Toyota and Nissan to Assemble Hybrid Cars in U.S. in 2006; Honda Studying Possibility of U.S. Production
DETROIT — Toyota Motor Corp. will start producing its hybrid car models in the United States in 2006, Toyota President Fujio Cho said on Jan. 11, according to a report in the Japan Times.During a news conference at the 2005 North American International Auto Show, Cho said details of the hybrid production plan, including the types of cars and production sites, will be decided in the first half of this year.Honda Motor Co. President Takeo Fukui told a separate news conference in Detroit that the automaker will consider hybrid car production in the U.S. Honda will decide which models to produce in the country based on demand by the end of 2006, with an eye to studying the possibility of manufacturing hybrid sport utility vehicles, Honda officials said. The remarks by the two automakers' chiefs follow the Jan. 10 announcement at the auto show by Nissan Motor Co. President Carlos Ghosn that the company will begin producing the hybrid version of its midsize Altima sedan in the U.S. in 2006.Both Toyota and Honda will procure basic parts for hybrid engine systems from Japan at the beginning of U.S. production, but they aim to switch to local procurement in the future, officials of the two companies said.Toyota expects its hybrid car sales in the U.S. in 2005 will exceed 100,000 units, or double its 2004 figure, as the company plans to launch hybrid SUVs in addition to its popular Prius car. Honda aims to sell 50,000 hybrid vehicles in the U.S. this year after introducing a hybrid version of the Accord model. Cho also said that Toyota will increase the rate of local production in North America to 75 percent from 60 percent. He did not elaborate on the planned increase. Toyota is currently building its sixth North American factory, in Texas. Cho said Toyota will look into the feasibility of building its seventh North American factory after studying this year's sales.