Toyota Motor Corp. announced it will shift more of its production for the Highlander SUV to its Indiana assembly plant as part of a plan by the automaker to localize the vehicle’s manufacturing and limit exposure to foreign exchange losses on imports.
Production of the Highlander SUV in Indiana began last fall, but the company continued to import vehicles from its Toyota manufacturing facility in Kyushu, Japan which amounted to 17 per cent of the total number of Highlanders sold in the United States over the last four months through April of this year. The move by Toyota will mean that some 2,000 Highlander SUV a month will be manufactured in the Indiana plant.
“This is part of our continuing trend to build more product where we sell,” said Paul Nolasco spokesman for Toyota. By reducing imports and building more vehicles in the United States, the world’s biggest automaker is able to lessen the blow it takes from rapidly fluctuating foreign exchange rates.
U.S. sales of the Highlander were up 24 percent to 27,072 units in the first four months of 2010.