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Hmmm... I wonder if they're looking at the high end or low end of their product line? A car more inline w/ a Supra replacement, or a Celica replacement?

Thursday June 22, 4:54 AM

Toyota eyes developing hybrid sports car

(Kyodo) _ Toyota Motor Corp. is considering developing a hybrid sports car in a bid to meet consumer needs of a "speedy but fuel-efficient" car amid soaring gasoline prices, Toyota officials said Wednesday.
The Japanese auto giant intends to promote a hybrid sports car "on a global scale," they said.

As part of its efforts to promote sporty-type vehicles, Toyota is planning to add a luxury sports-utility vehicle to its lineup next year.

According to Wednesday's editions of the Wall Street Journal, the new model is "going to be a global project, not one aimed at one region more than another. The concept is a hybrid," Tokuo Fukuichi, the head of Toyota's ED2 design center in southern France, was quoted as saying in an interview.

With more sporty cars under its brand, Toyota wants to target German luxury-car makers such as BMW AG, DaimlerChrysler AG's Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen AG's Audi AG, said Shinzo Kobuki, Toyota managing officer in charge of development of hybrid systems, according to the paper.

The company's planned launch of a sports car under the Toyota brand within the next few years will draw on its investment in its Formula 1 motor-racing team.

"The sports car will come, but I don't know exactly when. Since we stopped production of the Celica and the MR2, there's a gap in that end of our range where we don't get the full impact of our participation in Formula 1," the Journal quoted Masahide Yasuda, president of Toyota France, as saying.

Toyota joined the Formula 1 racing series in 2002 in a bid to boost the mass-market manufacturer's brand image.
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