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Toyota’s joint venture in the Chinese city of Guangzhou has held a line-off ceremony to mark the start of production of the 2.4-litre AZ petrol engine for use in the Camry sedan.

Reuters noted that the venture, Guangqi Toyota Engine Co., was formed last year with Guangzhou Automobile Group Co. in the city in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong.

”It is my fervent hope that GTE will live up to everyone’s expectations and become one of the foremost engine factories in the world,” Toyota Motor executive vice president Yoshimi Inaba reportedly said of the venture’s future at the ceremony.

Reuters said the venture’s current engine output capacity stands at 300,000 units a year. Toyota and Guangzhou Automobile plan to hike the annual capacity to 500,000 units in 2006.

In 2004, Toyota and Guangzhou Automobile set up an automobile factory, Guangzhou Toyota Motor Co., to start production of the Camry powered by 2.4- and 2.0-liter AZ engines in mid-2006, the report added.