Toyota is increasing the annual production of the six-speed automatic transmissions at its Buffalo, W.Va., site by 120,000 units to 520,000 units. The company will invest $45 million to increase the site’s production capacity, which will result in the creation of 80 more jobs at the Buffalo site. The site currently produces transmissions for the Toyota Camry, Sienna, Avalon and Venza and the Lexus RX 350, the company said in a statement.
The six-speed automatic transmission is also produced in Japan and at AW North Carolina, a unit of Japan-based Aisin Seiko Co. which supplies drive train components.
A Toyota spokeswoman said the announcement refers to “an incremental volume increase” and would not result to shifting production away from other sites. The statement could be some sort of defense from Toyota’s current strategy of shifting away its manufacturing operations away from its Japanese headquarters to offset the strength of the yen and the increased cost of business associated with it.
Asked whether the move was related to the yen’s increasing value, a company spokeswoman said, “Toyota’s philosophy is to produce where we sell” adding that because there is more demand for 6-speed automatic transmissions, and the car maker is adding volume. In February Reuters reported that Toyota was studying the possibility exporting cars from Europe to South Korea.
The recent investment announcement was similar to last month’s disclosure of Toyota North America COO Yoshimi Inaba. Inaba told the Economic Club of Chicago that Toyota is making a $400 million investment in its Princeton, Ind., site to produce a hybrid version of the Highlander crossover. Following the upgrade of the plant, the production of hybrid Highlander will be shifted away from Japan to the plant by late 2013.