Inventing $600 million, creating 400 new jobs at Indiana plant

Toyota is the latest automaker to announce sizeable investment and expansions to its U.S. vehicle assembly operations. It will pour $600 million into expanding its Princeton, Indiana assembly plant, which builds the Highlander, Sequoia, and Sienna. An additional 400 jobs will accompany the expansion. The project will being in 2019.

This follows Ford Motor Company and General Motors, among others, announcing plans to expand U.S. factories and create jobs for U.S. workers rather than outsourcing these expansions in other countries, namely Mexico.

Automakers are reacting to President Donald Trump’s vocal distain for the North American Free Trade Agreement. President Trump says the NAFTA deal allows for companies to ship jobs and investment outside the U.S., giving Americans an unfair lot. Talks of abolishing, or at least renegotiating NAFTA – or at worst, tariffs for vehicles imported to the U.S., have automakers worried.

Toyota’s expansion of the Princeton plant will allow it to make an additional 40,000 Highlanders annually. More than 400,000 Highlanders were assembled there in 2016, breaking all records in the plant’s 20-year history.

Millie Marshall, president of Toyota Indiana, said, “The Highlander has been a great vehicle for our plant and we are excited to deliver even more of them to our loyal customers. This is a true testament to our team members and their dedication to producing quality vehicles.”

This is only part of a larger investment Toyota has pledged for its U.S. operations. Jim Lentz, the CEO of Toyota Motor North America announced at the Detroit Auto Show that Toyota would invest some $10 billion in the U.S. over the next five years in a move to make its existing plants more competitive.

Most Toyota vehicles sold in the U.S. are built inside the U.S. Those not include the 4Runner, Land Cruiser, Prius, Yaris, RAV4, and Lexus RX. Other models like the Corolla and Tacoma are built both inside the U.S. and locations outside its borders.

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Why It Matters

Toyota is undoubtedly trying to put its name on the right side of this debate. Trump has not been scared to denounce automakers for outsourcing, including the most prominent case of Ford planning to move jobs and its small-car production from Michigan to Mexico. Ford has since changed its plans and announced investments in U.S. manufacturing, but not without a few social bruises.

Not only does Toyota’s news mean 400 new jobs and a more efficient assembly plant in Indiana, but it also means Toyota expects to sell 10 percent more Highlanders in the future. U.S. buyers are snatching up crossovers and SUVs at a more rapid rate than ever before, and Toyota certainly wants to have vehicles ready to sell.

Press Release

Toyota Indiana knows how to ring in the New Year! The company will add 400 jobs at the plant in Princeton, investing $600 million to meet the strong and growing demand for the Highlander midsize SUV and modernize the entire plant. The investment will be used for retooling, new equipment and advanced technologies to make the plant more competitive. The project is scheduled to begin in fall 2019 and will add 40,000 Highlanders annually.

This expansion project is part of Toyota’s localization strategy to build vehicles where they are sold. During the 2017 North American International Auto Show, Jim Lentz, chief executive officer, Toyota Motor North America, announced that the company would, “invest an additional $10 billion in the U.S. over the next five years. This investment will be used to make the existing plants even more competitive.”

Toyota Joins Growing List of Automakers Refocusing on U.S. Operations
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This announcement shows Toyota’s commitment to continued U.S. investment. The Princeton, Indiana plant produced over 400,000 vehicles last year, the highest in its 20-year history. “The Highlander has been a great vehicle for our plant and we are excited to deliver even more of them to our loyal customers,” said Millie Marshall, president of Toyota Indiana. “This is a true testament to our team members and their dedication to producing quality vehicles.”

The third-generation Highlander made its debut at the Indiana plant in 2013 and has continually exceeded customer expectations. The Highlander received the 2017 Top Safety Pick+ award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recognizing good crash protection across the board.

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