• Kyodo


Toyota Motor Corp. plans to offer auto loan services in China, with the latter’s auto market expected to grow rapidly, company sources said Thursday.

The nation’s biggest automaker will shortly file for approval with Chinese financial authorities, hoping to launch the new service by the end of this year, the sources said.

In September, Toyota set up a joint auto sales company in Beijing — FAW Toyota Motor Sales Co. — with leading Chinese carmaker China FAW Group Corp.

With the joint firm set to begin selling cars at 68 outlets in November, Toyota plans to make the auto loan service available there, the sources said.

Toyota has thus far provided made-in-China vehicles directly to local dealerships.

While U.S. and European automakers, such as DailmerChrysler AG, have secured formidable footholds in the Chinese market for luxury cars, Toyota hopes to spur demand among middle-income individuals by offering auto loans, the sources said.

Currently, only large Chinese banks are allowed to provide auto loans. But Chinese financial regulators will shortly establish a legal system to permit foreign concerns’ entry into the auto loan market, the sources said.

Auto output down

Domestic production of cars, trucks and buses fell 0.4 percent in the first half of fiscal 2003 from the same period last year, owing to shrinking sales of small cars in Japan and a drop in exports as carmakers shifted more production to the United States.

The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association said Thursday that during the half-year period to Sept. 30, the nation’s 12 automakers produced 4.97 million units, the first year-on-year drop in two years.

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