Toyota Motor Corp. announced Monday that the automaker has received formal permission from the Chinese government to soon establish a joint venture with a Chinese carmaker to produce a new compact model in Tianjin.

The Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation on Monday approved Toyota’s plan to make up to 30,000 units annually with Tianjin Automobile Xiali Corp. from 2002.

Toyota and Tianjin Automobile Xiali will invest $100 million in the new company, Tianjin Toyota Motor Co., with each holding a 50 percent stake.

The new model produced at the company will have an engine displacement of 1,300cc and use the same platform as Toyota’s popular Vitz and Plats compact models, company officials said.

In addition, the Chinese government approved a plan by Toyota to provide technical support to Tianjin Automobile Xiali, which will help the Chinese carmaker to produce a new compact model from early 2001, the company said.

Tianjin Automobile Xiali currently produces the Xiali compact, known as the Charade in Japan, after receiving technical assistance from Daihatsu Motor Co. in 1987. Toyota owns a 51.2 percent stake in Daihatsu.

Total production volume at Tianjin Automobile Xiali is expected to reach 120,000 units, including the Xiali and the new model.

In China, demand for passenger cars is on the rise thanks to economic growth. Among annual car sales of about 1.8 million units, 500,000 units are passenger cars, according to Toyota.

This is the third car-making project to be launched by a Japanese company in China, following those by Suzuki Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co.

Nissan eyes expansion

In an effort to expand its market share in South America, Nissan Motor Co. and Renault SA announced Monday that Nissan will start producing pickup trucks in Brazil from early 2002 as part of its capital alliance with the French automaker.

Nissan plans to make 20,000 units annually at a new plant that Renault will build in Curitiba, southern Brazil.

Nissan will invest $300 million to produce five car models, including three sport utility vehicles, by 2005 in the the Mercosur Southern Common Market. Mercosur is comprised of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Using Renault’s 100 car outlets in the region, Nissan expects to increase its annual car sales from the present 4,000 units to more than 150,000 units by 2010, company officials said.

Fuji Heavy moves up

Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. announced Monday that it will raise annual groupwide car sales to 800,000 units in fiscal 2004, up 38.3 percent from its current volume.

Unveiling its midterm management plan for fiscal 2000 to fiscal 2004, President Takeshi Tanaka also said he expects group sales to reach 1.79 trillion yen in the 2004 business year, up 34.4 percent from that achieved in fiscal 1999, which ended March 31.

By region, the company, which formed a capital tieup with General Motors Corp. last year, set fiscal 2004 targets for annual vehicle sales at 348,000 units in Japan, up 16.9 percent, and 452,000 units in foreign countries, up 61.1 percent.

On Monday, Fuji Heavy announced that it posted 87.1 billion yen in consolidated pretax profits for fiscal 1999, up 15.1 percent from the previous year, due mainly to reduced operational and supplies expenditures and revenue from securities sales.

But group sales fell 1.7 percent from a year earlier to 1.33 trillion yen, the first decline in four years. Consolidated operating profits rose 1.6 percent to 91.4 billion yen while consolidated net profits were down 7 percent to 31.3 billion yen.

On a parent-only basis, the company reported 62 billion yen in pretax profits, up 21.1 percent from a year earlier, and 917.5 billion yen in sales, down 1.2 percent.