Toyota Motor Corporation will build an export-oriented automatic transmission manufacturing facility in Karnataka, at its Qualis utility vehicle manufacturing facility near Bangalore, India#;s Financial Express newspaper reported on its website.

The newspaper said that a high level committee of the state government has cleared the proposal and cited Karnataka#;s large and medium industries minister RV Deshpande as saying that the project would start commercial production in 2004 with trial production due by the end of next year.

The Financial Express aid Toyota would export automatic transmissions to Argentina, South Africa, Thailand, Malaysia, Venezula, Taiwan and Indonesia and would be developed as a major source with investments of $500 million to $700 million in the second phase and $400 million in the third phase, according to state additional chief secretary BS Patil. The investments would be made by 2004 and 2007.

Citing Patil, the Financial Express said chose Karnataka after considering Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines.

The Financial Express also said that Toyota Kirloskar was planning special edition versions of the Qualis multi-utility vehicle (MUV) to boost sales.

Recent labour problems reduced January production by 55 percent drop to 918 units compared with 2,072 units in January 2001 while sales dropped 30 percent to 1,408 units from 2,018 units though company officials claimed the strike had a marginal impact on Qualis sales, the Financial Express said.

Toyota has has some success selling the Qualis to police forces, the newspaper said, adding that Toyota plans to introduce the Camry in the premium segment by the last quarter of the current year and the Prado sport utility vehicle by the first quarter of next year.

Toyota is also working on the specifications of its second unique vehicle for the Indian market. “It will be a car model. We are, currently, working on the specifications and the details,” a company official told the Financial Express.

Toyota Motor Corporation general manager (India Projects) Shozo Hasebe told the newspaper: “We will follow our global policy of not manufacturing small cars in India also. Toyota will be looking at the 1.3 litre above category.”