Toyota to produce Daihatsu cars in Venezuela

TOKYO - Toyota Motor Corp said on Monday it would assemble a subcompact car designed by subsidiary Daihatsu Motor Co Ltd at its Venezuelan unit to boost production at the plant.

Toyota de Venezuela C.A., in Cumana, northern Venezuela, would begin assembling the 1,300cc Terios sport-utility vehicle from the middle of November, with sales starting the following month, Toyota Motor said.

"Toyota does not have models that meet the Venezuelan government's 'family car' scheme, but Daihatsu does. And output of the vehicle will boost our plant utilisation," said a spokesman for Toyota, the world's third-largest automaker.

Venezuela introduced the family car scheme in October 1999 to encourage sales of compact cars, exempting vehicles of up to 1.6 litres from a 14.5 percent value-added tax, the spokesman said.

Daihatsu, Japan's second-largest maker of minivehicles, is aiming to sell 6,000 Terios models each year in Venezuela.

There were 33,133 vehicles in the family car category in 2000, accounting for nearly half of the 72,181 passenger cars sold in Venezuela, the spokesman said.

The Terios would be the first Daihatsu vehicle to debut in Venezuela since the company exported 800 Applause and Feroza models in 1993, a Daihatsu spokeswoman said.

Toyota owns a 51.1 percent stake in Daihatsu.

Shares in Toyota closed down 2.46 percent at 3,170 yen on Monday, underperforming the benchmark Nikkei average, which fell 1.69 percent. Daihatsu's shares rose 0.9 percent to 563 yen.

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