Toyota is to start building its hugely successful hybrid Prius model in China by the end of 2005.

The BBC said the Prius has been a hit in the US, where customers can wait months for delivery, and now Toyota wants to build a niche for the vehicles in China, the world’s fastest-growing car market.

The technology could also be used in cars branded by Toyota’s Chinese joint venture partner FAW, the firm reportedly said.

The BBC noted that Toyota has already taken steps to globalise its hybrid car technology by licensing it to Ford in the US [where it is used in the hybrid Escape].

Parts for Prius cars to be built in Changchun, in north-eastern China, will be imported from Japan, according to the report.

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“With the new agreement, the companies intend to contribute to the promotion of hybrid vehicles in China as well as to the further development of the Chinese automobile industry,” Toyota said in a statement cited by the BBC.

FAW is China’s biggest carmaker, and already works with Toyota to build both sedans and SUVs, the report added.