Toyota has set a goal of selling 300,000 petrol-electric hybrid vehicles worldwide by the end of 2005, but production capacity may be a factor, Toyota president Fujio Cho reportedly told an automotive seminar.

According to Reuters, Cho said Japan’s No. 1 automaker remained bullish on prospects for hybrids even as Toyota and others invest billions on technology for hydrogen fuel cell cars and trucks, though experts say road-ready hydrogen-powered vehicles are at least a decade away.

According to the report, Toyota sold 53,293 hybrid vehicles worldwide in 2003 and announced on Tuesday it was boosting monthly production of its hybrid sedan, the Prius, from 10,000 to 15,000 a month in 2005 to meet global demand – the company also plans to introduce two hybrid sport utility vehicles early next year: the Toyota Highlander and Lexus RX400H.

“It may be difficult for us to produce (300,000) hybrids by that time, but we have another year to go so we’ll make every effort,” Cho told Reuters through an interpreter after his prepared remarks.

The report said Toyota also has raised its global vehicle sales target for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2005, to 7.2 million vehicles, an increase of 180,000 vehicles from an earlier forecast, after selling 6.7 million vehicles around the world last fiscal year.

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Cho reportedly acknowledged that a possible obstacle to reaching 300,000 hybrid sales is capacity. For now, all production takes place in Japan, but Cho said the company was studying the possibility of building hybrids in the United States.