Toy­ota Ge­orge­town plant to pro­duce two hy­brid ve­hi­cles

Lexington Herald-Leader - - Front Page -

Toy­ota’s Ge­orge­town plant will build the hy­brid Rav4 crossover SUV and the hy­brid Lexus ES in a $238 mil­lion new in­vest­ment, com­pany of­fi­cials re­vealed Thurs­day.

The Ge­orge­town plant ad­di­tions are part of $750 mil­lion in new in­vest­ment in pro­duc­tion in five states.

Toy­ota Mo­tor Man­u­fac­tur­ing Ken­tucky was al­ready Toy­ota’s largest ve­hi­cle plant in the world, ca­pa­ble of mak­ing 550,000 ve­hi­cles and 600,000 en­gines an­nu­ally, ac­cord­ing to the com­pany.

“To­day’s ex­cit­ing an­nounce­ment shows Toy­ota’s recog­ni­tion and con­tin­ued trust in the high-level skills and ex­per­tise of our fan­tas­tic team here in Ken­tucky,” said Toy­ota Ken­tucky Pres­i­dent Su­san Elk­ing­ton. “The pro­duc­tion changes an­nounced to­day are cen­tered upon our com­mit­ment to meet chang­ing cus­tomer de­sires by di­ver­si­fy­ing the types of prod­ucts our team mem­bers build here in Ge­orge­town.“

The Lexus ES 300h hy­brid will be­gin pro­duc­tion in May with an an­nual ca­pac­ity of 12,000 ve­hi­cles. The Rav4 hy­brid will be made start­ing in Jan­uary 2020 with an an­nual ca­pac­ity of 100,000 ve­hi­cles, Toy­ota said.

“We are es­pe­cially grate­ful that work­ers in Cen­tral Ken­tucky will not only ben­e­fit from the strong con­sumer mar­ket for SUVs by pro­duc­ing the RAV4 Hy­brid start­ing in

Jan­uary 2020 but also from the Lexus ES 300 Hy­brid pro­duc­tion this year,” U.S. Sen. Mitch Mc­Connell, R-Ken­tucky, said in pre­pared re­marks.

Toy­ota cur­rently man­u­fac­tures the Camry, Avalon, Lexus ES 350, Camry hy­brid and Avalon hy­brid at the Ge­orge­town fa­cil­ity. Four-cylin­der and V-6 en­gines are also built at the site.

The plant was built as Toy­ota’s first “whol­ly­owned ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­tur­ing plant” in the United States. The first Camry came off the line in May 1988, and in 2016, the op­er­a­tion cel­e­brated its 30-year an­niver­sary since ground was bro­ken at the site.

Now, more than 8,000 work­ers are em­ployed at the roughly 8 mil­lion­square-foot fa­cil­ity on more than 1,300 acres.

In 2017, Toy­ota an­nounced it was put­ting $1.33 bil­lion in the Ge­orge­town plant to up­grade to Toy­ota’s New Global Ar­chi­tec­ture, which uses the same un­der­ly­ing plat­form across groups of ve­hi­cles while the up­per ve­hi­cle bod­ies dif­fer by mod­els.

The com­pany got mil­lions in state tax in­cen­tives when it up­graded the plant for the new process. At the time, the av­er­age to­tal hourly com­pen­sa­tion for jobs at the plant was $45.47 — more than $90,000 a year for 40 hours of work a week,, ac­cord­ing to state doc­u­ments.

The en­tire plant was a $7 bil­lion in­vest­ment, the com­pany said be­fore Thurs­day’s an­nounce­ment.

In ad­di­tion to the changes in Ge­orge­town, Toy­ota’s plans also in­clude:

$288 mil­lion for in­creas­ing an­nual en­gine ca­pac­ity at Toy­ota’s Huntsville, Ala., fa­cil­ity. The plant will add 450 jobs to ac­com­mo­date new four-cylin­der and V6 en­gine pro­duc­tion lines. Last year Toy­ota and Mazda an­nounced plans to build a $1.6 bil­lion joint-ven­ture plant in Huntsville that will even­tu­ally em­ploy about 4,000 peo­ple.

$62 mil­lion on equip­ment to boost pro­duc­tion of Toy­ota and Lexus cylin­der heads at Toy­ota’s Bo­dine Alu­minum fa­cil­ity in Troy, Mo..

$50 mil­lion to ex­pand and up­grade equip­ment at a Bo­dine plant in Jack­son, Tenn. That will add 13 jobs and pro­duce en­gine blocks while dou­bling the ca­pac­ity of hy­brid transaxle cases and hous­ings.

$111 mil­lion for equip­ment and ex­pan­sion of a plant in Buf­falo, W. Va., to dou­ble the ca­pac­ity of hy­brid transaxles. That would cre­ate 123 jobs

Pre­vi­ously, Toy­ota also an­nounced a $600 mil­lion in­vest­ment at its Prince­ton, Ind., plant to in­crease the ca­pac­ity of its High­lander SUV and global ar­chi­tec­ture. There was also $170 mil­lion tar­geted to launch the 2020 Corolla on a new pro­duc­tion line in Blue Springs, Miss.

“These lat­est in­vest­ments rep­re­sent even more ex­am­ples of our long-term com­mit­ment to build where we sell,” Jim Lentz, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer for Toy­ota Mo­tor North Amer­ica said Thurs­day in a writ­ten state­ment.

MAR­CUS DORSEY [email protected]­ald-leader.com

The Toy­ota Rav4 hy­brid was on dis­play at the Ge­orge­town plant where it will be built start­ing next year, the com­pany an­nounced Thurs­day. The plant also will be mak­ing the Lexus ES hy­brid.

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