Toyota Motor Corp. announced Thursday it is investing an additional $750 million at five U.S. plants that will add nearly 600 jobs, including the production of two hybrid vehicles for the first time at its Kentucky facility.
It marks yet another expansion of the Japanese automaker’s U.S. presence, bringing to nearly $13 billion the amount it will spend by 2021.
The latest investments are at facilities in Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee and West Virginia. Those same facilities were part of a 2017 announcement by Toyota for a $374 million investment to support production of its first American-made hybrid powertrain.
President Donald Trump congratulated Toyota on Twitter and tried to tie the announcement to his efforts on trade.
Referring to an agreement with Canada and Mexico that would replace the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement, Trump said: “BIG NEWS for U.S. Auto Workers! The USMCA is already fixing the broken NAFTA deal.”
The revised version of NAFTA negotiated by the Trump administration, regarded by many as a modest recasting of the original agreement, has not been approved by Congress.
The president made no mention when a Chevrolet Cruze factory in Ohio recently closed, the first of five North American plants that GM intends to shut down by early next year.
Toyota Motor North America CEO Jim Lentz said the latest investments “represent even more examples of our long-term commitment to build where we sell. By boosting our U.S. manufacturing footprint, we can better serve our customers and dealers and position our manufacturing plants for future success with more domestic capacity.”
Toyota’s Georgetown, Ky., facility will get a $238 million infusion to produce hybrid versions of Lexus ES 300 sedans starting in May and the RAV4 SUV starting in January 2020, the company announced.
It also includes $288 million to increase annual engine capacity at Toyota’s Huntsville, Ala., facility. The plant will add 450 jobs to accommodate new four-cylinder and V6 engine production lines. Last year Toyota and Mazda announced plans to build a $1.6 billion joint-venture plant in Huntsville that will eventually employ about 4,000 people.
Toyota also is spending $62 million on equipment to boost production of Toyota and Lexus cylinder heads at its Bodine Aluminum facility in Troy, Mo., as part of its cost-saving New Global Architecture production strategy to share common parts and components among different vehicles.
A $50 million expansion and equipment upgrade at a Bodine plant in Jackson, Tenn., will add 13 jobs and produce engine blocks while doubling the capacity of hybrid transaxle cases and housings.
And Toyota will add 123 jobs and spend $111 million to expand its plant and buy equipment in Buffalo, W.Va., to double the capacity of hybrid transaxles.
Previously, Toyota also announced a $600 million investment at its Princeton, Ind., plant to increase the capacity of its Highlander SUV and to incorporate the new production strategy, and $170 million to launch the 2020 Corolla on a new production line in Blue Springs, Miss.