GUANGZHOU, China — Guangzhou Toyota Motor Co. will more than double its capacity by starting production at a second plant in the second half of next year, sources familiar with the company's plans say.
Guangzhou Toyota is a joint venture between Toyota Motor Corp. and China's Guangzhou Automobile Group.
The plant, set up in 2004 in Guangzhou's Nansha District, this year raised its annual capacity to 200,000.
The second plant will lift capacity to approximately 400,000.
Guangzhou Toyota currently builds the Camry sedan.
The company says it plans to sell 167,000 Camrys this year. In the first nine months of 2007, it built about 125,000.
A Guangzhou Toyota spokesman confirmed the Camry's sales numbers so far this year. But he declined to comment on or even confirm plans for a second plant.
The new plant is important because Guangzhou Toyota will soon start making the Yaris hatchback. Toyota is expected eventually to make 80,000 to 90,000 Yaris cars a year in Guangzhou.
Strong demand for the Camry has left the original plant with no capacity available for the Yaris. One source also says Guangzhou Toyota is thinking of building the Highlander SUV at the second plant.
Sources disagree on when Guangzhou Toyota started construction of its second plant. One says it began in May; another says early June. One adds that Guangzhou Toyota held a simple private groundbreaking ceremony inside the company in August.
A supplier to the company says construction of the factory buildings is nearly completed. Assembly lines from Japan are expected to be installed during the first several months of 2008.
The new plant should start mass production in September or October next year, after several months of trial operation, sources say.
One source says the planned annual capacity of the new plant is still unknown but "should be a little higher than that of the current plant."
The sources also say Guangzhou Toyota could start producing the Yaris hatchback at any time because it has finished renovating the first plant's assembly lines so that it is capable of building the Camry and Yaris on the same line.
A source says: "They will start trial production of the Yaris in late November or early December this year, and go into mass production in spring next year."