NEWYORK: Toyota Motor Corp said on Friday it had invested an additional $700 million and added 150 new jobs to complete a $1.3 billion modernisation program at its Princeton, Indiana factory.

The investment is part of a broader commitment from Japan’s biggest automaker to invest $13bn in its US operations over five years through 2021.

Including the $1.3bn in­­vestment at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing Ind­iana plant, the company has so far spent about $7.1bn of the total amount, Toyota said.

The refurbished TMMI plant, which has added 550 new jobs so far, will help Toyota meet strong demand for the Highlander, its new mid-size SUV.

The plant has over 7,000 employees and has the capacity to assemble more than 420,000 vehicles annually, the company said.

Toyota Motor Corp said on Friday it will move production of its mid-size Tacoma pick-up truck from the United States to Mexico as it adjusts production around North America.

The largest Japanese automaker also said it will end production of the Toyota Sequoia in Indiana by 2022 as that facility focuses on mid-size SUVs and minivans.

Toyota will shift production of the Sequoia in 2022 to Texas and that plant will end production of the Tacoma by late 2021.

Toyota has been building Tacoma trucks at its Baja California plant in Mexico since 2004. Last month, Toyota’s Guanajuato plant began assembly of the Tacoma.

Toyota said its production capacity for the Tacoma in Mexico will be about 266,000 per year. Last year, the automaker sold nearly 249,000 Tacoma pickup trucks in the United States, up 1.3 per cent.

Toyota said the product moves were to “improve the operational speed, competitiveness and transformation at its North American vehicle assembly plants based on platforms and common architectures.”

The new North American trade agreement approved by the US Senate on Thursday ensures that automakers will still be able to build pickup trucks in Mexico without facing new punitive tariffs.

Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2020