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Toyota to boost new Prius output by 70%

Toyota Motor Corp aims to produce 70% more Prius hybrids after a planned remodeling next year, bringing annual output to at least 480,000 units.

Toyota now builds most of the hot-selling gasoline-electric cars at its Tsutsumi factory in central Japan and another plant belonging to affiliate Toyota Auto Body Co. It also assembled 320 Priuses in China last year.

The Nikkan Kogyo industry daily reported on Friday that Toyota would transfer production of the Wish minivan, also built in Tsutsumi along with four other models, to another factory around next April to make way for more Priuses.

A Toyota spokeswoman said the company could not comment on the report.

Toyota sold 281,300 Prius cars worldwide in 2007 and faces a severe supply bottleneck with fuel-conscious customers, especially in the United States, waiting months for delivery.

The world's biggest automaker also recently announced a plan to start building the Prius at an upcoming Mississippi factory from 2010.

The Wish minivan will move to the Tahara factory, from which some production of the RAV4 crossover will switch to a new factory in Canada, the paper said.

Toyota has a goal of selling at least 1 million hybrid vehicles annually soon after 2010, more than double what it sold last year. (Reuuters)