From: Kyodo News International
Published December 19, 2005 12:00 AM

Toyota Starts Production of Hybrid Car Prius in China

TOKYO — Toyota Motor Corp. began producing its Prius hybrid passenger car Thursday in Changchun, Jilin Province, northeastern China, under a joint venture, the automaker said.

The start of production under Sichuan FAW Toyota Motor Co. marked the first overseas output of the more eco-friendly car, which runs on both gasoline and electricity, according to Toyota.

The joint venture between Toyota and China FAW Group Corp., China's No. 1 carmaker, intends to sell 3,000 units in 2006, it said.

The Chinese-built Prius will cost 288,000 or 302,000 Chinese yuan depending on the trim level.

Toyota, which is in a competition with European and U.S. rivals in the Chinese market, aims to expand its market share by promoting vehicles that are more eco-friendly than conventional ones as Beijing is encouraging local automakers to develop such vehicles under a new policy released in 2004.

In its new auto policy, the Chinese government said it aims to reduce fuel consumption of locally produced passenger cars an average 15 percent by 2010 from the 2003 level. The policy also features government support to automakers in developing hybrid vehicles.

In November, the Prius became the first hybrid vehicle to receive a vehicle registration certificate from the Chinese government under China's national hybrid vehicle certification system, which came into effect Oct. 1, Toyota added.

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Source: Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

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