Toyota has started production of the Prius hybrid car in China with local joint venture partner FAW Group, with a goal of selling 3,000 vehicles in 2006. The Japanese automaker has taken the important first step to promote the gasoline-electric cars in China, one of the fastest-growing and world’s largest car markets, as it aims to make hybrids a global standard for fuel-efficient vehicles.
Hybrids burn less gasoline by adding one or more electric motors to a standard engine, while China could also use help with pollution and energy shortage problems, which could slow their economic growth. China currently encourages the use of hybrid vehicles and is moving forward on common level emission regulations with those in Europe and the United States.
The Chinese-built Prius will be priced between 288,000 Yuan and 302,000 Yuan ($35,680 to $37,410), compared to pricing around $22,000 in Japan and North America. Toyota is targeting worldwide hybrid sales of 1 million vehicles a year sometime around 2010.