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Toyota JV expects slowing sales

CAR maker Toyota expects sales growth in its venture with China's FAW Group to slow to 8 percent this year after a 25-percent jump last year.

The Tianjin FAW Toyota Automobile Co aims to sell 380,000 vehicles this year nationwide, compared to 350,000 last year, the company said. Last year's sales fell behind an earlier target of 400,000 units.

Satoru Mori, general manager of FAW Toyota expects China's vehicle market to remain sluggish in 2009 given the sagging global economy but will gradually recover in the second half.

FAW Toyota said that it would start making the RAV4 sport utility vehicle in China this year with annual sales targeted at 50,000 units. The model would take on Honda's CRV. FAW Toyota also produces the Corolla, Reiz and Vios in China.

China's vehicle market rose by 6.7 percent to 9.38 million units last year, the first single-digit growth since 1999 as the economic downturn affected vehicle demand and exports dropped as a result of the global financial crisis.

Toyota, the world's largest car maker, is increasingly turning to the Chinese market because of a 50-percent slump in sales in the United States.

The Japanese manufacturer aims to sell at least 700,000 vehicles in China in 2009. Last year it sold 585,000.

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