Mazda Motor plans to increase production capacity in China to meet growing demand in what has become the world’s biggest car market.

Chief financial officer Kiyoshi Ozaki told Bloomberg News the company needed to expand current capacity although he did not indicate by how much.

Mazda is expecting to boost its China sales 22% this year as economic growth spurs demand.  It has a joint venture in the country with Ford and Chongqing Changan Automobile which operates two plants.

Mazda also makes cars though local partner FAW Car. In total, the Japanese automaker produced 173,788 vehicles in China last year and plans to sell 220,000 vehicles there this year.

It joins other Japanese carmakers in expanding production capability in China. Honda’s venture with Dongfeng Motor Group said last month it would invest CNY1.15 bn (US$168m) to build a second plant which will begin production in the second half of 2012.

Nissan is expanding its plant in Guangdong province to increase production to 600,000 vehicles annually from 430,000.

Ozaki told Bloomberg that Mazda’s alliance with Ford would continue to be pivotal. “Ford needs Mazda and we need Ford.”

In 2008, amid the credit crunch, Ford cut its stake in Mazda to 11% from 33% to raise cash.