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PSA Peugeot Citroen CEO open to expand mini-car collaboration beyond Toyota

PSA Peugeot Citroen Chief Executive Officer Carlos Tavares attends a hearing at the National Assembly in Paris April 15, 2015. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

By Norihiko Shirouzu

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - French automaker PSA Peugeot Citroen (PEUP.PA) is open to bringing in more partners to its existing collaboration with Toyota Motor Corp<7203.T> to share the cost of designing and manufacturing mini-cars, according to its chief executive.

Carlos Tavares, PSA Peugeot Citroen's chief since last year, said the company's current cooperation with Toyota is "moving very smoothly, very collaboratively," but he is also inclined to expand the collaboration to include more automakers to spread costs further.

Taraves said he wishes to keep PSA Peugeot Citroen's cost-sharing effort with Toyota in mini-cars sustained.

"Our intention is to continue with Toyota," he told a small group of reporters earlier this week on the sidelines of the Shanghai auto show that opened on Monday.

"Now if there are other (automakers) who want to join, of course I would have to discuss it with my partner Toyota...but PSA's position is, yes, we're open to bringing in other partners who would like to share (costs)."

A Toyota spokesman in Tokyo did not respond to calls requesting comment.

"To make A-segment cars, it's better to have the kind of grouping of several (automakers) that are going to share a given investment and then make derivatives out of the common investment," Tavares said.

Toyota and PSA Peugeot Citroen designed mini-cars mostly for markets within Europe and have been producing them at a jointly-run plant in the Czech Republic since 2005. The plant currently has capacity to manufacture 340,000 cars a year for all three brands: Toyota, Peugeot and Citroen, according to Toyota.

Toyota markets a derivative of the jointly developed car as the Aygo, Peugeot as the 108, and Citroen as the C1. Toyota sold about 71,000 Aygo cars in 2014.

"Nowadays, of course, business conditions are so tough that getting together to share investments and share manufacturing capacity to make sure that you can make business plans that fly makes sense for everyone," Taraves told reporters.

"We are very pragmatic, and we're very open."

(Editing by Ryan Woo)