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Asia Minute: Toyota Bets $2 Billion on Clean Cars in China

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Trade talks between the United States and China remain a focus for global financial markets, as they have been for much of the week. But there’s other trade news involving China this week — and it’s a story involving billions of dollars and renewable energy.

Japan’s largest automaker is putting another couple of billion dollars into China.

Toyota will spend 2.2 billion dollars on electric vehicles and hybrids – as well as engine production.

That word came Thursday from Toyota’s Chinese partner, the Guangzhou Automobile Group, and was reported widely in both Japanese and Chinese media. The latest push in China by Japanese automakers.

Last year, Nissan started its first Chinese production line of a battery-powered compact car. And Honda has announced it is increasing its production of clean energy vehicles in the country.

Those corporate plans follow greener consumer trends.

The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers reports that sales of electric and hybrid vehicles in China jumped by more than 60% last year alone. The industry group projects they’ll grow further this year by nearly a third.

Overall, auto sales in China actually fell last year, for the first time in nearly twenty years.

But for Japanese automakers it was a year of gains for market share.

More than 20% of cars sold in China last year were made by a Japanese company, and while Japanese automakers still sell more cars in the United States than in any other country, last year China became the number two market – surpassing the domestic market in Japan.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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