The Toyota Highlander has long been built in the automaker's home country of Japan, but times are changing as the value of the Japanese yen continues to soar. The new Highlander will move its production to the United States, and Toyota has stated it will invest $400 million to expand its Princeton, Indiana plant that already constructs the vehicle stateside.
The expansion won't be complete until next year, at which time the Toyota Highlander vehicles will be exported from Indiana to places like Australia and Russia. The current Kyushu, Japan plant will stop producing the model altogether at this time. The move will add four hundred positions to the Indiana plant and will allow the company to produce an additional 50-thousand units annually (including a new hybrid version of the vehicle). Yoshimi Inaba, Chief Operating Officer for Toyota North America explained the impact the expansion will make, stating it is "great news for [the] region, for our American customers, and for the U.S economy because every auto job creates 3 1/2 'spin off' jobs that support those workers."1
Toyota has also extended production at its new Mississippi plant with a second shift to reduce Toyota Corolla imports from Japan. Ianaba explains, "Our exports of 'made-in-America' products to 21 countries have topped 100,000 vehicles, and we've just begun exporting American Camry sedans and Sienna minivans to South Korea."2
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