Business / Corporate

Toyota says possible Mexico plant far from getting president's approval


Toyota Motor Corp., the last major carmaker without a high-volume assembly plant in Mexico, said the group assessing whether to build a factory there is far from getting cleared by top management.

“There is a team studying it, but I’ll be honest with you, it’s still far from being an approved project,” Steve St. Angelo, head of Toyota’s Latin American operations, told reporters Wednesday in Tokyo.

Low labor costs and favorable trade accords with the United States and some Latin American countries are luring more foreign auto producers to Mexico.

Kia Motors Corp., BMW AG and a Daimler AG-Nissan Motor Co. venture have each announced $1 billion-plus factories since June, highlighting the lack of a comparable plant for Toyota.

President Akio Toyoda has stressed the need for the world’s largest automaker to exhaust all measures to boost output with existing factories. The grandson of the company’s founder is showing restraint after overexpansion contributed to a 2009 fiscal year loss and recalls of more than 10 million vehicles for unintended acceleration.

“Akio is very firm on us about growing in a sustainable way,” St. Angelo said. “He doesn’t want us to go through another recession and have to shut down plants.”

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