Toyota Motor Corp.
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Noriko Uno was afraid of driving fast, often avoiding the freeway and taking the same route every day from her Upland home to and from her family's sushi restaurant. She put only 10,000 miles on her 2006 Camry in about four years.
Toyota is planning to sell a plug-in hybrid car in the U.S., Japan and Europe in 2012, targeting sales of 50,000 vehicles a year at 3 million yen ($36,000) each without subsidies, as the automaker strengthens its green lineup to keep pace with growing competition.
Nissan is playing catchup with Japanese rivals Toyota and Honda in introducing its own hybrid car, the luxury Infiniti M, which delivers double the mileage of the gasoline-engine version.
Toyota is recalling 1.53 million Lexuses, Avalons and other models, mostly in the U.S. and Japan, for brake-fluid and fuel-pump problems, the latest in a string of quality lapses for the world's No. 1 automaker.
China's recent halt of exotic metal shipments to Japan amid a diplomatic spat has reverberated throughout the world's high-tech manufacturing hubs _ now on heightened alert to the risks of relying on one country for materials that do everything from helping hybrid engines run to creating the color red in televisions.
Japan waded into the currency market Wednesday for the first time in six years, buying dollars to weaken the surging yen, which is battering famed Japanese manufacturers like Toyota and Sony after spiking to 15-year highs.
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan may have fended off a challenge Tuesday from a powerful politician in his own party, but now he faces the more daunting task of reviving an economy that has sputtered under five premiers over the past four years.