On Wednesday the Canadian federal and Ontario governments announced they would loan as much as $34 million to Toyota to build the first modern hybrid in Canada, the Lexus RX450h.
The federal funds are to be disbursed from the Automotive Innovation Fund, Ontario’s portion will come from its Strategic Jobs and Investment Fund, and Toyota has agreed to spend $125 million to expand its assembly line.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper noted the occasion saying the country is proud to partner with Toyota, and the auto sector is one of the country’s most significant economic success stories in the past five years.
He said this also marked the first place outside of Japan this hybrid was being built.
“Besides being the first hybrid vehicle assembled in Canada, the RX 450 hybrid has been, up until now, only, and I want to emphasize that, only, built in Japan,” Harper said. “But that’s changing. In a short time, that fuel-efficient vehicle will be assembled right here.”
CBC news observed this was not actually the country’s first hybrid, however. That distinction was taken in 1914 by the Galt Motor Company in Galt, Ont., (now Cambridge, Ont.) – but if we told you the RX450h was the first, would you have known that was technically incorrect?
In any case, Toyota’s plant expansion will also see hiring of around 400 more employees to increase production of the RX 450 by 30,000 vehicles to 104,000. Of these, 15,000 are reported to be the hybrid variety.
This will be around one-fifth of Toyota’s annual vehicle production capacity of a half million units annually in Canada.
The actual terms of the government funding describe it as “repayable contributions.” These, it was noted, are defined as monies loaned whereby the recipient is expected to repay all or part of the amount or where the government expects to receive a financial return.