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Toyota to lower luxury car prices in line with China tariff cut

Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda (Mainich)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Toyota Motor Corp. plans to lower the prices of its luxury Lexus brand cars exported to China following the decision of the world's second-largest economy to cut import tariffs on passenger cars from July, an official of the automaker said Tuesday.

Japan's largest carmaker by volume will decide on the level of the price cuts by the end of this month, the official said, as other automakers in the country also welcomed Beijing's decision to slash import duties to 15 percent from the current 25 percent.

"Toyota will promptly cut the prices of exported cars and take steps so that competitive products will be offered to Chinese consumers," said a Toyota public relations official.

Toyota exported 146,000 vehicles to China in 2017, of which around 130,000 were Lexus brand cars.

But the impact of the tariff cut on sales of exported cars in China may be limited as Japanese automakers have largely shifted to local production.

At Nissan Motor Co., which sold around 1.52 million units in China in 2017, the highest among Japanese automakers, exports from Japan account for less than 1 percent of total sales in China.

Honda Motor Co. has also boosted production of sedans and sports utility vehicles in China to match local preferences.

China's Finance Ministry announced the tariff cut on Tuesday as a step toward policy reform and opening up. It comes after U.S. President Donald Trump called on Beijing to cut high tariffs on imported cars.

The ministry also said China will reduce tariffs on 79 automobile parts to 6 percent from 8-25 percent now.

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