Toyota Bets Huge on Hybrids

The automaker plans to roll out 21 new models by 2015

By Christopher Freeburn, InvestorPlace Writer

With gasoline prices soaring above $4 a gallon in many parts of the U.S., and concerns over environmental issues rising around the world, it’s hardly a surprise that automakers are looking to boost their lineup of fuel-efficient vehicles.

Toyota (NYSE:TM) announced on Monday that it will launch 21 hybrid vehicles over the next three years.

3 Reasons to Sell GM, Ford, Toyota — and ALL Auto Stocks
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Some of the new vehicles may be manufactured in the U.S., though the company hasn’t decided where or when that will start, The Wall Street Journal noted.

The Japanese auto giant says it anticipates growing demand for gas-electric hybrids. It forecast worldwide hybrid sales of more than 1 million vehicles a year over the coming three years.

Among the new hybrids, the company will soon unveil the eQ, an electric car aimed to municipal governments and powered by lithium-ion batteries developed by Panasonic (NYSE:PC), which makes the batteries found in some of Toyota’s Prius models.

Company officials noted that hybrid vehicles were still more expensive to produce compared to traditional gas-consuming vehicles. In order to accelerate their acceptance by the car-buying public, and to boost margins, production costs will have to be trimmed.

Shares of Toyota dipped more than 1% in Monday morning trading in New York, while Panasonic shares fell about 3%.

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