Toyota Investing $96 Million in Jet Project

Investing in Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. which will develop the country's first passenger jet

Toyota said April 30 it would invest up to 10 billion yen (US$96 million) in a project to develop and market the country's first ever passenger jet. Toyota Motor Corp. said it was making the investment in Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp., a wholly owned new unit of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

"In response to a request from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., we have decided to accept up to 10 billion yen worth of increased shares planned by Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. through a third-party allocation," the company said.

The new fuel-efficient jet, dubbed the Mitsubishi Regional Jet, is expected to take to the skies in 2013, carrying Japan's hopes of developing a full-fledged civil aviation industry with it. Mitsubishi Heavy said it had decided to go ahead with the commercial development of the plane after landing its first order from All Nippon Airways for up to 25 aircraft. The jet is expected to compete with small passenger planes, particularly those of Canada's Bombardier and Brazil's Embraer.

Toyota is following the ranks of Japan's second-ranked automaker, Honda Motor Co., in expanding its business interests into aviation.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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