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Toyota may name 8th U.S. assembly plant

NEW YORK (Reuters) -- Toyota Motor Corp. may name a site in the southern
United States for its eighth North American assembly plant as early as this
month, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing people familiar
with the matter.

Toyota (Charts) is considering three to five locations, including
Chattanooga, Tenn., and Marion, Ark., the Journal said.

Other sources told the paper that locations near Alamo, Tenn., and in North
Carolina also are possibilities.

The new plant would have annual manufacturing capacity of 200,000 vehicles
and start production in 2009, sources told the Journal.

It and other plants being built and ramped up would increase manufacturing
capacity to about 2.2 million vehicles a year, compared with 1.5 million
now, the paper said.

Ford and Toyota CEOs 'get acquainted'
The plant would likely produce the next-generation Toyota Highlander
sport/utility vehicle and possibly a tall station wagon like the Chrysler
Pacifica, the Journal said.

The wagon is called the Ace and is a replacement for the Toyota Solara,
people familiar with the matter told the paper.

The move, which Toyota has been pondering for months, would show that Toyota
will try to take more of the U.S. market from domestic rivals in the next
several years, the Journal said.

It also would strengthen Toyota's hand if a backlash against non-U.S. brands
arises from the increasing troubles of domestic automakers and their
suppliers, the paper said.

Toyota will likely expand its existing engine-manufacturing facilities in
the United States, most likely by beefing up its engine plant in Alabama,
the Journal said, citing sources.

A decision on engine-manufacturing expansion also will likely come before
the end of the first quarter of 2007, the Journal quoted sources as saying.

A spokeswoman for Toyota Motor North America was not immediately available
for comment.

Toyota posted a slightly more than 12 percent rise in both December and
full-year sales, topping quarterly results from auto rivals Ford (Charts),
GM (Charts), and DaimlerChrysler (Charts).

The brave might not live forever but the timid do not live at all
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