Toyota Motor Corp. and Rover Group are considering the construction of new plants in Europe.
Toyota is mulling a new transmission plant in Poland to make up to 200,000 gearboxes annually for the Yaris supermini. A third vehicle assembly plant also is being considered. Toyota has set its sights on Hungary, Poland or the Czech Republic for the assembly plant. The company now has an assembly plant in England and is building one in France.
Rover's parent company, BMW AG, is poised to invest in the ailing British automaker. The choices for a plant to make the next-generation 200 and 400 models have been narrowed to Rover's current assembly plant at Longbridge, England, or Gyor, Hungary.
To build the car at Longbridge will require a massive infusion of cash. Any plans for Longbridge hinge on BMW's request for a £200 million (about $326 million) subsidy from the British government.
Rover would pay about $2.12 bil- lion in addition to the requested subsidy. A decision from Rover on whether to proceed with the remodeling is expected by April.
Rover Chairman Werner Saemann said he will fight for Longbridge, but economics might tilt the balance in favor of Hungary.
A plant in Hungary would cost 10 percent less, and labor would be cheap and plentiful, Saemann said.
Toyota also is discussing whether to upgrade one of its existing assembly operations or build a new factory, said Toshio Mizushima of Toyota Motor Europe Manufactur-ing in Brussels. Toyota's European output is expected to reach 400,000 per year by 2002.