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Toyota Aims for Prius Hybrid to Become U.S. Top-Seller by 2020

Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s largest maker of gasoline-electric autos, expects the Prius hybrid and related models bearing the same name to become its top-selling U.S. vehicle line by the end of the decade.

“We will end the decade with Prius being the number one nameplate in the industry,” Bob Carter, Toyota’s group vice president for U.S. sales, said in a call with analysts yesterday. The Camry, Toyota’s top-selling U.S. model, “will be a close second, and that’s not because there will be a drop in Camry sales,” he said, according to notes from the call confirmed by Toyota.

Along with the current midsize Prius hatchback and a plug-in version due by 2012, Toyota plans to unveil a larger, wagon-type Prius at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Jan. 10 and display an additional concept version, Mike Michels, a company spokesman, said without elaborating.

Prius, the world’s best-selling alternative powertrain car for a decade, faces competition this year from Nissan Motor Co.’s rechargeable Leaf hatchback and General Motors Co.’s Volt plug-in sedan, which offers the ability to drive extended distances using little or no gasoline. Deliveries of the Leaf and Volt began last month.

Toyota rose 1.1 percent to 3,255 yen as of 9:40 a.m. in Tokyo trading. The shares declined 17 percent in 2010.

Toyota will announce U.S. Prius sales for 2010 later today. Sales of the car through November fell 2 percent to 125,289 from a year ago, according to the company. By comparison, Camry sales through November were 296,581.

Prius had one of its best months of sales in December in a decade, according to, an auto-shopping research website, which reported on highlights of the call with analysts.

U.S. sales operations for Toyota, based in Toyota City, Japan, are in Torrance, California.

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