Toyota Motor Corp. plans to double the number of models that use hybrid engines to six by about 2006, including sport utility vehicles,
President Fujio Cho said June 17, according to Bloomberg News.
Toyota, which has sold 140,000 cars with engines driven by a combination of gas and electricity since 1997, plans to release a larger, faster and cleaner version of the Prius
hatchback later this year, according to Cho.
"We will release hybrid sport-utility vehicles in the next two to three years," Cho told Bloomberg News in a television interview at Toyota's fifth environmental forum in Tokyo.
According to Bloomberg News, the maker of the Harrier/RX330 SUV needs to expand its model range and cut prices to attract more customers in the $2.5 billion hybrid vehicle market, which Credit Suisse First Boston Japan Inc. expects to triple by 2006.
The Prius now costs about $3,000 more than a
gasoline-engine car. "To make their green cars successful there are two main objectives, which are meeting emission regulations and offering
lower prices," said Masayuki Kubota, who helps manage the equivalent of $8.5 billion at Daiwa SB Investments Ltd. "Once they are met, sales of
hybrids will surge."