Toyota To Follow Honda Into Jet Development?

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Where Honda goes, Toyota may soon follow. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. has extended Toyota an invitation to fund a company that would design an advanced, fuel-efficient passenger jet. Toyota announced Wednesday it is considering the big leap into the aircraft industry, following a report in the Asahi Shimbun that Toyota has plans to invest $97 million into the project, starting in April. Toyota denied to the AFP that a decision has yet been made. As for Toyota's prior airborne excursions, the company declined comment on progress of a four-seat "one-piece co-cured (single-molded)" carbon-fiber single-engine piston it successfully flew in June of 2002. Mitsubishi has sought numerous investors to help carry the burden of the projected 150 billion yen development costs related to a high-efficiency passenger jet project.

Mitsubishi told the AFP that it is developing two jets with 70 or 90 seats that would incorporate carbon fiber for weight savings and hopes to launch the jets in 2013. Toyota's mostly terrestrial competitor, Honda, announced this week that it has taken over 100 orders for its $3.9 million HondaJet and is now taking Canadian and Mexican orders for the planes.