Toyota to offer Century SUV in bid to win more wealthy customers

Toyota Motor Corp. said Wednesday that it has added a sport utility vehicle model to its most luxurious brand, Century, as part of efforts to expand its line-up of premium cars to tap into the demand of wealthy customers.

The new model of the chauffeur-driven vehicle, only offered as a plug-in hybrid car, is priced from 25 million yen ($169,623) onwards, about 5 million yen higher than the existing sedan model, making it the most expensive domestically mass-produced car at Toyota.

The Century sedans have been used by many VIPs in Japan, such as royal families, top politicians and corporate executives.

The new model has fully reclining rear seats, an improved audio system and rear doors that open 75 degrees to ensure ease of entry and exit, according to Toyota.

The automaker started to take orders on Wednesday and plans to deliver vehicles to customers by the end of the year. The company aims to sell 30 units per month, it said.

The Century was launched in 1967 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Sakichi Toyoda, the Toyota group's founder. The company has sold about 42,000 units of the brand since.

The new model, to be produced at its Tahara Plant in Aichi Prefecture, central Japan, will be sold in Japan and overseas, the company said.

Its overseas rivals, such as British carmakers Rolls-Royce Motor Cars and Bentley, have also sold luxury SUVs.

© Kyodo News