Toyota has applied to the US state of Nevada for a banking licence, spokesman Shigeru Hayakawa told Bloomberg News on Friday.

According to Bloomberg, Hayakawa said the company’s Toyota Financial Services unit applied for the licence last month to offer better services to its dealers and customers and expects the licence to be approved between April 2003 and April 2004.

Hayakawa told Bloomberg News that Toyota, which has about 2 trillion yen ($US16.4 billion) in cash reserves, wants to “offer better cash management to its Toyota and Lexus brand dealers, improve financial services and offer more financial products to sell cars.”

According to Bloomberg, Toyota also wants to offer personal loans and credit card services to Toyota and Lexus car buyers and, by applying for the licence in Nevada, the company can also set up a banking unit in California. In other states, companies applying for licences are required to set up units locally, the news agency added.

Bloomberg News said Toyota expects to increase operating profit from financial services by 46% to 100 billion yen, in 2005.