From: Kyodo News International, Tokyo
Published February 2, 2005 12:00 AM

Toyota to Launch World's 1st Hybrid Luxury Vehicle in U.S.

Feb. 2—NEW YORK — Toyota Motor Corp. said Tuesday it will launch the world's first luxury hybrid sport utility vehicle, the Lexus RX 400h, in the United States in April, following a delay caused by soaring demand from environmentally conscious consumers.

"The RX 400h will open a new era in luxury vehicles, setting a new benchmark for luxury SUV performance and environmental compatibility," said Denny Clements, Lexus group vice president and general manager.

Toyota says the RX 400h has been certified by the California Air Resources Board as a "super ultra low emission vehicle," the state's toughest gasoline vehicle emission standard.

Toyota notified its Lexus dealers last November that the RX 400h, known as the Harrier in Japan, will go on sale April 15 instead of early this year.

Toyota President Fujio Cho said in Detroit last month that Toyota will start producing hybrid car models in the United States in 2006.

Toyota expects that its hybrid car sales in the United States in 2005 will exceed 100,000 units, or double its 2004 figure. The automaker plans to launch hybrid SUVs in addition to the Prius sedan.

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