ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA-Toyota Motor Corp. (Tokyo) is building its first manufacturing plant in Russia as part of an effort to tap into the country's rapid economic growth.

The new plant, to be located in St. Petersburg's Shushary district, will have an initial annual production capacity of approximately 50,000 units. It will begin production by building the Camry-already a strong seller in Russia-at a pace of about 20,000 units per year.

The plant is scheduled to ramp up in December 2007. Toyota has secured approximately 220 hectares of land to accommodate future expansions of the facility. The company is planning an initial investment of $140 million and predicts the plant will create about 500 jobs.

In 2004, Toyota sold 47,000 vehicles in Russia, including Toyota's Camry, Corolla, Avensis, RAV4 and the Land Cruiser 100 models, as well as a number of Lexus-brand vehicles.