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November 1, 2021

Toyota spending $461m on Kentucky plant upgrade

No new jobs but posts more permanent, new equipment and products.

By Graeme Roberts

Toyota Motor announced plans to spend US$461m at its main (and original) US plant in Kentucky to meet shifting customer demand, reduce carbon footprint and advance its future capability, according to a company statement.

The automaker said it would install advanced manufacturing equipment and technologies at Georgetown plant, which was built 35 years ago, designed to speed up production, increase production flexibility and help improve its overall competitiveness.

The investment would also “expand the plant’s ability to manufacture new electric vehicles”, the company said.

It also said there would be no “significant” new jobs as a result of the investment but 1,400 temporary contractors employed through Kelly Services would be offered permanent positions to help it retain talent and provide a more inclusive work environment.

Toyota’s North American product range would be boosted with the introduction of a new 2.4-litre turbo engine at the plant which the company said would further increase flexibility to quickly meet an evolving market.

Susan Elkington, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky (TMMK), said in a statement: “As Toyota’s most experienced assembly plant in the US with a workforce of about 9,000, TMMK must transform physically and strategically to meet the changing needs of customers.”

The plant would continue to focus on Toyota brand models such as the Camry, Camry Hybrid and RAV4 Hybrid while production of the Lexus ES and Lexus ES Hybrid would be transferred back to Japan ahead of the next new model change in 2024 “to help create space for future products and to better align with US market demand”.

Toyota said TMMK’s “transformation” began in 2017 with a US$1.3bn spend to introduce the New Global Architecture manufacturing platform and a new paint operation. Once the new spend is completed in 2025, Toyota’s total investment in TMMK would be US$8.5bn.

Toyota’s Production Engineering Manufacturing Center (PEMC) and the Manufacturing Production Innovation Center (MPIC), which “spearhead mobility transformation initiatives, technologies and advanced processing initiatives” for the company’s 14 North American factories, are also in Georgetown.

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