The largest Japanese automaker has announced plans to shift production of its Camry and Highlander hybrids from Japan to factories in Georgetown, and Princeton, U.S.
Currently, about 70% of the vehicles Toyota sells in the U.S. are assembled in the U.S., Canada or Mexico. Earlier this year the company said it would begin making the Lexus ES 350 in Georgetown, from 2015. Also, Bob Carter, Toyota’s top U.S. sales executive, said he would love to see the day when the automaker builds some of its three Prius hybrids in North America. For now, all three models of the Prius – the world’s most popular hybrid – are built in Japan.
“I think with our corporate philosophy, it is inevitable,” said Bob Carter, senior vice president for Toyota Motor Sales. “We just don’t know when. Nothing has been green-lighted at this point.”
“It’s part of an overall corporate philosophy of build where you sell,” Carter said. “Part of the the reason for that is that it shields you from currency fluctuations.”
Toyota said today it will invest $28 million and hire about 60 workers at technical centers near Ann Arbor. The money will enhance the company’s ability to design and test engines and transmissions. The automaker also is giving engineers in Ann Arbor responsibility for new cars, minivans and trucks. Chief engineers based in Ann Arbor led the development on new versions of the Toyota Avalon, Sienna, Venza and Tundra.
Toyota’s U.S. market share jumped from 12.9% in 2011 to 14.4% in 2012. And, for the past two months, Toyota has outsold Ford in the U.S.