Toyota Invests $600 Million In the Heartland, Verifies Its Loyalty

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Toyota is planning a $600 million expansion of its Princeton, Indiana assembly plant to enhance production capacity and modernize the factory for the next-generation Highlander.

The company’s financial commitment underscores Toyota’s new and carefully domesticated image while serving to remind everyone that its cars are built in America for Americans — not unlike the company’s red, white, and blue display cars at this year’s North American International Auto Show.

“This announcement shows Toyota’s commitment to continued U.S. investment,” the company said in its official announcement. “This expansion is part of Toyota’s localization strategy to build vehicles where they are sold.”

It is difficult to blame Toyota for wearing its patriotism on its sleeve. President Donald Trump spent much of this week suggesting the imposition of tariffs on imported vehicles, and had previously criticized Toyota for its presence in Mexico. The company’s Tijuana factory, which produces the immensely popular Tacoma pickup truck, is currently undergoing a multi-million dollar expansion.

The large U.S. investment will supposedly secure 400 American jobs and, according to Toyota, improve the plant’s annual capacity by a full 40,000 units. Along with the Highlander, the Sequoia SUV and Sienna minivan will also be produced in Princeton.

Over 400,000 units rolled out of the Indiana-based plant last year, the highest in its twenty year history. Likewise, the Highlander had its best year on record with 204,343 units sold in North America, and sales of midsize crossover have been climbing steadily since 2013.

[Image: Toyota]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Ronnie Schreiber Ronnie Schreiber on Jan 24, 2017

    The president has limited powers over businesses (see Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer) but it will be interesting to see how effective presidential jawboning can be when it comes to investments in factories. For the most part, I think that Isaac Singer and Henry Ford demonstrated that exporting has its limits and that producing goods in the markets where you sell them can be more profitable.

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    • Pmirp1 Pmirp1 on Jan 25, 2017

      Ronnie agreed completely. In the case of Toyota they are building a profitable expensive truck in Tacoma for American market in Mexico. They can't even hide behind the fact that is a cheap compact. This is all about making most profit

  • Vulpine Vulpine on Jan 24, 2017

    That has got to be one of the ugliest front ends I have ever seen; it makes a baleen whale majestic and a shark sleek by comparison. Bring that splitter line up about 8 inches and turn it into a cosmetic bumper and it would look better, but still have an ugly, gaping, 'mouth'. I won't be buying a Toyota, EVER, as long as they look like this.

  • LS1Fan LS1Fan on Jan 24, 2017

    The President -regardless of party- has little to do with economic success or failure of the nation. The real credit rests with the boring federal agency that is the Department of the Treasury , and the Federal Reserve. Insofar as tariffs go, all that will do is incentivize the prestige of imported cars again.

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    • Highdesertcat Highdesertcat on Jan 24, 2017

      gtemnykh, sorry about the delayed response -- had people drop in on me unexpectedly. I'm surprised that Americans have settled for all this decontenting and cheapening of the materials used in their cars. As someone who drove the US domestic brands for decades earlier in my life, I made a conscious choice to switch over to the Toyota brand. And I have not been disappointed. We are an all-Toyota all-the-time family these days but I have no illusions or delusions that North American built Toyota products are any better than the competition. I found the Japan-built versions much better. I simply cannot afford better-made cars, so I chose to buy the brand I had the best luck with-- Toyota.

  • Sam Hall Sam Hall on Jan 25, 2017

    So it's only Bark's politics that we're keeping off the site. Got it. Yes, I realize Toyota's promoting its US production is legitimately car-related news, but the characterization as "showing loyalty" is a political one, just a day after the big-deal post about how politics isn't appropriate TTAC content.