Toyota begins production in China

Kyodo

Toyota Motor Corp. began turning out its first cars in China on Tuesday, a move likely to intensify competition in the rapidly expanding Chinese auto market.

Tianjin Toyota Motor Co., a joint venture involving Toyota and Tianjin FAW Xiali Corp., said it has launched production of the the Vios compact sedan.

“We have much confidence in this new model, the Vios, which features Toyota’s most advanced technologies, and we look forward to it having a large impact on China’s automobile market and to it being well-received by many Chinese customers,” Toyota President Fujio Cho said in a statement.

At full production, Tianjin Toyota plans to churn out 30,000 units of the Vios each year, Toyota said. The price for the new car ranges between 115,000 yuan (1.69 million yen) and 195,000 yuan (2.86 million yen).

The world’s third-largest carmaker aims to produce 400,000 cars annually by 2010, seizing 10 percent of China’s vast automobile market, Toyota officials said.

In August, Toyota forged an alliance with China FAW Group Corp., China’s biggest carmaker, to produce cars in Tianjin.

The two firms built a factory near the existing plant of Tianjin Toyota.

With Toyota having lagged behind Honda Motor Co. and U.S. and European automakers in terms of its forays into the Chinese market, it is now looking to catch up via the establishment of its own dealership network in 50 locations, as well as sales and production facilities.

Toyota and China FAW also plan to produce between 10,000 and 20,000 sport utility vehicles in 2003 and 50,000 Crown sedans in 2005.

Revamped Cube

Nissan Motor Co. on Tuesday launched its redesigned Cube compact car, the first fully redesign since the model’s debut in 1998.

Nissan said it has set a monthly sales target for the Cube of 7,000 units, as the company aims to increase domestic annual sales of its vehicles by 300,000.

Nissan President Carlos Ghosn said the Cube is important in helping Nissan achieve its sales goal, adding he wants to see Nissan occupy the top three spots in the list of 10 best-selling passenger cars in Japan.

The new 1400cc Cube will have a suggested retail price of between 1,198,000 yen and 1,622,000 yen.