Toyota Rolls Out First Camry Made in China

Toyota Motor Corp. rolled out its first Camry that is made in its new factory in Nansha, China. The Japanese automaker hopes the new release will help it to catch up with rivals in the world's fastest-growing car market, according to an Associated Press report.

At a ceremony marking the occasion, hundreds of Japanese and Chinese dignitaries turned out as the Camry, which is the best-selling car in the U.S. and a top import in China, rolled off a line at the plant just north of Hong Kong. The plant was built as part of an effort by Chinese leaders to build up a world-class auto industry.

Toyota joins a rush by the world's automakers for a share of China's auto market, which saw sales jump by 30 percent last year to 5.7 million vehicles, third largest in the world behind Japan's 5.8 million.

Toyota said Chinese-made Camrys will be priced at 197,800-269,800 yuan ($24,700-$33,700), well below analysts' expectations.

The Camry production is expected to help Toyota, a relative latecomer to China, build market share. Last year, the Japanese automaker had 3.5 percent of the market, according to the company's latest statistics.

That puts it behind top foreign automaker General Motors Corp., which surpassed Volkswagen AG of Germany to grab 11 percent of the market last year with 665,390 units sold.

Toyota began exporting to China in 1964 but lagged behind rivals in the country, choosing instead to concentrate on the markets in the United States and Europe. It wasn't until 2002 that it rolled out its first locally produced, Toyota-brand car with a Chinese partner, state-owned FAW Group Corp.

Chinese and Japanese officials are keen to highlight progress in business ties between the two Asian giants amid disputes over territory and over Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visits to a war shrine that honors the dead of World War II, including war criminals.

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