Toyota on Wednesday (2 February) said it had reached the 15 million mark in North American production.

The milestone comes after 20 years of manufacturing in North America, supported by a US$16bn investment.

Toyota now has 12 vehicle manufacturing, powertrain, and components facilities in North America, and has two more under construction - in San Antonio, Texas and Woodstock, Ontario, Canada.

Ten vehicle model lines are manufactured in the US and Canada - Avalon, Camry, Corolla, Matrix, Sequoia, Sienna, Solara, Tacoma and Tundra, and the Lexus RX330 SUV. Canadian RAV4 production begins in Ontario in 2008.

Toyota began by selling Toyopet Crown models in North America in 1957 and started parts manufacture in California in 1972.

In 1986 the automaker expanded its operations to make cars in a joint venture with General Motors at New United Motor Manufacturing (NUMMI) in Fremont, California. This plant originally built Corollas for Toyota and Geo Prizm derivatives for GM.

Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, the main Camry plant, began operations in 1988.

The automaker now directly employs 27,000 manufacturing workers an additional 95,000 supplier jobs are dedicated to its operations.

By 2008, Toyota will have the annual capacity to build 1.83 million cars and trucks, 1.44 million engines, and 600,000 automatic transmissions in North America.