UPDATE 2-Toyota lays out big green-car push with hybrids, EVs

* Plans 11 new hybrids by end of 2012

* One hybrid model to be a compact getting more than 40 km/l

* Targets sales of more than 50,000 plug-in Prius annually

* Considering EV launch in China, road trials in 2011

* Market reaction muted, shares rise but underperform index
(Adds analyst, executive comments)

By Chang-Ran Kim, Asia autos correspondent

TOKYO, Nov 18 (BestGrowthStock) – Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T: ) unveiled
big plans for staying in front in clean-car technology as rivals
race to play catch-up, saying it would launch 11 new hybrids and
a rechargeable Prius that may cost as little as $36,000.

Having dominated the hybrid field for over a decade with the
iconic Prius and 13 other models so far, the world’s top
automaker has won a reputation as the most advanced car maker in
next-generation technology.

But with governments tightening environmental and fuel
economy standards, competitors are turning up the heat with new
technologies including battery electric cars and “range
extenders” such as General Motors’s [GM.UL] Volt, which generates
electricity on-board with a gasoline engine.

Toyota said one of its 11 new hybrid cars to be rolled out by
the end of 2012 would be a compact with fuel efficiency exceeding
40 km/litre (94 mpg) measured under Japanese test cycles — the
highest for a gasoline-electric model.

Investors showed little immediate reaction to Toyota’s
announcement, limiting its shares’ gains to 1.4 percent in Tokyo
compared with a 2.2 percent rise in Tokyo’s main index (.TOPX: ).

“The news is neither positive nor negative in my opinion,”
said Fumiyuki Nakanishi, a manager at SMBC Friend Securities.

“Toyota had a lead with the Prius, but the Chevrolet Volt
will likely grab attention at GM’s listing later today. Like
Nissan’s Leaf, attention is also shifting towards electric
vehicles, and in the eyes of stock investors, hybrids might seem
rather inferior.”


Building on its hybrid technology, Toyota said it would begin
selling a Prius-based plug-in hybrid by early 2012 mainly in
Japan, the United States and Europe, targeting sales of more than
50,000 units a year.

The car, which unlike a conventional hybrid can be plugged in
to enable longer-distance driving using only electricity, is
expected to cost as little as 3 million yen ($36,000) in Japan,
Toyota said. GM has priced its Volt at $41,000, while Nissan
Motor Co’s (7201.T: ) all-electric Leaf will start at 3.76 million
yen before subsidies.

Smaller car makers meanwhile, have poured much of their
efforts into improving internal combustion engines, with Mazda
Motor Corp (7261.T: ) planning to launch a subcompact gasoline
model next year that gets fuel economy of 30 km/litre —
equivalent to Honda Motor Co’s (7267.T: ) Fit hybrid car in the
same segment. [ID:nTOE69J03O]

With $23 billion of cash on hand, Toyota is among the few car
manufacturers able to spend on research and development across
the range of technologies.

“Energy-related policies are difficult to predict and vary
depending on governments,” Toyota Executive Vice President
Takeshi Uchiyamada told the news conference.

“To prepare for all the possibilities, Toyota will take a
holistic approach, with hybrid technology at the core of our
strategy,” he said.

In the field of battery electric vehicles, which Nissan and
its French partner, Renault SA (RENA.PA: ), are aiming to lead,
Toyota confirmed it would begin selling a model based on the tiny
iQ in the United States, Japan and Europe in 2012, initially
targeting urban commuters. It expects annual sales to start off
at a few thousand units.

Toyota is also considering launching electric cars in China,
the world’s biggest car market, with road trials planned in 2011.

Further out, Toyota said it would begin selling fuel-cell
vehicles, which are also all-electric but run on hydrogen fuel,
in the same three markets from around 2015.

Their high cost are a hurdle, but Toyota said it expected to
be able to offer the sedan for under 10 million yen — about
one-tenth of what the zero-emission vehicle cost at the beginning
of the decade.

Toyota is also working on developing next-generation
batteries in-house, an ambition that had been held by the group’s
late founder, Sakichi Toyoda.

Having established a separate battery division in January
with about 100 researchers, Toyota said it had made some progress
towards creating a full solid-state battery in a compact package,
as well as determining the reaction mechanism of lithium-air
batteries. Application of such batteries, however, is still
decades away, executives said.
(Additional reporting by Aiko Hayashi; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

UPDATE 2-Toyota lays out big green-car push with hybrids, EVs