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Toyota unveils revamped Harrier

Kyodo

Toyota Motor Corp. has unveiled the latest version of its Harrier luxury crossover vehicle, featuring a new design and better fuel economy to attract younger customers.

The Harrier, known in overseas markets as the Lexus RX, was fully revamped for the first time in 10 years. Toyota plans to roll out the gasoline model Dec. 2 and the hybrid version Jan. 15.

The hybrid, which combines a 2.5-liter gasoline engine and hybrid system, offers fuel efficiency of 21.8 km per liter, while retaining the characteristic power of a sport utility vehicle and achieving class-leading environmental performance, Toyota boasted Wednesday.

The monthly sales target is set at 2,500 vehicles, with the sticker price ranging from ¥2.72 million to ¥4.47 million.

“Although it’s an advanced luxury model, we developed it so young people can manage to afford it,” Makoto Arimoto, chief engineer of the latest Harrier, said at a news conference in Tokyo.

The Harrier has been particularly popular among the younger generation, Toyota said.

Noting there has been a declining number of younger people wanting to own cars in Japan, Arimoto said he hopes to revive the car market by awakening their desire to buy automobiles.

The new Harrier, which will be sold only in Japan, has shorter exterior proportions and more interior space than the previous version. It also has the latest safety systems to prevent collisions.

China battery tie-up

Toyota Motor Corp. said Thursday it has established a joint venture in China to make batteries for hybrid vehicles, aiming to launch locally produced hybrids around 2015 to meet growing demand there for environmentally friendly vehicles.

Capitalized at $9.75 million, Sinogy Toyota Automotive Energy System Co. in Changshu, Jiangsu province, is owned 50 percent by local investment company Changshu Sinogy Venture Capital Co., and 50 percent by Toyota, its local unit and Toyota affiliate Primearth EV Energy Co.

The plant will have a production capacity of 110,000 units a year, Toyota said. The joint venture plans to hire about 70 employees and start operation in 2015.

The assembled batteries are expected to become key components of a hybrid system that Toyota is developing with the aim of installing in vehicles in China around 2015, the automaker said.

The new hybrid vehicles will be produced and sold with local joint venture partners China FAW Group Corp. and Guangzhou Automobile Group Co.

As part of its efforts to localize production in China, Toyota also said it has expanded its research and development facilities at Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing (China) Co. in Changshu.