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1/25/2018 7:38:29 AM
Posted: 11/1/2002 2:36:50 PM EST
TOKYO ([url=http://reuters.com/news_article.jhtml?type=sportnews&StoryID=1665550]Reuters[/url]) - Toyota Motor Corp., Japan's largest automaker, plans to build a new truck and sports utility vehicle plant in San Antonio, Texas as it looks to boost its growing U.S. market share, the Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun said on Friday. The industry paper said the plant, which would be Toyota's sixth in North America, would have an annual output capacity of 100,000 vehicles and could go online as early as 2005. Toyota's truck unit, Hino Motors Ltd., may also take part in production at the new plant, it said. The move could help Toyota -- which has been making big gains in the U.S. market at the expense of local rivals -- meet its near-term target of selling two million vehicles a year in North America by boosting the region's output capacity from the current 1.25 million. Toyota will put its official stamp on the move at a board meeting this month, with an announcement to be made in Texas in December, the Nikkan Kogyo said. A Toyota spokesman would not confirm the report. "We are in the process of a feasability study for expanding our North American output capacity," Toyota spokesman Tetsuo Kitagawa said. "Nothing definite has been decided yet," he said. The auto giant had announced in September it would invest $140 million in a new manufacturing plant in Mexico just south of San Diego to produce 20,000 small pickup trucks annually. The Mexico plant is expected to help Toyota boost its North American output capacity to 1.5 million vehicles by 2005. Toyota also said in September it planned to build another plant in North America as part of efforts to boost its global vehicle market share to 15 percent from 10 percent over the next decade. Much of that growth is targeted for North America. Toyota, the world's third-largest automaker, already sells a full range of vehicles, including pickup trucks, minivans and sport utilities, in the United States, but executives have said there is room for further expansion. Eight states had been cited as possible locations for the new Toyota factory: Texas, Arkansas, North Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee and Virginia. All of Toyota's proposed plant sites were away from the Midwest, the stronghold of the United Auto Workers union. Many foreign automakers, including Honda Motor Co Ltd. , Hyundai Motor Co. Ltd., Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. and BMW AG, have built or are planning to build vehicle assembly plants in southern U.S. states. Many of the new plants build trucks, specifically sport utility vehicles, the fastest-growing and most profitable part of the U.S. market. American automakers still sell the majority of trucks and SUVs, but have been losing market share to foreign firms such as Toyota. The newspaper said the Texas plant would produce large pick-up trucks and SUVs, with San Antonio's proximity to Mexico being a factor in the decision as it would help Toyota procure parts at a cheaper price. Toyota on Wednesday said a 17 percent rise in new vehicle sales in the United States had helped power it to record profits in the half year to September 30. It also forecast the robust performance would continue in North America, raising its group sales forecast in the region by 30,000 vehicles to 1.97 million for 2002/03. Shares in Toyota closed morning trade up 3.36 percent at 3,080 yen, while the Nikkei average was up 0.39 percent.
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