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NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

Toyota may think small on next hybrids to fight off Honda

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Toyota may think small on next hybrids to fight off Honda

08:49 AM

Toyota, long the leader in hybrids, may be planning to take them into smaller, cheaper cars, starting with the Yaris subcompact.

HybridCars.com, citing a story this week in the Mid-Japan Economist newspaper, says that Toyota will produce a hybrid version of the Yaris at its plant in France for the European market. It could go on sale in Europe and Asia first -- but it's hard to imagine that the U.S. would get left out.

A hybrid Yaris would allow Toyota to fight off new, small, cheap hybrids from Honda. Not only does Honda have the Insight, which is cheaper than Prius but has fared poorly in the U.S. market, but the new CR-Z two-seater as well. Both are priced below $20,000.

It could be a tough fight:

Hybrids cost substantially more than other gas-saving technology, like the turbochargers that Ford Motor has been installing in much of its lineup. Unless gas gets substantially more expensive, it's hard to imagine a big increase in hybrid sales.

HybridCars.com says Toyota's small-car hybrid plans go beyond Yaris. It is reportedly working working on a hybrid version of the Toyota Etios, a compact car for the Chinese and Indian markets. And it recently introduced the Lexus CT200h, a small sporty luxury hybrid, in the U.S.

link:

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/driveon/post/2010/09/toyota-could-expand-hybrids-into-yaris-to-fight-off-honda/1

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