Geneva – Japanese carmaker Toyota on Tuesday unveiled its new compact “iQ” passenger car to a packed crowd at the Geneva Auto Show in a bid to appeal to environmentally-aware urban customers.

The iQ is “the world’s smallest four-seater passenger car,” Toyota Europe senior vice-president Andrea Formica told journalists.

It can seat three adults and one child, and Toyota hopes its small size will make it attractive to urban drivers.

The iQ will also have a CO2 emissions target of 99 grams per kilometre and will thus play a key role in cutting Toyota’s fleet average emissions.

“We view this car as a major milestone in Toyota’s vehicle development,” Formica said.

The iQ “will have a big impact on the market yet a small impact on the environment, … (and) will be on the roads of Paris, Rome, Berlin, Madrid by the end of the year,” Formica added.

In keeping with the dominant theme at this year’s show, Toyota also stressed its work in fuel hybrid technologies, energy efficiency and other environmental measures.

The 1/X model, also on display here, is an example of “plug-in” electricity technology and can cover 100 kilometres (62 miles) on just over two litres of fuel, Toyota said.

Formica said the company still expected overall company sales to grow by 5.0 percent in 2008 despite “tough industry conditions.”

Toyota’s US subsidiary reported on Monday a 6.6 percent drop in February sales, with even popular hybrid vehicles down 7.0 percent from a year earlier.

Toyota overtook Ford Motor Company last year for the number two spot in the US market but slipped back to third place in February as the Detroit group reported sales of 196,681 vehicles.

PUBLICATION: Business Report
DATED: 4th March 2008