Toyota Motor Corporation said on Thursday that it plans to establish research and development centres in both Australia and Thailand as part of a plan to better tailor its vehicles to market needs in the region, Dow Jones reported.

In Australia, Toyota will initially spend $A47 million to establish a research and development centre in Melbourne, while in Thailand it will spend 2.7 billion baht to establish a base in Samut Prakan Province, reports said.

"The research and development base will have the ability over time to design vehicles from the ground up that are specifically designed for local Australian and Asian markets," Toyota Australia President Ken Asano said in a statement cited by Dow Jones.

Toyota Australia also ships cars to the Middle East, New Zealand and South Africa.

The centres will have a staff of 240, mainly engineers, in Thailand and 90 in Australia when they open in late 2004 and will design, test and evaluate new models and new versions of existing cars. The staff number is expected to increase to 600 by 2006, Dow Jones said.

Eiichi Omura, who will be president of the technical center's Thai branch told Dow Jones the centre will work to develop two models annually, with the first output expected in 2006, likely starting with a small passenger car model in Toyota's Vios range.