Toyota (IW 1000/5), the world's biggest carmaker, on Thursday inaugurated a $600 million plant in the southeastern state of Sao Paulo, its third in Brazil, with the aim of producing 70,000 cars a year initially.
The facility, located 56 miles west of Sao Paulo in Sorocaba, will begin producing Etios compact cars in September, with engines imported from Japan.
Attending the inauguration in the sprawling, new complex were Toyota President Akio Toyoda, Brazilian Development, Industry and Foreign Trade Minister Fernando Pimentel, Sao Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckmin and Japanese Ambassador to Brazil Akira Miwa.
Pimentel said the Sorocaba plant, billed as environmentally friendly and employing 1,500 workers, amounted to a vote of confidence by the world's leading automaker "in the strength of the Brazilian economy and the Brazilian auto market."
Brazil is the world's fourth largest auto market after the United States, China and Japan.
Shunichi Nakanishi, president of Toyota Mercosur, said the company planned to double its sales in Brazil to around 200,000 vehicles in the next two years and become one of market leaders in the next 10 years.
The Japanese carmaker had roughly 3% of the Brazilian auto market last year, well behind leading players Fiat, Volkswagen and General Motors.
Toyota, present in Brazil since 1958, has two other plants also located in Sao Paulo state: in Sao Bernardo do Campo where it is headquartered and in Indaituba.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012