Toyota will expand its Buffalo plant to make gears for automatic transmissions produced there, transferring the work from Japan.

The 184,000-square-foot expansion at Toyota West Virginia will mean an additional $US80 million investment in the facility, plus 50 new jobs, taking total investment at the plant to over $800 million and employment to more than 1,000 people.

The plant first began production in 1998, when its sole product was four-cylinder engines for the Corolla. Now it builds powertrains for six different vehicle models and supplies all four North American vehicle assembly plants.

Its current products are four cylinder engines for the Corolla and Matrix; V6s for the Sienna and Lexus RX330; and automatic transmissions for the North American-built Camry, Solara, Lexus RX330 and Sienna. Gear production, currently done at a Toyota facility in Japan, will begin in Buffalo in 2006.

This is the fourth expansion for the plant since operations began in 1996. The plant’s capacity is 540,000 engines and 360,000 automatic transmissions per year.