Toyota to Invest $1.3 Billion in Kentucky Plant

Toyota to Invest $1.3 Billion in Kentucky Plant

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Toyota’s plant in Georgetown, Ky., in 2015. The company announced a $1.3 billion investment in the plant on Monday.

Credit
Joseph Rey Au/Toyota

DETROIT — In the latest move by a major automaker to enhance its American manufacturing operations, Toyota said on Monday that it would invest more than $1.3 billion to upgrade its assembly plant in Kentucky.

The announcement follows a push by President Trump for auto companies to expand in the United States, and it follows similar actions by General Motors, Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler.

The investment will not add jobs at Toyota’s plant in Georgetown, Ky., but a company spokesman, Scott Vazin, said the investment “solidifies its commitment” to manufacturing vehicles in the United States.

Asked if Mr. Trump’s policies played a role in the decision, Mr. Vazin said, “No, but we do share his goal of growing the economy and jobs in the U.S.”

The Georgetown plant is Toyota’s largest in the world, and it employs 8,200 people. Last year, it added 700 employees to support the introduction of a version of the Camry sedan, its top-selling vehicle.

Toyota said the new investment would cut the time needed to develop new models and would improve manufacturing flexibility so that the company can quickly respond to changes in demand.

The company also released a statement from Mr. Trump endorsing the move. “Toyota’s decision to invest $1.3 billion in their Kentucky plant is further evidence that manufacturers are now confident that the economic climate has greatly improved under my administration,” the president said in the statement.

Mr. Trump has taken a keen interest in the auto industry, both during his presidential campaign and in the first months of his administration.

While he has criticized auto companies, including Toyota, for investing in Mexican factories that supply vehicles to the United States, he has also pledged to cut regulations to encourage the expansion of American manufacturing facilities.

The president recently ordered the federal government to reopen a review of fuel-economy rules for new vehicles.

Automakers had requested the move after the Obama administration finalized standards that called for companies to achieve an average corporate fuel economy of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

Toyota said its investment in Kentucky would be spread over three years and would introduce a new product development and manufacturing process that shortens vehicle development cycles.

“This $1.33 billion investment is part of Toyota’s plan to invest $10 billion in the U.S. over the next five years, on top of the nearly $22 billion Toyota has invested in the U.S. over the past 60 years,” said James E. Lentz, chief executive of Toyota Motor North America.

Of vehicles sold in the United States, the Camry is considered to have the most American-produced parts, and it has been the nation’s top-selling passenger car for more than a decade.

The auto industry is coming off two consecutive years of record annual sales in the United States. Sales have begun to slip slightly so far this year, however, and dropped 1.6 percent in March compared with the same period in 2016.

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