Toyota announced this week that it would invest up to ¥10 billion ($96 million) to help fund development of Japan’s first ever commercial passenger jet. The new project is being set-up by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and along with Toyota is being funded by Japanese firms Mitsui and Sumitomo as well as the government-controlled Development Bank of Japan.

The aim of project is to build and market Japan’s first ever commercial passenger jet, which is expected to seat between 70 and 90 people and go on sale in 2013. The new plane is expected to compete with other small passenger planes from the likes of Canada's Bombardier and Brazil's Embraer and already it has 25 firm orders from All Nippon Airways, reports The Nikkei.

Toyota said its motivation for the project was primarily patriotic but it also gives the carmaker a chance to expand its operations into different segments. It also removes the edge Toyota’s main rival, Honda, has with its own line of HondaJet private aircraft.

A spokeswoman for Toyota said the carmaker already has a small aerospace research team as well as a robotics unit and is always looking at areas where it can diversify.