By San Francisco Business Times

Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. will open a product quality field office in San Francisco with a focus on hybrid vehicle systems and durability, the company said Thursday.

The new facility, staffed by technical and engineering specialists, is one of four Toyota will open in North America. They follow a pilot program launched in the New York region in late 2009.

The San Francisco office will open this month, with the other three opening in the next year.

Toyota chose San Francisco because of the high concentration of hybrid vehicles on the market in California. It chose New York to investigate the performance of Toyota, Lexus and Scion vehicles in cold weather climates, with an emphasis on corrosion issues.

Toyota is considering additional offices in Jacksonville, Fla., to focus on heating, ventilation and air conditioning; Houston, Texas, to focus on trucks and chassis components; and Denver, Colo., to study high-altitude performance and SUV models. In addition, offices in Toronto and Calgary would focus on extreme seasonal temperature changes and high road salt usage.

Toyota is set to work with Tesla Motors to build electric cars at Fremont's NUMMI auto plant.

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