Toyota prepares to build Highlander SUVs in the U.S.

Posted by: Peter Coy on July 06

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Toyota Motor Corp. has nearly completed a half-billion-dollar retooling of a plant in Princeton, Ind., so it can begin manufacturing Highlander SUVs there starting in October. The plan was announced about a year ago, and was featured today in a Bloomberg news-service story based on a financial filing by Toyota.

The fact that Toyota went ahead with the costly retooling even after auto sales in general sagged is a mark of the company’s long-term optimism, says Mike Goss, a spokesman for Toyota’s manufacturing operations in the U.S. The Highlander, which is currently imported from Japan, will be made on the same line at the Indiana plant as the Sequoia, another SUV model.

“We prefer to build high-volume vehicles where we sell them. Long-term we think this is the best decision for us,” Goss said.

Another U.S. manufacturing investment program is still on hold. Toyota built a factory building in Mississippi to build the Prius but hasn’t equipped it yet, and has no timetable for doing so, Goss says.

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BusinessWeek’s Joe Weber, Patricia O'Connell, Michelle Conlin, Frederik Balfour, Peter Coy, Greg Spielberg and Roger Crockett examine The Case for Optimism by looking past the financial turmoil and economic unrest gripping the globe to focus on the promising future that lies on the other side of this storm. We’ll chronicle the forward thinkers investing in R&D, launching promising new products, entering new markets, or implementing management and leadership.

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