Toyota has broken ground for its second plant in Canada, the first new “greenfield” automotive plant in the country in almost 20 years.

Announced in June, the Woodstock plant will be managed by TMMC in Cambridge, Ontario.

It opens in 2008 after a $C800 million/ $US650 million investment and will emply 1,300 to build up to 100,000 units a year of the RAV4 sport utility vehicle.

TMMC employs 4,300 at Cambridge where it assembles the Corolla, Matrix and Lexus RX330.

North America accounts for 30% of Toyota’s worldwide sales.

Officials cited three reasons for selecting Woodstock: accessibility to suppliers, the success of the Cambridge plant operated since 1988 and support from Canadian national, provincial and local governments.

Site preparation began last month; foundation work is scheduled for next March and steel erection is set to begin in June. The building will be enclosed by the following winter with equipment installation scheduled for 2007.

By 2008, Toyota will have annual capacity for 1.81 million cars and trucks, 1.44 million engines and 600,000 automatic transmissions in North America.