• Kyodo

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Aisin AW Co., a Toyota Motor Corp. affiliate, announced Wednesday it will begin shipping its gasoline-electric hybrid engine system to Ford Motor Co. in 2003 for use in sports and multipurpose vehicles.

The target is about 20,000 units a year. Aisin AW, a subsidiary of Aisin Seiki Co. and partly owned by Toyota, said the system will be installed in the Escape Hybrid Electric Vehicle that Ford plans to market in 2003 as its first hybrid vehicle.

The hybrid system, used in Toyota’s Prius model, runs on an internal combustion engine but switches to an electric motor at low speeds. This results in better mileage and lower pollution emissions.

Aisin AW said the system it will supply to Ford has been developed over the past 10 years and is smaller than that in the Prius.

With the system, the Escape will run at 17 kilometers per liter, making the car twice as fuel efficient as other sports and multipurpose vehicles in its class, the company added.

The Aichi Prefecture-based auto parts maker said it will produce the system only at its domestic factories for the time being.

Auto industry observers say the plan to supply the core system of hybrid cars to the U.S. auto giant reflects Toyota’s strategy to become the world’s leading developer of environmentally friendly technologies.

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