NEW YORK (Kyodo) Fujio Cho, president of Toyota Motor Corp., said Wednesday the company plans to raise its annual sales of gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles to 300,000 units worldwide in 2005.

The sales target, unveiled during a speech in Michigan, is equivalent to about seven times the 43,000 Prius hybrid cars Toyota sold worldwide in 2003.

In addition to the Prius, the company will market two hybrid vehicle models next year and release more types of the environmentally friendly vehicles in the future, Cho said.

In its quarterly earnings report released Tuesday, Toyota said it will boost its monthly production capacity of the Prius to 15,000 vehicles in the first half of next year, up 50 percent.

Imported car sales fall

Sales of new imported vehicles in Japan, including those produced by Japanese makers, fell 2.2 percent in July from a year earlier to 22,148 vehicles.

The Japan Automobile Importers Association said Thursday that it was the first drop in two months.

A total of 19,890 foreign-brand imports were sold in July, down 0.3 percent. Sales of Japanese-made imports came to 2,258 vehicles, down 16.0 percent.

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