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Toyota's new model to boost sales to 1.2 million

Toyota will launch a new compact model in Europe next year to help it achieve European sales of 1.2 million vehicles in 2008.

Japan's biggest carmaker by sales volume said at a press conference to launch the new model, the Auris, in Japan, that it would launch the car in spring in Europe.

It is targeting annual sales of more than 200,000 of the Auris next year in the two markets, of which 180,000 will come from Europe, Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe said.

The sales goal would be 18% of its European sales of 995,000 vehicles there last year. The company hopes the new product will become one of its mainstay models in the market, like the Yaris compact, Mitsuo Kinoshita, a Toyota executive vice president, told reporters after the press conference.

"We're preparing for production (of the model) in Europe," Watanabe said, adding that the company is considering producing the compact at two plants in the region, though he failed to name the plants.

The Auris, which will replace the Corolla in Toyota's European compact line-up, will likely be produced at plants where the company currently produces the Corolla model, including the UK.

Built on an all-new platform, the Auris will be offered in three and five-door hatchback body styles with a choice of two petrol engines (1.4 VVT-i and 1.6 Dual VVT-i) and three diesels (1.4, 2.0 and 2.2 D-4D), all of which meet Euro IV emissions standards.

The 2.0-litre D-4D 130 engine has a power output of 124bhp and was first utilised in the 2007 Avensis, launched a few months ago. The 2.2 D-4D 180 is equipped with Toyota’s D-CAT clean diesel technology, which reduces nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate emissions.

Gearboxes include a six-speed manual transmission fitted as standard on the 2.0 D-4D 130 and 2.2 D-4D 180. A MultiMode system with paddle shift controls will be available as an option on the 1.4 D-4D 90 and 1.6 Dual VVT-i engines.

Andrea Formica, Toyota Motor Europe senior vice-president sales, marketing and aftersales, said: “The C-segment is the most important segment in the European car market and many European brands are defined by the image and success of their C-segment models. With the launch of Auris we want to achieve a step-change, not only in sales volume, but also in terms of brand image for Toyota.”

Auris will be presented for the first time at the Bologna Motor Show on December 5. UK sales will start in February 2007, in advance of other European markets, which will offer the car from next spring.

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