Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., the maker of Subaru cars, unveiled on Wednesday a new 2003 worldwide sales target of 568,000 vehicles, up 2.4 percent from the year before.

The carmaker, an affiliate of U.S. giant General Motors Corp., also announced that it will seek a global production goal of 562,400 units.

Fuji Heavy hopes to increase its domestic sales by 1.8 percent from the previous year to 265,000 units this year, including 143,000 minicars. Its overseas sales are expected to reach 303,000 units, up 2.9 percent.

Kyoji Takenaka, Fuji Heavy Industries president, said the company hopes to sell 210,000 cars in the United States this year. Sales there came to 180,000 units in 2002.

The company also announced it will supply the Forester sport utility vehicle to GM’s subsidiary in India.

General Motors India Pvt. Ltd. will begin marketing the model under a GM brand in March. Its sales goal for the model is set at 500 units for 2003 and 1,000 units for 2004.

Fuji Heavy, which has few sales channels in the growing Indian market, wanted to establish a foothold via the network of the GM group.

GM India meanwhile wanted to expand its vehicle lineup with high value-added vehicles to boost sales, Fuji Heavy said.

Following an April 2000 capital tieup, the GM group holds a roughly 21 percent stake in Fuji Heavy.

The Japanese automaker began marketing Subarus in the Philippines in February 2001 and in Indonesia that July through GM group channels.

Local Corolla in India

NEW DELHI (Kyodo) Toyota Motor Corp. launched Tuesday in India a locally manufactured version of the Corolla sedan, striving to make further inroads into that country’s growing automobile market.

“The road ahead is long and challenging. We intend to meet the challenges with our superior products,” Toyota Vice President Yoshio Ishizaka said after unveiling the Indian version of the popular compact.

The model is assembled at the Toyota Kirloskar Motor plant in the southern state of Karnataka.

Toyota hopes to sell 10,000 Corollas in India this year, according to Atsushi Toyoshima. , managing director of Toyota Kirloskar Motor.

Toyoshima said Toyota will wait and see before launching other models on the Indian market.

“The Indian market will grow in the future. I don’t think there is any need to rush,” Toyoshima said.

Some experts have predicted that India’s annual car sales will grow to 1.2 million units by 2005 from the current 600,000 vehicles.

Toyota has sold more than 30 million Corollas in 142 countries worldwide.

MMC to grow Thai unit

Mitsubishi Motors Corp. said Wednesday it will invest about 21 billion baht (57.2 billion yen) for the development and production of its next-generation 1-ton pickup truck, which will be produced at its Thai plant.

The Japanese carmaker plans to expand production capacity at the Thai plant from the present 120,000 vehicles to 180,000 units within a few years as part of its efforts to reinforce business in the country, company officials said.

MMC plans to design and develop the successor to the Strada in Japan and produce the model in Thailand, they said.

MMC Sittipol Co., MMC’s Thai subsidiary that operates the plant, will hire more employees, they said. Last year, the firm manufactured 97,000 Strada 1-ton pickup trucks and 7,000 Lancer sedans at the factory.

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