July 19, 2006

Toyota announces plans to Pursue ‘Plug-In’ Hybrid & Flex-Fuel programs

Washington, D.C. – Jim Press, president of Toyota Motor North America, said on Tuesday that despite recent headlines, the U.S. automotive industry continues to be vibrant, citing global demand, demographic trends and a growing consumer desire for hybrid vehicles. He also pledged that Toyota would be proactive in helping government solve the major environmental and auto safety issues that confront America.

Press said Toyota is strongly considering introducing a flex-fuel vehicle program in the U.S. “We’re already developing vehicles that can operate in ethanol-rich Brazil and we’re optimistic that we can offer similar vehicles to American consumers.”

He said Toyota is also pursuing a plug-in hybrid vehicle that would be capable of traveling greater distances without using its gas engine, with the ultimate goal of conserving more oil, reducing smog and greenhouse gases to near zero emissions levels.

On hybrids, Press stressed the importance of moving technology forward. “Toyota is not backing off its strong commitment to hybrids. We know they are absolutely essential to the future success of this industry no matter what fuel we use or cars we drive.”

He said Toyota’s target is to offer hybrid options throughout its entire lineup of cars and trucks. To lower costs, the company is working toward reducing the size of components by 75 percent.

Currently, the company sells five Toyota or Lexus hybrids, including a Camry hybrid that will be built at its Georgetown, Kentucky plant. Next year, Press said Toyota would offer a sixth one, the world’s first V8 hybrid in a Lexus LS Sedan.

As good as hybrids are, he said, Toyota is not stopping there. Press said the dream of Toyota’s global president, Katsuaki Watanabe, is to create cars of the future that can travel across the U.S. on one tank of fuel, clean the air while they are being driven and prevent accidents and injuries.

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