Toyota plant extends Solara production

Toyota's Georgetown manufacturing plant will continue to build the Solara convertible through the end of the year, reversing plans this summer to cut the vehicle.

A Toyota Motor Sales spokesman said Friday that consumers' desire to buy more fuel-efficient vehicles, in light of record-high gas prices, led executives to keep the Solara in production.

The vehicle is rated at 22 miles per gallon in cities and 31 on highways.

In the near future, executives will “take a look at what the next steps might be” for the vehicle, “but nothing's really been decided,” said spokesman Joe Tetherow.

Early this year, executives said Toyota would scrap the vehicle, which was part of the struggling sports car segment, and instead build the new Venza crossover at the plant.

Plant spokesman Rick Hesterberg said the factory will be able to build both the Venza and Solara on the same line, along with the Camry and Camry Hybrids that are also built on the line.

Hesterberg said continuing to build the Solara will allow the plant to keep its its production volume high, avoiding the problems at other automotive plants that have significantly slowed production or cut some altogether because of weak consumer demand.