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Automakers Unveil Plans for More Hybrid Models

January 6, 2004

The number of fuel-efficient hybrid models available in the United States will more than double in the next year, to seven from three, with new entries coming from Toyota, Honda and Ford Motor, according to the New York Times (NYT).Two of the new vehicles were announced at the North American International Auto Show. But the news from Japanese automakers was hardly all green. They are redoubling their efforts to take on the Big Three in the market forpickup trucks, the NYT reported.Toyota, for example, unveiled a gigantic pickup truck prototype, called the FTX. Honda, the only one of the six largest automakers in the United States market that does not sell a pickuptruck, said on Sunday that it would build its first pickup truck by 2005, the NYT said.The industry overall remains mixed on the prospects for hybrids, which improve fuel economy and reduce emissions by supplementinginternal combustion engines with electric motors. "I'm just not a blind monk of hybrid technology," said Carlos Ghosn, the chief executive of Nissan, adding that the technology was still too expensive to be profitable or a good value for buyers. Nissan plans to sell a hybrid version of its Altima in 2006, but Ghosn said it would not be profitable.
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