company had said it was considering U.S. hybrid production, but now it is official.
"There would be no question that we'll do that," Saito said at a press event on Dec. 21.
He declined to say which hybrids will be assembled in the United States.
Toyota is expanding its hybrid lineup. The Lexus RX 400h hybrid goes on sale April 15, and the Toyota Highlander hybrid goes on sale in June.
Toyota officials in the United States have confirmed that the company will sell a six-cylinder hybrid version of the Lexus GS sedan in 2006. Toyota has tentative plans to sell an eight-cylinder hybrid version of the Lexus LS sedan in 2007 or 2008.
The next-generation Toyota Camry also will have a hybrid version, the company says. It probably will go on sale after the standard version arrives in the 2007 model year.
The Prius hybrid, already a hot seller, is a strong candidate for U.S. assembly. "We're considering (U.S.) production of hybrid vehicles, including the Prius," says a Toyota insider.
Meanwhile, at the press event, Toyota said it expects its global sales in 2005 to reach 8.03 million units. Its 2006 goal is 8.5 million. Toyota's global sales include subsidiaries Daihatsu Motor Co. and Hino Motors Ltd.
Toyota is closing in on the world's No. 1 automaker, General Motors. In 2003, GM sold 8.59 million vehicles worldwide.
The robust outlook gets support from healthy U.S. operations. The world's second-largest automaker estimates that U.S. sales in 2005 will rise about 5 percent to 2.15 million, more than one-quarter of the global sales estimate. c
Staff Reporter Mark Rechtin contributed to this report
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