As part of its corporate plan to move more vehicle production overseas, Toyota has announced it will be shifting assembly of its Highlander Hybrid to Princeton, Indiana by mid 2013.
The move comes as Japan’s largest automaker attempts to minimize the impact of currency fluctuations, which are not only eating into profits at home but making it increasingly difficult to export vehicles while maintaining competitive prices.
Toyota’s North American president and chief operating officer, Yoshi Inaba, who made the announcement at the 2012 Chicago Auto Show, said that by moving Highlander production to Indiana, the company will create an additional 400 jobs at the Princeton plant, with possibly 1,000 to 1,500 positions added via outside suppliers and contractors.
Not surprisingly, is represents welcome news for the U.S., which is still struggling with a sputtering economy and relatively high rates of unemployment.
In addition, Toyota says it plans to boost export orders from its North American plants, including Highlander Hybrids (currently the company is exporting Camry sedans and Sienna minivans to South Korea).
Inaba’s remarks have led some to speculate whether Prius production might migrate stateside as well, as Toyota attempts to take advantage of the weak U.S. dollar.
Although a plan to start US Prius production several years ago at Toyota’s Tupelo, Mississippi plant fell through when fuel prices fell and the economy tanked, Inaba has said he isn’t ruling it out, stating the concept of an American made Prius “is always on our mind, when we consider when and where to localize it.”