PRINCETON, Ind. - Toyota will invest $100 million and add 300 jobs by 2016 to its Indiana manufacturing facility as part of an overall plan to expand production of its Highlander midsize sport utility vehicle.
According to the company, the investment and job additions allows Toyota to use existing capacity in North America while providing additional flexibility to adjust the company's product mix to meet changing customer demand.
“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 our outstanding products.”
Currently, Toyota Indiana builds the Highlander only in the West Plant alongside the Sequoia full-size sport utility vehicle. To meet increasing demand for Highlander, Toyota plans on boosting annual production of the SUV by 30,000, which will be added to Toyota Indiana’s East Plant where the Sienna minivan is built.
Toyota's Indiana factory is the sole producer of Highlander in North America, and also exports the SUV to Australia, New Zealand and Eastern Europe. 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.
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.