Toyota's first Sequoia rolled off the line today to mark the beginning of production for the all new, full-sized sport utility vehicle.

Toyota Motor Corporation president Fujio Cho and Indiana Governor Frank O'Bannon were the honorary passengers, as the Sequoia debuted before more than a thousand cheering team members who make the new vehicle alongside the Tundra pick-up truck. Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana (TMMI) is the exclusive manufacturer of both products and currently has combined capacity to produce 150,000 units each year.

TMMI also broke ground today for its expansion plant ­ an $800 million addition which is slated to produce the Sienna minivan beginning in 2003. This will increase plant capacity at the Princeton plant from 150,000 to 300,000 units per year, and is a major part of Toyota's overall plans to increase North American capacity to 1.45 million vehicles.

"Toyota has invested heavily in North America," said Cho at the ceremony. "Global production is crucial to keeping our products cost-competitive in every market. At Toyota, 'global' means localizing production in principal markets."

TMMI currently employs some 2,400 people, and will add another 2,000 when the expansion is complete. Total investment at the Princeton plant will be $2 billion with the additional facility.

With the Sequoia joining the Toyota line-up, total production in North America this year will be more than 1.1 million vehicles.

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