Bucking the market trend, Toyota will be accelerating the production schedule of an SUV. Toyota announced today that production of the Highlander SUV will be moved up six months. "We need to get those people working. That’s the bottom line," said Steve St. Angelo, senior vice president of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America Inc.
The Highlander makes the most sense out of all of Toyota’s SUVs because it is the one currently offering a hybrid version that can attract sales. Slow sales has already caused Toyota to halt production until November of the large Tundra pickup and Sequoia SUV at the plants Princeton, Indiana, and San Antonio, Texas. The new plant in Tupelo, Mississippi, that was originally slated to make the Highlander will now make the Prius instead.
Unlike most of the U.S. auto companies, Toyota is giving a more optimistic view for the future at its U.S. plants that currently produce trucks. "I don’t anticipate us laying off any people," St. Angelo said. "Hopefully – and I can’t predict the future — the bad stuff is behind us, and we can stabilize, train and pick up again in a month or so."