Toyota aims to sell more than 8 million cars

/ Source: The Associated Press

Japan's top automaker Toyota hopes to sell more than 8 million vehicles worldwide next year and plans to introduce a hybrid version of its luxury sedan Lexus GS in 2006, company executives said Tuesday.

The Toyota group, which includes Daihatsu Motor Co. and truckmaker Hino Motors Ltd., is targeting global vehicle sales of 8.03 million in 2005, up 7 percent from the 7.47 million vehicles expected this year, President Fujio Cho told reporters.

Toyota Motor Corp. expects sales growth in all key regions, including the United States, where sales will likely total 2.15 million next year, up from 2 million this year. In Japan, Toyota plans to sell 2.44 million vehicles, up from 2.39 million, Toyota said.

Takeshi Yoshida, the official in charge of Lexus, said after the news conference that a hybrid version of Lexus GS will go on sale in 2006 worldwide.

A hybrid switches between a gas engine and an electric motor to deliver the most efficient drive depending on the car's speed. It offers better mileage than regular cars and is attractive to people who want a more environment-friendly car.

Toyota has scored success with the hybrid Prius but doesn't yet have a luxury hybrid. It has said it plans to begin selling hybrid versions of its Highlander and Lexus RX SUVs in the United States next year.

Toyota is planning to introduce Lexus dealers for the first time in Japan in August next year.

Some cars sold as the Lexus abroad are already sold in Japan but under different names. The Lexus was first introduced in the United States in 1989 and is now sold in 60 nations.