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Toyota unveils 'smartphone on four wheels'

Yuri Kageyama, SMH | Nov. 30, 2011
Toyota's president unveiled a futuristic concept car resembling a giant smartphone to demonstrate how Japan's top automaker is trying to take the lead in technology at the upcoming Tokyo auto show.

The forecast of demand for new passenger cars in Japan this year has been cut to 3.58 million vehicles from an earlier 3.78 million by the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association.

Toru Hatano, auto analyst for IHS Automotive in Tokyo, believes fuel efficient hybrid models will be popular with Japanese consumers, and Toyota has an edge.

"The biggest obstacle has to do with costs, and you need to boost vehicle numbers if you hope to bring down costs" he said. "Toyota has more hybrids on the market than do rivals, and that gives Toyota an advantage."

Toyota has sold more than 3.4 million hybrids worldwide so far. Honda Motor, which has also been aggressive with hybrid technology, has sold 770,000 hybrids worldwide.

Toyota is also premiering a fuel-cell concept vehicle, FCV-R, at the show.

Zero-emission fuel cell vehicles, which run on hydrogen, have been viewed as impractical because of costs. Toyota said the FCV-R is a "practical" fuel-cell, planned for 2015, but didn't give its price.

"I felt as though my heart was going to break," Toyoda said of the turmoil after the March disaster. "It is precisely because we are in such times we must move forward with our dreams."

AP

 

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