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China to build Toyota Kluger

Off to China: The Toyota Kluger - known as the Highlander overseas - has gone into production in China.

Toyota opens Chinese factory to make Kluger, boosting production capacity 80%

2 Jun 2009

TOYOTA has started Chinese production of the Highlander SUV, which is known as the Kluger in Australia where the local subsidiary of the world’s largest car-maker still hopes to secure production of the next-generation model beyond 2012.

As previously reported, GoAuto understands that Japanese production of the Kluger will cease in Japan, where Australia’s version is made, after the current model is replaced by an all-new vehicle that is not due to emerge for at least two years.

Toyota Australia has made no secret of its desire to add a third model line at its Altona facility in Victoria, which produces the Camry and Aurion sedans and could easily be expanded to produce any Toyota Modular Platform-based vehicle, including the Kluger.

It is not clear what bearing, if any, Kluger manufacture in China will have on Toyota Australia’s Kluger production hopes, but Toyota makes it clear the new assembly line in the Nansha District of Guangzhou in Guangdong will be for domestic production only.

The new Highlander assembly line represents a total investment of 4.26 billion yuan ($A772 million) by Guangzhou Toyota Motor Corporation (GTMC), which is a joint-venture between Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) and Guangzhou Automobile Industry Group.

“TMC is looking forward to continuing to work with our business partner Guangzhou Automobile in strengthening GTMC’s foothold in the Chinese market and steadfastly increasing its operations, thereby enabling GTMC to provide even more products and services that will be welcomed by consumers in China,” said TMC executive vice-president Takeshi Uchiyamada.

Sales of the Chinese-built Highlander, which will be priced between 248,800 yuan ($A45,000) and 429,800 yuan ($A78,000) in China, began on May 25 – the same day a line-off ceremony was held to open the new facility. GTMC said it has a 2009 sales target for the Highlander of 20,000 vehicles.

The Highlander will be built on the second assembly line to be formed by GTMC in south China, and brings the venture’s total annual production capacity to 360,000 vehicles – up 80 per cent.

In addition to annual production capacity of 200,000 examples of the Camry, which was the first vehicle to be manufactured by GTMC, in May 2006, the Highlander will join the Yaris, which entered production in China in May 2008, on a second assembly line that will produce 40,000 vehicles initially, increasing to 160,000.

GTMC’s more advanced and energy-efficient new assembly line will produce both 2.7-litre four-cylinder and 3.5-litre V6 versions of the Highlander, which it describes as it first “luxury SUV”.

Toyota also builds its Crown, Vios and Reiz models in China in a joint-venture arrangement with FAW Group.

Read more:

Toyota Australia looks to build third model line

Australian-made Kluger edges closer

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