Honda Motor Co. plans to begin producing Odyssey minivans in China in 2003 because it anticipates continued growth in the automobile market there, company officials said Tuesday.

The Odyssey will be assembled at a plant in Guangzhou run by Guangzhou Honda Automobile Co., a 50-50 joint venture with a local firm, where the company plans to make 50,000 Accords this year. , they said.

Honda, which is enjoying booming sales of its minivans and subcompacts in the Japanese market, is looking to expand into China, where car purchases by individuals only account for 40 percent of total sales.

The Chinese government is formulating a policy to ramp up private car purchases to 70 percent of total sales over the next 10 years. , Honda wants to offer the Chinese a wider lineup of vehicles.

The company produced 32,000 Accords at the Guangzhou factory in 2000, but remains undecided on the scale of production of the Odyssey, the officials said.

Low-emission Toyota

Toyota Motor Corp. has introduced three new models in its luxury Crown Royal range equipped with the world’s first mild hybrid system using a compact belt-driven motor for low emissions.

The system, called Toyota Hybrid System-Mild, reduces emissions of harmful substances such as hydrocarbon and nitrogen oxide from the 3.0-liter models by at least 50 percent compared with the 2000 standard, Toyota said Monday.

The models carrying the system, equipped with direct-injection engines, compact motor generators and compact 36-volt batteries, also meet 2010 fuel consumption standards required by the government, it said.

The three new Crown Royal Saloon models are priced between 3.65 million yen and 4.42 million yen.

New Windoms debut

Toyota Motor Corp. on Tuesday launched six new models of its 3.0-liter Windom luxury car, which previously came in only two models.

The new models are equipped with windshield wipers that automatically activate when sensing rain and electrically operated rear sun shields. The Windom is known as the Lexus ES300 in overseas markets.

The six models are priced between 3.2 million yen and 3.86 million yen.

“Beginning with the exterior, the new Windom has been dynamically designed with deeply sculpted forms to combine with an interior that boasts generously expansive instrument panel surfaces, a finely finished center cluster and independent ‘triple circle’ Optitron meters,” Toyota said.

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