|3rd April 2006, 00:04||#1|
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Toyota to produce low cost vehicles for emerging markets
My apologies to the Mods if this is in the wrong section.
A £2K car from VW. That is only RS160,000.00
Toyota to sell China cheapies
Dominic O'Connell, Nagoya
TOYOTA is planning to extend its dominance of the world car market with a range of low-cost vehicles aimed at emerging markets such as China, India and Brazil.
Tokuichi Uranishi, the head of Toyota’s operations outside Japan, told The Sunday Times that the company had initiated a “serious project” on low-cost cars, with a decision on whether to proceed expected in a year.
NI_MPU('middle');A positive decision would result in a “quantum leap” in Toyota’s total production, he said. Toyota is expected to leapfrog General Motors this year to become the world’s biggest carmaker, with forecast sales of almost 9m cars.
Uranishi confirmed that one key issue for the study would be whether cars would be sold under the Toyota brand or a new name. Some executives are worried that the cheaper vehicles might detract from Toyota’s image.
The Japanese group has a history of inventing brands for new markets. It uses the Lexus name for its upmarket cars, and recently launched a new brand, Scion, to target young drivers in America. Several big car companies are also considering similar moves to win first-time buyers in emerging markets.
Renault had a big hit with the Logan, a €7,500 (£5,230) car made in Romania and also to be made in Iran. Designed for emerging markets, it was also a success in Europe, with a three-month waiting list in France, Renault’s home country.
Volkswagen has plans for a car costing €3,000 (£2,000).
China is considered a particular prize — 5.9m cars were sold there last year, making it a bigger market than Japan — but analysts say the potential demand for low-cost cars there is many times larger.
Toyota will open its third Chinese factory in May and will make about 250,000 cars in China this year. It plans to make 1m by 2010.
Meanwhile, Toyota engineers are also working on new versions of hybrid cars, such as the Prius. Hybrids deliver better fuel economy by using petrol and electric motors.
One option is a “plug-in” hybrid that would have a larger battery pack recharged from a mains supply overnight. On short trips, this car would not use petrol at all. Toyota has in recent years stepped up its investment in environmentally friendly technologies such as hybrid vehicles. Its forecasts indicate that if greenhouse gases build up as predicted, three billion people could die because of desertification. Masatami Takimoto, head of research and development, said the company was working on propulsion systems that would not rely on fossil fuels. “In 30 years’ time we will not be able to rely on fuel oil,” he said.