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Daihatsu Motor Co. said Monday its consolidated net profits for the 2000 business year grew 28.7 percent from the previous year to 15.65 billion yen, thanks to a sales boost resulting from the introduction of new models.

The small-car manufacturer, part of the Toyota Motor Corp. group, also reported pretax profits of 32.21 billion yen, up 18.8 percent.

Daihatsu group sales rose 1.5 percent to 998.79 billion yen, with domestic sales volume increasing 8.3 percent to 525,820 units, it said. However, overseas sales fell 17.8 percent to 80,803 units.

It will pay an annual dividend of 7 yen per share, unchanged from the previous year and including an interim dividend of 3 yen.

For the current business year, the company expects a consolidated net profit of 15 billion yen, down 4.2 percent, and a pretax profit of 26 billion yen, down 19.3 percent, on group sales of 990 billion yen, down 0.9 percent.

Daihatsu attributed the expected drop in earnings mainly to the U.S. economic slowdown and the prolonged slump in Japan.

Oita to get new plant

Daihatsu Motor Co. said Monday that it will relocate manufacturing subsidiary Daihatsu Auto Body Co. from Gunma Prefecture to Oita Prefecture.

The new plant, with an annual production capacity of 150,000 small pickup trucks and vans, is to be built in Nakatsu. Production is to begin in spring 2005.

Daihatsu said the plant, to be built on a 130-hectare site at a cost of 40 billion yen, is designed to be environmentally friendly with greater production efficiency.

All of Daihatsu Auto Body’s 950 employees are to be relocated to Oita, so the firm has no plans to hire new employees except to make up for those unable to move to the new site, Daihatsu said.

The current factory, located in Maebashi since 1960, will be closed down.

Daihatsu Motors said it hasn’t decided what to do with the 9.7-hectare property.

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