Toyota to hike annual production of 6-speed transmission at Buffalo site

Article by Anita Panait, on March 4, 2012

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.

In January at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show, the Japanese carmaker unveiled the all-new 2013 Toyota Land Cruiser sport utility vehicle (SUV), which can be availed at a stating manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $77,955 (does not include the delivery, processing and handling fee of $810).

According to Toyota, the 2013 Land Cruiser receives more than $2,500 in new and updated equipment. It features an updated front grille and headlamps with HID low-beams, LED Daytime Running Lights, chrome side molding as well as redesigned outer side mirrors and tail lamps.

Equipped as standard are performance and safety features sunch five-speed CRAWL control with Off-Road Turn Assist, Multi-Terrain Anti-lock Brakes with Electronic Brake Distribution, Multi-Terrain Select, Pre-Collision System, Trailer Sway Control, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control as well as a retuned suspension. The 2013 Land Cruiser is served by a 5.7-liter V8 DOHC engine that delivers 381 hp of output at 5,600 rpm and 401 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,600 rpm.

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