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Toyota, Fuji Heavy plan to build about 1000,000 Camrys a year in Indiana

TOKYO (AP) _ Toyota and partner Fuji Heavy Industries, the maker of Subaru cars, will produce about 100,000 of the popular Toyota Camrys a year at Fuji's U.S. plant in Indiana starting in the spring of 2007, the Japanese automakers said Monday.

The plans, outlined by the presidents of Toyota Motor Corp. and Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. in Tokyo, are expected to create about 1,000 jobs at the Subaru of Indiana Automotive Inc. plant, which now employs 2,300 people.

The plant will produce about 100,000 Camrys a year, raising the plant's annual production to 240,000 vehicles, the companies said.

The Camry sedan is the best-selling car in the United States and is now being produced in the United States only at Toyota's plant in Georgetown, Ky. The Subaru plant in Indiana currently produces Subaru Outback station wagons and Legacy sedans.

The automakers also said Fuji will work together to produce Fuji hybrid vehicles using Toyota's hybrid technology. Fuji Heavy President Kyoji Takenaka and Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe gave no additional details on that effort at a news conference.

Hybrid cars deliver better mileage than conventional cars by switching between a gasoline engine and an electric motor, and Toyota leads in selling hybrid vehicles.

In October, U.S. automaker General Motors Corp. said it was ending its alliance with Fuji and selling its entire 20 percent stake the company. At that time, Toyota bought an 8.7 percent stake in Fuji for $315 million and became the top shareholder in Fuji.

GM has been struggling to maintain U.S. market share in the face of competition from Asian automakers like Toyota, Honda Motor Co. and South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co.

Brisk sales at Toyota, the world's second largest automaker, have put it on pace to surpass GM as the world's biggest automaker in the next year or two. Toyota reported a 34 percent rise in profit to 398 billion yen, or about $3 billion, for the quarter ended Dec. 31 as sales jumped in North America and Asia.

Set up in 1987, the Subaru Indiana plant made nearly 120,000 Subaru vehicles last year, including Outback station wagons, Legacy sedans and Baja and B9 Tribeca sport utility vehicles.

Detroit-based GM, meanwhile, is embarking on a massive turnaround effort after losing $8.6 billion last year. Last week, GM sold a 17 percent stake it had in Suzuki Motor Corp., mostly to Suzuki, for about $2 billion to raise desperately needed cash.

GM and Suzuki said their partnership will continue, such as their joint venture production plant in Canada and cooperation in fuel-cell technology. GM still has a 3 percent stake in Suzuki, which makes small cars.

GM sold 9.2 million vehicles worldwide in 2005, the second-largest volume in the company's history. Toyota produced 7.4 million vehicles last year and plans to make 9.06 million this year.

Toyota shares, which have gained nearly 60 percent over the last year, rose 0.8 percent to close at 6,340 yen ($53) in Tokyo ahead of the announcement with Fuji.
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