Turning Up the Heat on Hybrid Cars
Japan's top automaker has gained a reputation as a "green" company with its popular Prius and other gasoline-electric hybrids, and is keen to see the technology take off globally.
After selling about 250,000 hybrid vehicles globally last year, Toyota is targeting sales of 400,000 units in 2006. It hopes to do this with the addition of versions of the Lexus LS and Toyota Camry hybrids--the two brands' flagship sedans.
"It is clear today that hybrid technology has moved solidly into the mainstream, especially among consumers who are environmentally aware and want to make a difference for future generations," Don Esmond, senior vice president at Toyota Motor Sales USA, said at the Camry hybrid's launch at the North American International Auto Show here this week.
Rivals sought to tone down the hype, citing the high cost of the cars to manufacturers and consumers and claiming "inflated truths" about vastly improved mileage. Hybrids put together a conventional combustion engine and an electric motor to save fuel.
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