Toyota is expected to spend some US$330-440m on a new R&D centre near Shanghai to develop vehicles specifically for the Chinese market, the Nikkei newspaper reported without citing a source.

If approved by the Chinese authorities, work is expected to start on the centre which will include a full test track early in 2010. This will make Toyota the first Japanese automaker to establish a Chinese research and development centre funded solely by itself, according to the Nikkei.

The new facility would employ local engineers to help Toyota pick up on local trends as the company moves away from its 'one size fits all' policy of selling the same models worldwide and starts to tailor vehicles to suit better local tastes and requirements.