TOKYO (AP) — Toyota Motor Corp. is planning to build its first new auto assembly plant in Japan in nearly two decades, Japanese media reports said Friday.
The Japanese automaker said in a statement it's studying all such production possibilities, but no decision had been made.
Toyota, which makes Camry sedans, Lexus luxury cars and Prius hybrids, has been reporting booming sales and appears to be on track to beat General Motors Corp. as the world's No. 1 automaker in annual global group sales and production, perhaps as soon as this year.
Kyodo News, citing anonymous sources, said Toyota is considering Japan's northernmost island of Hokkaido or the northern region of the main island as possible sites for the plant.
A decision for the $872 million plant, producing from 100,000 to 200,000 vehicles a year, could come as early as this year, the report said.
Toyota officials have said Japan is often the best place to make certain models, such as luxury models and hybrids. The latter switch between a gas engine and an electric motor to boost mileage.
Fuel-efficient models from Japanese companies are growing in popularity because of soaring gas prices. But up to now, Japanese automakers have been busy opening plants overseas to keep up with growing demand.
Honda Motor Co., Japan's No. 2 automaker, whose fuel-efficient models are also selling well, is planning its first plant opening in Japan in 30 years. The new car-assembly and engine plants will be running by 2010.
Toyota has already announced a new line next year at a 2005 plant in southwestern Japan to double production of engines for luxury models.
While the Japanese auto majors have been seeing their sales and global market share increase, their American rivals, including GM and Ford Motor Co., have been struggling to boost profits, cutting jobs and shuttering plants.