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Toyota sees hybrids making up 30% of Chinese sales by 2020

SHANGHAI -- Toyota Motor wants hybrid vehicles to account for three out of 10 cars it sells in China in 2020, the company's top executive in the country, Hiroji Onishi, said Tuesday.

     The Japanese automaker will begin building hybrid vehicles locally this fall. The company also plans to release an electric vehicle in China this year through its joint venture with GAC Group. The new model will bear the Lingzhi brand (Leahead in English), which is unique to the Chinese market.

     Toyota's Prius hybrid made its Chinese debut in 2005 and was followed in 2010 by a hybrid version of the Camry. But the company has succeeded in selling only around 90,000 hybrids in China so far, owing partly to their higher production costs, which are reflected in their premium prices.

     China is demanding lower gasoline consumption from vehicles sold domestically, introducing standards for automakers' average fuel economy. To enable it to continue selling plenty of profitable gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles in China, Toyota will seek a proportional increase in sales of fuel-efficient models.

     Looking at the Chinese auto market as a whole, Onishi said that despite slowing volume, Toyota has not given up on a sales goal of 2 million vehicles a year.

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