Toyota has officially started RAV4 SUV production at its new plant in Woodstock, Ontario, its second in Canada.

TMC president Katsuaki Watanabe said: “We started production in nearby Cambridge 20 years ago, and the Woodstock plant reflects our continuing commitment to Canada.”

The plant cost about C$1.1bn and is the first to build the RAV4 outside Japan. Cambridge was the first plant to build a Lexus model – the RX350 SUV – outside of Japan.

Operating on one shift, Woodstock has annual production capacity of 75,000 units.

TMC has sold 1.25m RAV4s in North America since it was launched there in 1996, several years after being rolled out in Japan and other markets.

Woodstock was originally designed to build 150,000 RAV4s a year on two shifts but Toyota said last September it would run at half that rate indefinitely due to the sales slowdown in North America.

It had planned to start the second shift next spring.