Major car dealer Yanase & Co., which specializes in foreign vehicles, said Wednesday that it will set up a joint venture with Audi Japan K.K., the Japanese unit of German carmaker Audi AG, to promote sales of Audi cars in Japan.

It is the first time Yanase has agreed to form a joint firm with a foreign automaker.

Yanase Audi Sales Co. will be owned 66.6 percent by Yanase and 33.4 percent by Audi. It will open for business Dec. 1, Yanase said.

Yanase said 22 of its dealerships and 400 employees from its group workforce will be transferred to the new venture.

The car dealer sold Audis in Japan between 1967 and 1992 and resumed sales in October 2000.

Yanase sold about 4,400 Audi vehicles during the one-year period from October 2001, doubling the previous year’s total.