Toyota Motor Corp. said Monday that it will introduce 21 new gasoline-electric hybrid models by the end of 2015 to meet the growing demand for fuel-efficient cars.

The automaker globally known for its Prius hybrids aims to sell at least 1 million hybrids vehicles globally every year between 2013 and 2015, a target it easily expects to hit in 2012, it said.

Stressing the importance of the hybrid market, Vice Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada told a news conference in Tokyo: “Hybrid technology is the core technology for plug-in hybrids, electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles.”

Toyota plans to market a hybrid with a new engine in 2013, he said.

The automaker also unveiled a new electric vehicle model, the eQ, which will be leased to municipal governments and other selected users in Japan and the United States as early as December. It will be called the iQ EV in the U.S.

The 3.12-meter-long, 1.68-meter-wide compact features a new high-output lithium-ion battery. The EV, which can go 100 km on a single charge and has a top speed of 125 kph, is priced at ¥3.6 million. Only about 100 units will be leased.

Toyota said it has developed a new solid electrolyte for its next-generation batteries, which, with five times the power density, will offer the best performance in the world.

Toyota is also developing a wireless battery charging technology for EVs that bypasses plug-in chargers. The firm plans to test the technology in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture, in 2013, it said.

Audi A6 hybrid


Audi Japan KK started selling the A6 hybrid on Monday, marking its first launch of a hybrid vehicle in the Japanese market.

Priced at ¥6.9 million, the vehicle gets 13.8 km per liter, making it around 17 percent more fuel-efficient than the nonhybrid A6 model, the automaker said.

Audi Japan aims to sell 250 of the vehicles by the end of this year and 700 in 2013, President Hiroshi Okita said at a press conference.

He added that the firm plans to launch a hybrid version of the updated Audi Q5 SUV next year.

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