From: Reuters
Published January 13, 2008 07:43 PM

Toyota to launch diesel Tundra, Sequoia in U.S

DETROIT (Reuters) - Toyota Motor <7203.T> President Katsuaki Watanabe said on Sunday the Japanese automaker will launch a diesel-powered Tundra pickup truck and Sequoia SUV in the United States soon, in an about-face to its hybrid-centered product strategy.

Toyota, which likely unseated General Motors Corp <GM.N> as the world's biggest automaker last year, has repeatedly hesitated to committing a diesel vehicle for the U.S. market, which is slowly warming to the fuel-efficient drivetrain, especially for use in larger vehicles.

"I am happy to confirm that a new clean-diesel V8 engine will be offered in both the Tundra and the Sequoia in the near future," Watanabe told a news conference at the North American International Auto Show.

The diesel vehicles were one way to meet new fuel economy regulations agreed by the U.S. Congress that require a fleet average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020, Watanabe said.


He added that Toyota will also expand its hybrid line-up by launching world premieres of two all-new, dedicated hybrid models - one for Toyota and one for its luxury Lexus brand - at next year's Detroit auto show.

"We will not wait until the deadline to comply (with the fuel economy standards)," Watanabe said. "I have issued a challenge to our engineers to meet the new standard well in advance of 2020."

Toyota, which brought the world the first mass-produced gasoline-electric hybrid, has a goal of selling 1 million hybrid cars a year soon after 2010. In the 10 years since the launch of the first-generation Prius in late 1997, Toyota sold 1.25 million hybrid cars.

At the press conference, Toyota also unveiled a new hybrid pickup truck concept called A-BAT, which stands for the Advanced-Breakthrough Aerodynamic Truck.

Toyota is due to unveil another concept, the Venza, on Monday.

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