Toyota Unveils R&D Unit in China

The new company will survey the Chinese auto market, study quality control at its local assembly plants and develop low-emission vehicles and engines for the local market.

Toyota said on Nov. 17 that it will invest nearly $700 million in its first fully-fledged research and development base in China in a bid to expand its share of the world's largest auto market.

The world's biggest automaker hopes to build cars that better fit the taste and demand of Chinese motorists, while the company tries to put this year's global recall crisis behind it.

Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing (China) Co. Ltd. will build the plant at an economic development zone in Changshu, near Shanghai, with plans to begin operations in the spring of 2011.

The new company will survey the Chinese auto market, study quality control at its local assembly plants and develop low-emission vehicles and engines for the local market. The company plans to raise the number of employees from an initial 200 to 1,000.

China overtook the United States last year to become the world's largest auto market in terms of units sold. Auto sales hit 13.64 million units in 2009, up 46% on-year, and are expected to rise by a further 25% this year to 17 million.

"TMEC ... aims to tailor vehicles to the demands of Chinese consumers," Toyota said.

Toyota has enjoyed healthy sales in China this year, but its vice president Satoshi Ozawa told reporters earlier this month that China's possible tightening policies require careful analysis.

Asia has been one of major production pillars of Toyota, nearly equaling North America during the six months to September.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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