Toyota Indiana plans to invest $100 million to expand its operations campus in Princeton, Indiana, creating up to 300 new jobs by 2016.
The company will invest $100 million to boost production of the Highlander midsize sport utility vehicle at its Princeton plant. Since production of the third-generation Highlander began in the Indiana plant in December 2013, sales have been strong. From January through July 2014, Toyota sold about 90,000 Highlanders, an increase of 16 percent over the same period the previous year.
Currently, Toyota Indiana builds the Highlander only in the West Plant alongside the Sequoia full-size sport utility vehicle. To meet increasing demand for the Highlander, annual production of up to 30,000 of the midsize SUVs will be added to Toyota Indiana’s East Plant where the Sienna minivan is built. This step allows Toyota to utilize existing capacity in North America while providing additional flexibility to adjust its product mix to meet changing customer demand. This expansion will bring Toyota Indiana’s overall investment to $4 billion.
“The Highlander has been a great product for our plant,” said Norm Bafunno, President of Toyota Indiana. “Establishing Highlander as the ‘bridge vehicle,’ as we call it, between the East and West plants increases our ability to meet customer needs for all of our outstanding products. This exciting news is a true testament to the capability of our hard-working and dedicated team members.”
Established in Gibson County in 1996, Toyota's Princeton plant was the second recognized wholly-owned Toyota plant in North America. Toyota Indiana, the sole producer of Highlander in North America, also exports it to Australia, New Zealand and Eastern Europe. The Sienna is shipped to South Korea, Pacific islands and other countries, and the Sequoia is exported to the Middle East, making the Indiana plant a global supply base for SUVs and minivans. Toyota Indiana currently employs approximately 4,700 associates, of which approximately 84 percent are Hoosiers.
“Indiana is a state that works when it comes to building the cars that keep America moving forward,” said Governor Mike Pence. “Hoosier-built products like the Toyota Highlander are known around the world for their precision and quality. And with suppliers in all corners of the state, Toyota is helping to strengthen and grow Indiana’s economy.”
The Indiana Economic Development Corporation offered Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana, Inc. up to $350,000 in training grants based on the company's job creation plans. These incentives are performance-based, meaning until Hoosiers are hired, the company is not eligible to claim incentives. Gibson County supports the project at the request of the Gibson County Economic Development Corporation.
"We are thankful for the investment Toyota has made in their Princeton operation,” said Princeton Mayor Robert Hurst. “Toyota continues to show confidence in their Gibson County team members who build three of the best made automobiles in the world. We support TMMI and their suppliers as they are invaluable to our region."