Toyota to invest $800 million at Argentina factory

By: Taos Turner


BUENOS AIRES--Japanese car maker Toyota Motor Corp. TM -0.67% plans to invest $800 million to boost production capacity at a factory in the province of Buenos Aires.

The plan, unveiled Wednesday not by Toyota but by Argentine Industry Minister Debora Giorgi, will almost double the size of the factory and allow the company to raise vehicle output to 140,000 units a year from 92,000 currently.

Toyota has increased production capacity from around 70,000 units at the end of 2007.

The company exports about 70% of its production to Brazil, Colombia, Paraguay and Uruguay, according to a statement issued by the Industry Ministry.

"This is just one more example of the confidence that Toyota Motor Corp. has in Argentina," said Steve St. Angelo, chief executive officer for Toyota in Latin America and the Caribbean, in a video posted on a government website.

Toyota Argentina was founded in 1994 and began production at its factory in Zarate in the Province in 1997.

The company employs around 4,300 people in Argentina.

The amount of Toyota's investment is somewhat unusual in Argentina, where rampant inflation, energy supply problems, cumbersome trade policies, and a ban on sending dividends abroad have spooked investors.

Still, automotive production has been booming in Argentina in recent years. Last year, the country produced 764,000 vehicles, according to local industry data. A decade before that vehicle output totaled just 159,000 units.

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