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Toyota Look to Recover with Two New Hybrid Models

CNBC.com
Wednesday, 9 Mar 2011 | 5:53 PM ET

This is a transcript of top stories presented by China's CCTV Business Channel as produced by CNBC Asia Pacific.

A big hello to our viewers across China. I'm Saijal Patel and you're watching "Asia Market Daily".

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is calling on Europe to strike a balance between tough fiscal reforms and financial support, ahead of this week's EU summit.


(SOT) Timothy Geithner, U.S. Treasury Secretary:
"The governments of not just Greece and Ireland but also other governments doing enormously difficult things in bringing about the types of reforms to their budget. I think there is a broader recognition across Europe that for those reforms to work, they need to be supported by carefully designed conditional financial assistance so the governments are able to fund as they bring about these reforms".

Geithner was on an unusual one-day visit to Germany, which was announced only late last week, fuelling speculation Washington is concerned about Brussel's ability to seal a new package of anti-crisis measures.

Germany, the EU's top paymaster, has been resisting pressure to give the bloc's rescue fund new powers and ease the cost for Greece and Ireland's bailouts.

Elsewhere, Toyota has unveiled its new long-term business strategy - part of which includes a goal to sell a million gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles a year.

To meet that target, the Japanese car giant is rolling out two models.

CNBC's Kaori Enjoji went for a drive, to test them out.

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Kaori Enjoji, CNBC, Tokyo:
The last time gas prices spiked like this in 2008, US consumers veered towards the Prius. Back then Toyota monopolized the hybrid market and the brand was synonymous with cleaner technology.

Fast forward 2.5 years — plenty of other hybrids, Nissan's Leaf is up front in mass-produced electric cars, and the good ol' fashioned internal combustion engine is pushing 40 miles per gallon.

Partly why Toyota is eager to adopt two new members to the hybrid family. Still nameless and priceless, before they go on sale in Japan at the end of April, they're a bit bigger all around than the original Prius. The seven-seater version will be the first time Toyota will use a lithium-ion instead of nickel metal hydride for the battery.

This is the first Prius with a lithium ion battery. That means the battery is half the weight, half the size so you get that third row of seat in the back. The question is, how much of a premium are customers going to be paying.

No details on the mileage or price either, but instead Toyota is pushing the 50 percent larger luggage space and the two panes of sun roofs, which analysts say might tempt a younger buyer.

They also say, however, that Toyota needs to start manufacturing the Prius in the U.S. for the hybrid to trigger a much-needed rebound in profits.

Toyota continues to struggle in the key U.S. market after the massive recalls, an ordeal President Akio Toyoda hopes to put behind him.

Kaori Enjoji, CNBC, Tokyo.

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Those recalls have certainly put a dent in the automaker's image, especially in the U.S.

Karl Brauer, a senior analyst at Edmunds-dot-com says Toyota now has to focus on making unique products, if it wants to repair the damage caused to its reputation.

(SOT) Karl Brauer, Senior Analyst, Edmunds.com:
I think there's been an actual shift, at least in the U.S. market in how people view Toyota. I think for decades they built up a reputation, deservedly so, and I think there has been a substantial shift in that reputation throughout the U.S. and what this basically means is that they have to rely more on interesting product and passionate product that really engages the consumer and they can't rest on this long standing tradition of quality that they've had for decades.

Thanks for watching "Asia Market Daily". I'm Saijal Patel from CNBC.

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