Toyota Motor Corp. plans to open a network of dealer and recycling centres across Europe to handle its 'green' Prius vehicle, writes the UK's Financial Times (11/9/00).

Japan's largest auto-maker said that it would take responsibility for both the cost and recycling of the Prius' electric batteries.

Six hundred dealers have been earmarked to handle sales within the European market that will include 80 'hybrid technical centres' in the UK, says the report.

Collection centres for vehicle batteries will be set up by the company, which will then be recycled at three centres in Europe.

Toyota - set to launch the gasoline-electric powered model in Europe in the Autumn - hopes to sell around 5,000 units within the region. This figures comes on the back of North American sales of the car - which became the world's first mass produced hybrid vehicle in December 1997 - totalling 3,400 units in its first month following its US launch in the summer.

The company plans to sell 20,000 Prius models a year outside Japan, says the FT.