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Toyota to build 16,000 cars at Russian plant in 2008

Toyota's St. Petersburg plant, scheduled to open in December 2007, will assemble about 16,000 automobiles in 2008, the company's spokesman in Russia's second city said Tuesday.

"We are hoping that in the first year, our plant will be able to produce about 16,000 cars," Ichiro Chiba said. He said the factory, which cost an estimated 4 billion rubles ($150 million) and will employ about 600 workers, will eventually have an annual capacity of 20,000 cars, but that it will take several months to ramp up to full-scale production. Chiba added that the construction of the factory's main building, located in the Shushari industrial zone on the outskirts of St. Petersburg, had been completed, and that the installation of production equipment has begun. Cars produced at the plant will most likely be distributed to Russian dealerships, Chiba said, although he did not exclude the possibility they could be exported. He said that within eight years, the company expects to produce up to 30% of all parts used at the plant locally. (