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CHANGCHUN, China (Kyodo) Toyota Motor Corp. said Thursday it will start making its Prius automobile in China by the end of this year, marking the first overseas production of the hybrid vehicle.

The largest Japanese automaker said Sichuan FAW Toyota Motor Co. will undertake production of the vehicles, which run on both gasoline and electricity.

Sichuan FAW is a joint venture between Toyota and China FAW Group Corp., the No. 1 Chinese automaker.

Specifications, prices and other details relating to the Prius model to be made at Sichuan FAW’s factory in Changchun, Jilin Province, are expected to be announced later this year, the partners said.

Toyota Executive Vice President Yoshimi Inaba and FAW Vice President Jin Yi announced the joint project at a news conference held before the 4th Changchun International Auto Expo, which runs from Friday through Aug. 14.

Inaba said the project will hopefully contribute “to the expansion of economic development in Changchun and its region, and to the solution of environmental issues in China.”

Earlier, Toyota said it would start making Camry midsize sedans featuring hybrid systems at its Kentucky factory in late 2006, making that Toyota’s first U.S. production base for hybrid vehicles.

Mazda’s China tech hub

Mazda Motor Corp. said Thursday it has established a technical center in Shanghai as a branch of its Chinese subsidiary to provide technical support for research and development, purchasing and other services for its Chinese operations.

Mazda China Engineering Support Center will start operations on Aug. 12.

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