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SENDAI (Kyodo) Toyota subsidiary Central Motor Co. on Thursday started operating a new plant in Miyagi Prefecture that is expected to serve as a core assembly unit in the Tohoku region, which the carmaker is turning into its third domestic production base.

Toyota Motor Corp. aims to build an annual 500,000 vehicles, centering on compact cars, in the region, where another subsidiary, Kanto Auto Works Ltd., also operates a factory in Iwate Prefecture.

With an annual output capacity of 120,000 cars, Central Motor’s plant with a floor space of about 120,000 sq. meters will assemble the Yaris sedan, known as the Belta in the domestic market, for export to North America and Asia, they said.

Central Motor, based in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, is slated to shut down its main plant in the city in March and fully shift production, as well as its head office, to the Miyagi plant in April, they said.

The Tohoku region has emerged as Toyota’s third domestic production base after Tokai and northern Kyushu.

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