Toyota Motor Corp president Fujio Cho wants to sell petrol-electric pickup trucks in the U.S. as production of hybrid-powered vehicles grows 16 times by 2006, Bloomberg News reported.

Cho, speaking to Bloomberg at the official opening of the new Valenciennes Yaris plant, said he hoped that Toyota would be producing 50,000 hybrid petrol-electric vehicles a month within five years, compared with 3,000 a month at present.

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"There's no specific plans yet but looking to the future we'd like to introduce hybrids to many different sectors of the market," he told Bloomberg News.

"We expect volume to increase and cost reductions."

Bloomberg said that Toyota plans this year to introduce a hybrid version of the Estima/Previa minivan in Japan.

Cho told the news organisation that trucks and other vehicles with hybrid powerplants would help boost production volume and lower costs so that the vehicles become more affordable.

The company's hybrid Prius saloon, made since 1997 and now on sale in Japan, Europe and the U.S., costs more than a similarly-sized, conventionally powered Corolla.

The Prius and other hybrids would need more than five years to become as profitable for Toyota as its petrol Corolla, he added.

"It's not necessary to catch Corolla to keep a certain level of profitability and production volume," Cho told Bloomberg News.

"But money is not the only thing that counts. It is important that Toyota is respected in this area."

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