TOYOTA named its new small car for Europe the Yaris, a made-up word.
The car debuted last night at the Hotel Intercontinental in central Geneva. Toyota's new Lexus small sedan was also shown (see Page 4).
Toyota distributors met all day long at the Intercontinental with their new sales and marketing boss, Juan Jose Diaz Ruiz.
The five-door Yaris will be the key to Toyota's plan to boost sales from 379,000 last year to 600,000 early in the next decade.
Imports from Japan begin in the second half of 1999. Production at a new plant that Toyota is building in Valenciennes, France, will start in 2001.
The Funtime concept shown in Frankfurt last autumn was based on the Yaris platform. The Yaris will be shorter and taller than most of its competitors in the supermini class.
Occupants have a high seating position as in the Mercedes-Benz A-class. The wheelbase is relatively long, with almost no overhang.
The Yaris will be powered by a new 16-valve 1.0-liter engine, the first of a new family of Toyota small-car engines.