BRUSSELS - Toyota will choose the location of its second European factory from among five finalists. The plant is likely to be built in southern Europe, though locations in northern France and near Hambach, in Alsace-Lorraine, France, are still being considered.
Toyota will build a new mini car at the plant. The car will go on sale in 18 months.
Production will rise to 200,000 units annually after 2000.
The site will be chosen within several weeks. Initial offers came from 20 locations in 13 countries, but have been narrowed to five, said Alan Marsh, vice chairman of Toyota Motor Europe.
Toyota would not disclose the finalists. Sources say that one is Hambach near Daimler-Benz's new Micro Compact Car factory. But Toyota insiders said that other locations in southern Europe - the heart of the small car market - have the inside track.
The small car is code-named NBC for 'new B car.' It will be similar to the Funtime four-door concept shown at the Frankfurt auto show in September. A coupe version has been approved. Marsh said a van is likely to follow.
Toyota's European studio in Brussels designed the car. Japanese engineers devised the all-new platform.