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Toyota Motor said it would suspend Prius production at its Chachoengsao plant in Thailand until a legal dispute with the country’s Ministry of Finance over the vehicle’s import status is resolved.

The Thai government disputes Toyota’s claim that the hybrid car is a CKD model, saying there is no production line for the model and that most of the main finished parts are imported.

It considers the car imported and has made a claim for under-paid tariffs and taxes duties amounting to THB11m.

Toyota claims the Prius parts are imported under the Japan-Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement which are subject to 0-10% import duties compared with 80% for a normal CBU import.

Meanwhile, the Japanese car manufacturer Toyota announced having sold more than 8 million hybrid vehicles around the world. The announcement comes 20 years after having presented its first hybrid technology concept-car.

Toyota introduced its first concept, Prius, back in the fall of 1995 during the Tokyo Motor Show. The first prototype had difficulty going for more than 1,600 feet. It was only two years later that the brand was able to reveal its first hybrid model vehicle with both combustion and electric engine in December 1997. The Prius was first sold exclusively in Japan before becoming available worldwide in 2000.

It was only in 2007 that the group crossed the symbolic one million hybrid vehicles sold. Sales of Toyota’s hybrid models progressed steadily year after year until reaching the 8 million marker.

Nearly 3.9 million cars were sold solely in Japan, 2.8 million in North America, 930,000 in Europe and a little over 440,000 in the rest of the world. The numbers include sales of the Lexus model, the high-end division of the brand. The emblematic Prius is the most popular model with more than 3.5 million units ore than ever active in the development of new hybrid solutions, Toyota also continues to explore alternative options.

At the 2014 Paris Motor Show, the brand exhibited a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle (FCV) that has since turned into the Mirai, hydrogen-fueled without any CO2 emissions and more than 300 miles of autonomy. Launched in Japan at the end of 2014, the vehicle will soon be distributed to the United States and in certain European countries (UK, Germany and Denmark) starting September 2015. After the sedan, other forms of the fuel cell vehicle, for crossovers or SUVs, are being designed at Toyota.

The next Frankfurt Motor Show will be the perfect occasion to admire the fourth generation Prius.

The 66th Frankfurt International Motor Show will take place from September 17-27,2015.

Toyota Thailand suspends assembly  (2)