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The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper covering industrial news, reported today that Japanese automakers are readying for a major advance into Mexico's auto market. The main reason -- the free trade agreement the two countries signed last April. Japanese autos are not only planning to export more, such as Honda (HMC) selling its Civic, Subaru sellings its Impreza, but Toyota (TM) plans to expand its production capacity and Nissan (NSANY) will begin manufacturing one of its compact car lines locally by the end of this year.

Nissan is currently the second leading auto in terms of sales in Mexico behind larger rival General Motors (GM). For the 2005 calendar year Nissan sold 235,000 autos in Mexico, but only recorded a 0.1% increase over 2004. However, Japan's big-3 are eyeing improving market conditions and an overall improving Mexico economy.

Toyota, in a press release in Japan on the 23rd (originally released on the 20th in Mexico) said that it plans to increase the annual output capacity of its plant in Tijuana to 50,000 Tacoma pickup trucks and 200,000 Tacoma truck beds from current levels of 30,000 and 180,000, respectively within 2007 at a cost of US$37 million.

Source: Japanese Automakers Eye Mexico (HMC, NSANY, TM)