Toyota’s Georgetown plant will build the hybrid Rav4 crossover SUV and the hybrid Lexus ES in a $238 million new investment, company officials revealed Thursday.
The Georgetown plant additions are part of $750 million in new investment in production in five states.
Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky was already Toyota’s largest vehicle plant in the world, capable of making 550,000 vehicles and 600,000 engines annually, according to the company.
“Today’s exciting announcement shows Toyota’s recognition and continued trust in the high-level skills and expertise of our fantastic team here in Kentucky,” said Toyota Kentucky President Susan Elkington. “The production changes announced today are centered upon our commitment to meet changing customer desires by diversifying the types of products our team members build here in Georgetown.“
The Lexus ES 300h hybrid will begin production in May with an annual capacity of 12,000 vehicles. The Rav4 hybrid will be made starting in January 2020 with an annual capacity of 100,000 vehicles, Toyota said.
“We are especially grateful that workers in Central Kentucky will not only benefit from the strong consumer market for SUVs by producing the RAV4 Hybrid starting in January 2020 but also from the Lexus ES 300 Hybrid production this year,” U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said in prepared remarks.
Toyota currently manufactures the Camry, Avalon, Lexus ES 350, Camry hybrid and Avalon hybrid at the Georgetown facility. Four-cylinder and V-6 engines are also built at the site.
The plant was built as Toyota’s first “wholly-owned vehicle manufacturing plant” in the United States. The first Camry came off the line in May 1988, and in 2016, the operation celebrated its 30-year anniversary since ground was broken at the site.
Now, more than 8,000 workers are employed at the roughly 8 million-square-foot facility on more than 1,300 acres.
In 2017, Toyota announced it was putting $1.33 billion in the Georgetown plant to upgrade to Toyota’s New Global Architecture, which uses the same underlying platform across groups of vehicles while the upper vehicle bodies differ by models.
The company got millions in state tax incentives when it upgraded the plant for the new process. At the time, the average total hourly compensation for jobs at the plant was $45.47 — more than $90,000 a year for 40 hours of work a week,, according to state documents.
The entire plant was a $7 billion investment, the company said before Thursday’s announcement.
In addition to the changes in Georgetown, Toyota’s plans also include:
- $288 million for increasing annual engine capacity at Toyota’s Huntsville, Ala., facility. The plant will add 450 jobs to accommodate new four-cylinder and V6 engine production lines. Last year Toyota and Mazda announced plans to build a $1.6 billion joint-venture plant in Huntsville that will eventually employ about 4,000 people.
- $62 million on equipment to boost production of Toyota and Lexus cylinder heads at Toyota’s Bodine Aluminum facility in Troy, Mo..
- $50 million to expand and upgrade equipment at a Bodine plant in Jackson, Tenn. That will add 13 jobs and produce engine blocks while doubling the capacity of hybrid transaxle cases and housings.
- $111 million for equipment and expansion of a plant in Buffalo, W. Va., to double the capacity of hybrid transaxles. That would create 123 jobs
Previously, Toyota also announced a $600 million investment at its Princeton, Ind., plant to increase the capacity of its Highlander SUV and global architecture. There was also $170 million targeted to launch the 2020 Corolla on a new production line in Blue Springs, Miss.
“These latest investments represent even more examples of our long-term commitment to build where we sell,” Jim Lentz, chief executive officer for Toyota Motor North America said Thursday in a written statement.