Toyota to Shift More Highlander Production to Indiana

Most 2010 Toyota Highlanders sold in North America are manufactured in the United States, but a few are still manufactured in and imported from Japan. That soon will change, as all non-hybrid Highlanders bound for North America will ultimately be manufactured in Indiana.

Toyota started producing the Highlander at its facility in Princeton, Indiana, last October, but has since imported some 1165 examples of the crossover from its factory in Kyushu, Japan. The Japanese-built vehicles account for roughly 17 percent of all Highlanders sold in the first four months of 2010. Toyota -- along with other foreign automakers -- has begun to shift more North American production to the continent as volatile exchange rates have thinned or killed profit margins.

Toyota won't disclose when the production shift will occur, but it will likely complete the production adjustment by the end of August. No finite figures are given, but we estimate roughly 8200 Highlanders will roll off the line on a monthly basis, a substantial increase over the current production rate of 7000 vehicles per month.

Highlander Hybrids, however, won't be built in Indiana. Production of the gasoline-electric hybrid crossovers will remain in Japan, as Toyota reportedly prefers to keep complicated manufacturing close to home.

Source: Automotive News (subscription required)

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