Toyota plans hybrid production at new Miyagi plant

Kyodo

Toyota Motor Corp. plans to produce hybrid vehicles at a new assembly plant that will start operating in 2011 in northeastern Japan, sources familiar with the move said Friday.

Toyota intends to manufacture a Vitz-class subcompact hybrid model at the plant in Ohira, Miyagi Prefecture, which would be one of the automaker’s key domestic production hubs for gasoline-electric cars along with its Aichi and Kyushu factories.

Central Motor Co., a Toyota subsidiary, will run the Miyagi plant by transferring its head office and manufacturing plant from Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture. Hybrids to be assembled in Miyagi are likely to go on sale in 2011 at around 1.5 million yen and with gas mileage of over 40 km a liter — a better performance than the popular Prius.

Another Toyota unit, Panasonic EV Energy Co., is expected to produce and supply batteries for the new hybrid at a new plant scheduled to start operating later this month in Taiwa, Miyagi Prefecture.

Several other Toyota group companies are also scheduled to manufacture auto parts near the new Miyagi plant.

Toyota currently produces its Prius hybrid in the city of Toyota in Aichi Prefecture, where its headquarters are located. Toyota Motor Kyushu Inc., a subsidiary based in southwestern Japan, manufactures another hybrid SAI at its plant in Miyawaka, Fukuoka Prefecture.