Toyota Building 7th Plant In China

Japan’s top automaker said Monday it would invest $586 million in a new factory in China to produce 100,000 units of a popular Corolla model per year.

TOKYO (AP) -- Toyota Motor Corp. said Monday it would invest 4 billion yuan ($586 million) to set up its seventh auto factory in China on the back of strong demand there.

Japan's top automaker will build the new plant in Changchun, the capital of Jilin province in northeastern China, to produce 100,000 units of a popular Corolla model per year, it said in a statement.

"We will build the new plant due to expanding demand in China," said Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco. The new plant will be a 50-50 joint venture with Chinese partner FAW Group Corp. Toyota gave no further details including when the new factory would begin production.

Toyota's sales in the U.S. have been sluggish, but the company is enjoying strong demand in China even as the country's booming economy shows signs of slowing. Its sales there from January to September 2008 jumped 24 percent year-on-year to 429,000 units. Last year Toyota sold 499,000 vehicles in China.

China's economic growth in the third quarter was its slowest in five years though remained robust at 9 percent.

Most of the vehicles made in China are sold domestically, and Toyota hopes to sell 700,000 vehicles in 2008 and aims to sell one million units by early in the next decade.

The Changchun factory combined with other expansion plans would boost Toyota's annual production in China to over 1 million in the near future from its current 643,000 units per year, the company said.

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