Tianjin Toyota Motor Company (Tianjin Toyota) has held a line-off ceremony at its new vehicle production plant to mark the manufacturing start of the Vitz/Yaris-based Vios compact saloon, the first Toyota passenger car to be made in China.

The car's name is derivied from the Latin word 'vio' meaning 'go' or 'travel', Toyota said.

About 600 people were at the ceremony, including China FAW Group Corporation president Zhu Yanfeng, Tianjin Automotive Industrial group chairman Zhang Shi Tang, Toyota president Fujio Cho and honorary chairman Shoichiro Toyoda, as well as representatives of central and local governments, the construction industry, suppliers and dealers.

"We have much confidence in this new model...and we look forward to it having a large impact on China's automobile market," said Cho.

At full production, Tianjin Toyota plans to build 30,000 units a year.

Tianjin Toyota is a passenger car-manufacturing joint venture between TMC and Tianjin FAW Xiali Corporation, established in June 2000 with an investment of approximately $US100 million (about 10 billion yen at the exchange rate then). Ground was broken for the plant, which currently employs about 850 people, in July that year. FAW and Tianjin Automotive Industrial are the parent companies of Tianjin FAW Xiali.

TMC said it would fund a pedestrian bridge over the Ansanshitao, a major central Tianjin thoroughfare, and donate a new Vios to the city.