• Kyodo

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Toyota Motor Corp. will eliminate next year a production line for hybrid cars at its main Motomachi plant in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture, company officials said Friday.

It will be the first time in 10 years Toyota has cut a domestic production line.

The move is aimed at streamlining the company’s operations by shifting more resources to overseas production and by curtailing domestic production amid falling demand in Japan, the officials said.

Production of hybrid cars — environmentally friendly vehicles powered by both gasoline engines and electric motors — will be transferred from the Motomachi plant to other production sites in Japan, they said.

The vacated site will be used to train overseas staff, they added.

Toyota produced most of its hybrid cars at the Motomachi plant but will now let other plants where conventional gasoline-powered automobiles are produced handle them.

The Motomachi plant has two production lines, one for luxury sedans like the Crown and Mark II, and the other for hybrid cars.

Honda hot in Europe

PARIS (Kyodo) Honda Motor Co. President Hiroyuki Yoshino said Thursday that output in Europe in the first eight months of this year has exceeded the carmaker’s projections, rising 63 percent from the previous year instead of the projected 53 percent.

Sales, however, are right on the mark at 11 percent for the January-August period, the pace Honda is targeting this year, he said. Yoshino is in France to attend the Paris Motor Show.

Honda intends to raise local production in Europe to 175,000 cars this year, an increase of 53 percent over the previous year. The sales target was set at 189,000.

Yoshino said there is strong demand for the Honda CR-V, a small sport utility vehicle, despite a general slowdown in the European car market.

Yoshino said Honda plans to introduce diesel models of the new Accord sedan and the CR-V in Europe. Diesel models are popular because they emit less carbon dioxide.

The diesel models are expected to hit the European market in 2004.

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