NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
Toyota Motor Corp., the leader in sales of hybrid gas-electric vehicles, announced a hybrid version of its Camry sedan Tuesday, the best-selling U.S. car model.
Production of the Camry hybrid is slated to begin in late 2006 at the company's Georgetown, Ky., plant, making it the company's first U.S.-built hybrid.
"This is a proud day for the entire state of Kentucky," said Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher.
"Once the decision was reached to make a hybrid version of our best-selling vehicle -- the Camry -- the Georgetown plant was the natural choice for Toyota's first North American hybrid production," added Gary Convis, president of Kentucky plant. "Our team members' hard work and dedication over the last 20 years will ensure that the production of these cutting-edge vehicles in Kentucky will also be hugely successful."
The company already makes a hybrid sedan, the Prius, which had U.S. sales of 53,991 last year. By comparison, the Camry had U.S. sales of 965,091.
"The continued success of Prius has demonstrated consumers' growing demand for hybrid vehicles," said Jim Press, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Toyota Motor Sales. "Hybrid production in the U.S. will allow us to be even more responsive to the desires of our customers."
Other automakers have hybrid versions of gasoline-only vehicles already in production or coming to production soon. Honda Motor Co. has hybrid versions of its Civic, a compact car, and the Accord, its mid-size sedan and the nation's No. 2 selling car model after the Camry.
Toyota just recently came out with its own hybrid versions of gas-only vehicles when it brought hybrid technology to two mid-size sport/utility vehicles for the first time. The hybrid Lexus RX 400h, the SUV for its luxury brand, went on sale in April, while a version of the lower-priced Toyota Highlander is set to go on sale in June.
But the Prius and the two SUVs are made in Japan.
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