The new plant, located in Changchun, Jilin province, will start production in late 2011 or early 2012 and have a yearly production capacity of 100,000 vehicles, Kato told the press at the Beijing Auto Show. The Japanese automaker wants to expand its production capacities in China, after sales growth was slower than other rivals last year. The Changchun plant will be operated with joint-venture partner China FAW Group Corp.
“China has become a big market for Toyota and for all automakers,” Koji Endo, managing director of Tokyo-based Advanced Research Japan was quoted as saying by the Automotive News. “It's important for Toyota to have more capacity in a market that will grow,” he added.
Toyota executives said they expected sales to rise 13 percent this year to reach 800,000 units. The company, which was affected by the recall of over 8 million vehicles worldwide for problems related to unintended acceleration, also plans to increase capacity at a joint-venture plant with FAW in Chengdu to 30,000 units from 13,000 units by June. The plant builds the Coaster and Land Cruiser Prado models.
Toyota currently has total production capacity of about 803,000 units in China. The company's sales in China rose 21 percent to 709,000 units in 2009. By comparison, General Motors, China's biggest foreign automaker, reported 2009 sales up 67 percent to 1.83 million and expects to sell about 2 million vehicles this year.