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Tue, Jul 24, 2007 - Page 10 News List

Toyota maintains global sales target

AP, TOKYO

Toyota is holding unchanged its global sales target of 9.34 million vehicles for this year despite worries about a sluggish Japanese market, the company president said yesterday.

Toyota Motor Corp, which this year for the first time ever beat General Motors Corp (GM) as the world's No. 1 automaker in global vehicle sales for the first half of the year, set that target late last year.

President Katsuaki Watanabe told reporters he was holding that number unchanged so far, although reviews were underway for all the regions.

"At this time, we have no plans to change them," he said at a Tokyo hotel.

Toyota's booming sales come at a time when it is seeing sales grow in the US and other global markets.

Soaring gas prices have made Toyota's fuel-efficient models popular, including its hybrid Prius and small cars Corolla, Camry and Vitz, also known as the Yaris.

Outlining the company's midyear strategy, Watanabe said Toyota will contribute more to efforts against global warming and pollution by working on new technologies, including plug-in hybrids.

Other automakers, including GM, are working on developing plug-in hybrids, which have batteries that power an electric motor, with an internal combustion engine for use when the batteries run low. The batteries can be recharged by plugging them into a standard wall outlet.

More common hybrids already in mass production, such as the Prius, switch between an electric motor and gas engine to deliver better mileage. They don't need to be plugged in to recharge because they recharge the motor as they run, converting the energy from the wheels and braking.

Toyota said in June sales of its hybrid cars had passed 1 million vehicles, a landmark for the automaker that started selling the Prius a decade ago and now dominates the hybrid market.

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