• Kyodo

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Toyota Motor Corp. and General Motors Corp. launched production Monday of a jointly developed small car for the Japanese market at their assembly plant here.

The Voltz sedan will make its debut in August at Toyota’s Netz showrooms, a sales network catering to young buyers.

GM began selling the U.S. version of the sedan in the U.S. market in January under the Vibe name.

Voltz is the first sedan earmarked for the Japanese market by the two automakers since the Toyota Cavalier. The Cavalier hit Japan in 1995 but was pulled in 2000 after selling only 12,000 units.

Toyota Director Toshiyuki Funo, speaking at a rolling-out ceremony at the Fremont plant, said the Voltz sedan marks “a new phase” in the history of cooperation between Toyota and GM.

Voltz, with an 1,800cc engine, is a kind of “cross-over” car — handling like a sport utility vehicle but featuring a roomy interior like a minivan.

Production this year is targeted at 11,000 units, rising to more than 20,000 next year. Vibe output at GM averages 5,000 units a month.

Toyota has also been producing a sibling sedan, the Matrix, in Canada for sale in the North American market.

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