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Toyota to build hybrid, E85 cars


June 9, 2008

Toyota to build hybrid, E85 cars

Toyota Motor Corporation is set to start producing hybrid cars and vehicles that run on E85 (85% ethanol and 15% petrol) in Thailand amid growing demand for the fuel-efficient vehicles in the wake of record high oil prices, a Japanese business daily reported Saturday.

The Japanese auto giant plans to make the Toyota Camry Hybrid later this year in Thailand and in 2010 in Australia by using existing production lines for its standard Camry model there, the Nikkei business daily said.

Toyota aims to lift its production of hybrid vehicles to 10,000 units within three to four years at each plant, the newspaper said.

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The Japanese automaker was the pioneer of hybrids, which deliver power by switching between a regular engine and an electric motor. Hybrids have proven a hit, particularly in North America, at a time of skyrocketting oil prices.

Toyota introduced the hybrid in 1997. Production is largely in Japan, although it has also made them in the United States and China.

Toyota's hybrid output jumped 25 percent to 430,000 units in 2007 and is expected to soar to one million units in the early 2010s.

In Thailand, the car maker’s local unit Toyota Motor Thailand expects to start marketing its first E85-fuelled vehicles according to the company’s vice chairman Ninnart Chaitheerapinyo.

He welcomed the government’s tax incentive of 25 percent on small E85 vehicles, saying that the rate was reasonable as the cost to assemble an eco-car is 50,000-100,000 baht higher due to better fuel efficiency.

Thai government is promoting the manufacture of so called eco-cars, which are expected to meet strict fuel economy specifications, running for at least 20 kilometres on one litre.

Vehicles using the blend of 85-percent ethanol and 15-percent petrol would consume about 30 percent more fuel but motorists would save money since ethanol feedstock, mainly molasses and tapioca, can be locally sourced.

Meanwhile, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. plans to launch an eco-friendly electric vehicle based on its subcompact small car in Japan next year, Nikkei said.

Annual output is estimated at 2,000 cars at the start and will be raised to 10,000 in 2011, it said.

Exports are to start in 2010 to Britain, France and other parts of Europe as well as to Australia, Singapore and the United States, it added.

Sales of eco-friendly cars have been rising not only in Japan and the United States but also in developing countries in Southeast Asia.

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