Toyota Motor Corp. is aiming to be the first Japanese automaker to start production in the St. Petersburg area with a factory it is building deep in the forest on the outskirts of the city.

Japan's No. 1 automaker began construction at the 224-hectare site in June 2005 and aims to start up the plant in December 2007.

Russia's fast-growing auto market, posting a 50 percent rise in sales of new foreign cars in recent years, is very promising, according to Toyota officials.