Toyota announced it plans a substantial expansion of its production base in mainland China, as it as it looks to make ground on key rivals such as General Motors and Volkswagen in the world’s largest vehicle market.

Speaking on the eve of the Bejing show, the head of Toyota’s China operations – Hiroji Onishi – acknowledged that his company failed to match the investments of its competitors over the last 10 years.

He pointed out that even though Toyota’s sales volumes have increased each year in this period, its market share has almost halved from peak levels as its competitors have expanded aggressively in this market. 

Onishi added the company needs to “at least” double capacity to over 2m units per year in the medium term if it is to make up some lost ground on the two dominant groups in this market.

Of the almost 22m vehicles sold in China last year, Volkswagen group sold 3.27m units, General Motors and its joint ventures 3.16m; Nissan 1.27m; Hyundai just over 1.05m; and Ford 936,000. 

Toyota’s sales of 917,000 units, through its join ventures with FAW Group and Guangzhou Automobile Group, further underperformed the overall market last year.

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Onishi hinted existing facilities in Changchun and Chengdu could be expanded, without giving any further details.