By Chang-Ran Kim, Asia auto correspondent

Feb 18, Reuters

TOKYO - Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T: Quote, Profile, Research) on Monday took the wraps off its remodeled Crown sedan, the first car to incorporate the cost-cutting strategy that the automaker hopes will help it save at least $2.8 billion a year.

Toyota began work three years ago on the ambitious plan, called "VI" for Value Innovation, which seeks to lump some of the tens of thousands of car components together to form modules and systems. Analysts have been keen to see the fruits of the scheme for hints to its impact on the car's price, features and eventually the competitiveness of parts suppliers.

The 13th incarnation of the high-end Crown series features many examples of cost-cutting measures under the VI plan, enabling Toyota to cap the car's price while packing more safety and other features compared with the previous generation, the company said.

"We were able to enhance the car's cost performance through the VI efforts," President Katsuaki Watanabe told a news conference.

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photo: Toyota Motor Corp President Katsuaki Watanabe stands next to the company's "Crown Royal Saloon G" at an unveiling of redesigned the Crown sedan series in Tokyo February 18, 2008 (REUTERS/Issei Kato)