Forced by the strong Yen that is sapping profits of its most profitable line, Toyota Motor said today that for the first time a Lexus would be built in the United States. The recently revised ES 350 sedan will be assembled at Toyota Motor Manufacturing in Georgetown, Kentucky during 2015.
The Georgetown plant, established in January 1986, is Toyota’s largest manufacturing facility outside of Japan, employing 6,600 people. The plant currently assembles the Toyota Camry, Camry Hybrid, Avalon, Avalon Hybrid and Venza. It also manufactures 4-cylinder and V6 engines.
About 50,000 Lexus vehicles a year will be produced, bringing the plant’s total annual production capacity to more than 550,000 vehicles. It will also be the first time the ES will be assembled outside of Japan. The move will generate 750 new jobs. To support the new dedicated assembly line, Toyota will invest $360 million.
“Lexus was founded in the United States, so it is only fitting that we are bringing the production of luxury sedans for our U.S. customers back to where the brand was born,” said Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Corporation.
During the past 17 months, the Toyota has announced plans to increase production capacity at its plants in Mississippi, Indiana, West Virginia and Canada. The cumulative investment of approximately $2 billion will create more than 4,000 new jobs. Toyota also recently announced executive changes designed to provide regional managers with more local control and a streamlined decision-making structure.
The ES is Lexus’s bestselling sedan, with approximately 58,850 vehicles sold in North America in 2012 — including 56,158 in the U.S. Year-to-date more than16,800 have been sold in the U.S. Projections for Toyota’s production volume at the company’s Kyushu plant in Japan have not changed. The company remains committed to building 3 million vehicles per year in Japan, including Lexus models, as previously announced.