Toyota Motor Corp. says Mexico is the leading contender for Toyota’s fifth North American assembly plant, the head of the company’s U.S. sales unit said on Dec. 5, Reuters reported. Mexico is considered one of the sites for the truck facility because of its participation in the North American Free Trade Agreement with the United States and Canada, said Yoshi Inaba, chief executive of Toyota Motor Sales USA based in Torrance, CA. Toyota already has plants in Cambridge, Ontario; Georgetown, KY; Princeton, IN; and one in Fremont, California, jointly operated with General Motors Corp. Newspapers in Japan have reported that Toyota management has already settled on Mexico for the production facility, but the company has repeatedly said no decision has been made on where to locate the plant, expected to begin producing Tacoma pickup trucks by 2004. In another sign of its increasing confidence in Mexico, Inaba said Toyota will establish its first new sales network in the country since the 1960s. Toyota will begin its Mexico push with the opening of six dealerships, including four in Mexico City, on April 1. The company has set a modest sales target of about 5,000 units for calendar 2003. Its Mexico product line is expected to consist mostly of U.S.-made cars, particularly its mainstay Corolla and Camry models. The company is expected to make a formal, more detailed announcement this week about its new Mexican sales initiative.