UPDATE 2-Toyota resumes expansion with new Mexico, China plants

Wed Apr 15, 2015 6:46pm EDT
 
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(Updates to specify first passenger car plant, adds details on Mexico announcement)

By Chang-Ran Kim

TOKYO, April 15 (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp said on Wednesday it will build new factories in Mexico and China, ending a self-imposed expansion freeze and putting more pressure on global rivals.

The world's largest automaker by sales volume said it would build a $1 billion plant with an annual capacity of 200,000 cars in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato, increasing its overall North American production capacity by about the same number of vehicles.

That plant, Toyota's first passenger car plant in Mexico, would have about 2,000 workers, the company said.

The highly anticipated announcement comes amid a flurry of new auto investments in Mexico, as carmakers are drawn to its low labor costs, free trade agreements and proximity to the United States.

Since the beginning of Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto's administration in December 2012, auto investments have reached over $20 billion dollars, Mexico's Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said at Toyota's announcement in Mexico City on Wednesday.

The new Mexico plant will be the first built from the ground up under the Toyota New Global Architecture strategy, the automaker's new approach to engineering and building vehicles, Jim Lentz, head of Toyota's North American operations, said in an interview on Wednesday.

Toyota said investment for the Guanajuato plant would likely be about 40 percent less than comparable investments in 2008. The Guanajuato site will be a model for other factories globally, Lentz said.   Continued...