(Corrects typo of "as it" in first paragraph)
By Yoko Kubota and Norihiko Shirouzu
BEIJING, April 21 Toyota Motor Corp is
considering significantly expanding its production capacity in
China as it seeks to catch up with global rivals in the world's
largest auto market, a senior executive said on Monday.
Toyota, the world's largest carmaker, is aiming to double
sales in China to 2 million vehicles, a figure its China chief
Hiroji Onishi said was the "minimum level" necessary to keep up
with market leaders Volkswagen AG and General Motors
Co. He did not set a timeframe for the increase.
"Because of the stronger push made by the U.S. and European
automakers, our sales volume has been growing but our market
share has been reduced to nearly half of what it was before,"
Onishi told reporters at the Auto China car show.
"Our honest feeling is that we have to do something about
our reduced presence," he added, without giving a figure for the
Toyota currently has an annual vehicle production capacity
of around 1 million vehicles in China. It operates joint
ventures with China FAW Group Corp and Guangzhou Automobile
Onishi said Toyota could expand capacity via existing
facilities located inland, such as Changchun and Chengdu. He did
not give a cost estimate.
Toyota is planning to introduce at least 15 new or
redesigned models in China by end-2017, an executive said on
Sunday. It will also start manufacturing and selling Corolla and
Levin sedans with a locally made gas-electric hybrid system in
Toyota expects hybrid models to account for about 20 percent
of the sales of its Corolla series, which include the Levin, in
the future, Onishi said. Toyota last year sold around 150,000
cars in the Corolla series in China.
"We want to change the hybrid situation dramatically with
the new Corolla," he added.
Toyota had said it aims to increase its China sales this
year by 20 percent from a year ago to at least 1.1 million
(Editing by Miral Fahmy)