Toyota Motor Corp. unveiled Wednesday a new 1-liter hatchback vehicle called Vitz, which will serve as a base for its line of cars aimed at the global compact car market, the automaker says.

The model, with an engine capacity of 1,000cc, is priced from 830,000 yen — comparable to other minicars, a Japanese category of particularly small vehicles with an engine displacement of 660cc or less, Toyota said.

Toyota said it aims to sell 250,000 units a year worldwide, including exports from Japan to 20 countries, mainly European. On the domestic market, Toyota targets sales of 9,000 units a month.

Toyota President Hiroshi Okuda said that the production of the new strategic car will start at the firm’s French plant in 2001. “We would like to use the platform of the Vitz for models to be sold in some 20 European and North American countries as a new basic car line,” Okuda said.

Beginning in spring, Toyota plans to export the model from Japan for sale under the Yaris brand in Europe, where compact cars are highly popular, according to the firm.

The Vitz, deriving the name from the German word “witz” for wit, has a compact body but a roomy interior that can seat four average-size adults of 190 cm in height, Toyota says. The model also features a fuel-efficient, low-pollution, light-weight engine developed jointly with Daihatsu Motor Co., a Toyota Motor affiliate that specializes in compact cars and minivehicles.

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