Toyota will fork out $US37.5m to build a new parts-painting plant and expand its stamping facilities at its Zarate factory located north of Buenos Aires.

"The construction of these new facilities heralds the beginning of a new growth stage [in Argentina]," the unit's president Anibal Borderes said, adding that it will continue to grow its Argentine operations to consolidate its presence in the Mercosur trading region.

Toyota expects to open the new 5,000m2 (paint) and 1,200m2 (stamping) facilities in the beginning and middle of 2007.

The paint shop will enable it to paint 80,000 front bumpers annually and the stamping project will step up output to 47 types daily from 12 currently, the company said.

Toyota also said Zarate will produce 65,000 cars this year, matching last year's forecast production.

The plant makes the Hilux pick-up truck for export to Latin America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Ivan Castano