OSAKA (Kyodo) Daihatsu Motor Co. will begin marketing its new highly fuel-efficient gasoline-engine minivehicle this summer at a sticker price of ¥1 million or less, company President Koichi Ina said in a recent interview.

“Daihatsu’s fortunes almost depend on (the new model),” said Ina, stressing the importance to the carmaker of the vehicle, whose fuel economy is reputed to be as good as that of hybrids.

The major minivehicle maker said earlier it would debut its new product by the end of this year.

The car is based on the e:S vehicle the company displayed at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2009, and can travel 30 km per liter.

With regard to overseas operations, Ina said Daihatsu’s annual output capacity in Indonesia will be raised to 330,000 vehicles around May from 280,000 vehicles at present in light of brisk sales fueled by the Southeast Asian nation’s economic growth.

Annual production in the country could climb to as high as 400,000 units if the company’s manufacturing facilities begin operating at full capacity, he added.

While identifying emerging economies such as Brazil and South Africa as promising markets, Ina said Daihatsu will focus its marketing efforts on Indonesia and Malaysia for the time being because it has plants there.

Concerning the tieup between Nissan Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp., which are joining forces in the minicar business, Ina said, “It’s a great threat” to Daihatsu, but added his company is not considering tying up with another carmaker.

He indicated that the automaker is cautious about entering the electric vehicle market, citing the high costs of EV batteries and problems related to their durability.

Hino to halt main plant

Kyodo News

Hino Motors Ltd. is considering closing down its main factory in Hino, Tokyo, by 2020 and transferring truck production to a new plant to be built in Ibaraki Prefecture to boost domestic output capacity, sources said Thursday.

The truck and bus unit of the Toyota Motor Corp. group plans to expand exports to emerging markets.

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