Toyota Motor Corp. has announced it will relocate the remaining production of its Highlander SUV from Japan to its Princeton, Indiana, plant and start production of the "Highlander Hybrid" (gasoline-electric SUV) at the facility. The $400-million-dollar project is expected to create approximately 400 American jobs.
Specifically, Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana, Inc.--one of Toyota's U.S. production bases--will increase its annual production capacity by 50,000 units (from about 280,000/year to about 330,000/year) in the second half of 2013.
Some of the gasoline-engine Highlanders will be exported to Australia, Russia and other markets starting in the second half of 2013. Nearly 1.3 million units of the Highlander (introduced in 2001) and Highlander Hybrid (introduced in 2005) were sold in the North American market between 2001 through the end of 2011.
The company will stop building the Highlander in Japan beginning next year.
Gibson County is offering Toyota about $3.8 million in incentives, while the state is offering up to $2.7 million in conditional tax credits and up to $200,000 in job-creation-based training grants.
The Japanese automaker said the move will help it "capitalize on the improving North American and global auto market." Steve St. Angelo of Toyota North America added that the project is part of Toyota's "localization strategy to build vehicles where we sell them."
Toyota employs 4,800 associates at its Princeton facility. Currently workers there build the Sequoia SUV and the Sienna minivan in addition to the Highlander.