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Toyota has announced that it will be making a $100 million investment in its Princeton, IN factory in a bid to increase production of its popular Highlander CUV. The move will create 300 new jobs by 2016 and increase the total number of crossovers the plant can produce by 30,000.
Toyota currently builds the Highlander, alongside the fullsize Sequoia, at Toyota Indiana's West Plant. The additional capacity, though, will be sent to the East Plant, which is currently responsible for production of the recently refreshed Sienna minivan.
"The Highlander has been a great product for our plant," Toyota Indiana President Norm Bafunno said in a statement. "Establishing Highlander as the 'bridge vehicle,' as we call it, between the East and West plants increases our ability to meet customer needs for our outstanding products. This exciting news is a true testament to the capability of our hard-working and dedicated team members."
Indiana seems like the place to be if you're looking for work in a car factory. In May, Subaru announced plans to invest $400 million in its Lafayette, Indiana plant, creating 900 new jobs in the process and increasing capacity to 300,000 units per year. Now, Toyota has announced plans to invest $30 million in its Princeton, Indiana plant, 170 miles south of the Subaru factory, which also builds the Camry.
Toyota's investment will create an additional 200 jobs and increase the factory's volume by 15,000 units. Toyota announced an investment in the plant in February of 2012 that bumped volume up from 300,000 to 350,000 units. Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana, as the Princeton facility is officially known, produces the recently revised Toyota Highlander, the Sequoia and the Sienna. It employs 4,500 people, and this announcement represents Toyota's tenth production increase in under two years.
Scroll down below for the official announcement.
Toyota is looking to get bigger... by going smaller. The Japanese automaker is looking to enter the kei car market, a popular segment in its homeland. Kei cars are small vehicles with restrictions on length (11.15 feet), width (4.86 feet), engine size (660 cubic centimeters) and power output (63 horsepower). Currently, Toyota is the only Japanese automaker not producing vehicles for this segment, but that is set to change, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.
Thanks to its relationship with Daihatsu, Toyota can jump right into the kei car game. Daihatsu is one of the largest producer of kei vehicles and it is currently owned by Toyota.
Although kei cars are restricted in terms of size and power, they are not restricted by technology. Automakers utilize different drive configurations, powertrains and amenities to keep their cars fresh. Daihatsu and Toyota plan to work together to produce Toyota-branded kei cars. The two companies will utilize Toyota's knowledge of electric and hybrid systems to produce efficient little vehicles for the Japanese market.