Toyota chief hopes to help Japan auto makers keep tech edge

TOKYO (AP) — Toyota Motor Corp. chief Akio Toyoda, tapped to head the Japanese auto industry association, is promising to lead a push among manufacturers to keep a competitive edge in emerging technologies like zero-emission and autonomous driving.

He told reporters Friday automakers continue to be the mainstay of Japan's economy.

Toyoda, the new chairman of the 14-member Japanese Automobile Manufacturers Association, said Japan leads the world in "electrified vehicles," when including hybrids and plug-ins with pure electric vehicles, and isn't falling behind China, more widely associated with the electric-car drive.

Toyoda is the first to lead the group twice, having served from 2012 to 2014.

He said the high cost of car ownership in Japan, including taxes, parking and insurance, must come down to reverse the longtime decline in the domestic market.