Source AP ©

Toyota builds new plant in northern Japan

A Toyota subsidiary said Tuesday it will build a new plant in northern Japan, the latest move by the Japanese automaker to beef up global production.

Central Motor Co., a Toyota Motor Corp. group subsidiary, said in a statement the plant in Miyagi Prefecture will be completed by 2010, with a planned annual production capacity of 120,000 vehicles.

Toyota welcomed the announcement, and said in a statement it hoped the new plant will make production more efficient and contribute to the continuous production of quality Toyota cars.

Toyota, whose global vehicle sales have been growing on the back of its reputation for good mileage, has been setting up new plants around the world. But it has not opened a new car-assembly plant in Japan in recent decades.

The Japanese auto market has long been stagnant. Toyota is maintaining overall sales growth by boosting sales in other countries, offsetting declines in Japan.

Toyota's local rival, Honda Motor Co., which makes Accord and Civic cars, is also planning to open a car-assembly plant in Japan by 2010. It will be Honda's first plant opening here in 30 years.

Central Motor now makes various Toyota cars, including the Yaris for U.S. export and the Corolla, with an output of some 120,000 vehicles a year.

It was not immediately clear what Central Motor had planned for the current plant, and whether the new plant will replace the old plant.

The news of Toyota's new Japan plant comes as U.S. automakers General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. are shuttering plants and cutting jobs in the U.S. to boost profits.

On Monday, Toyota said it sold 7.05 million vehicles in the first nine months of this year, falling short of Detroit-based General Motors Corp.'s sales of 7.06 million vehicles for the same period.

For the first half of the year, Toyota beat GM, the world leader in annual vehicle sales for more than seven decades.

Toyota has set a global sales target of 10.4 million vehicles for 2009 - a number that would put it far ahead of the current industry record of 9.55 million vehicles sold by GM in 1978.