Toyota to shift more production of its Highlander SUV to its Indiana assembly plant

Article by Christian Andrei, on August 25, 2010

Motivated by a goal to completely localize production for North America, Toyota Motor Corp. plans to move more production of its Highlander SUV to its Indiana assembly plant. Toyota wants to lessen its exposure to foreign exchange losses on imports.

Production of the Highlander started at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana Inc. last fall but it still continues to import units from the Kyushu, Japan plant. From January to April, about 17% (1,165 units) of the 7,026 Highlanders sold in the US were imports.

Spokesman Paul Nolasco confirmed Toyota's plan to shift all Highlander production for North America to Indiana.

However, the hybrid Highlanders or Highlanders that will be sold in Australia would still be made in Kyushu. Nolasco described this plan to be in line with the trend "to build more products where [it] sell[s]."

When Toyota reduces imports and produces more vehicles in the US, the impact of rapidly fluctuating foreign exchange rates is lessened. Nolasco declined to reveal when the shift would be complete or provide figures for volume.

According to Japan's Nikkan Kogyo business newspaper, Toyota's Kyushu plant would stop production of Highlanders for the US market in August. This shift will raise the production in Indiana of the Highlander to about 2,000 units each month.

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