Toyota to invest $10 bil. in U.S. over 5 years

DETROIT — Toyota Motor Corp. will spend $10 billion in U.S. capital investments over the next five years, President Akio Toyoda announced Jan. 9, under an arrangement the automaker says predates U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s threat to penalize it for plans to produce cars for the American market in Mexico.

Toyoda made the announcement during a news conference at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit as the Japanese auto giant unveiled its redesigned 2018 Camry model.

“The Camry has been one of the reasons why we’ve invested $22 billion in the U.S. over the last 60 years and why we will invest another 10 billion here in just the next five years alone,” he said.

“We are deeply grateful for the millions of customers who made Camry the number one best-selling car in America for the last 15 years,” Toyoda said.

The announcement came after Trump threatened Jan. 5 to impose heavy taxes on Toyota if the automaker goes ahead with its plan to produce Corolla cars for the United States in Mexico.

“Toyota Motor said will build a new plant in…Mexico, to build Corolla cars for U.S. NO WAY! Build plant in U.S. or pay big border tax,” Trump said in a post on Twitter.

Toyota’s North America Chief Executive Jim Lentz reportedly said Jan. 9 the automaker’s new U.S. investments were not in response to Trump’s remarks but were part of its business strategy.

The new Mexican plant will take over production of Corolla passenger cars from Ontario, Canada, which from 2019 will produce midsize, higher-value vehicles instead as Toyota realigns its North American production to reinforce its competitiveness in the region.

In response to Trump’s tweet, Toyota said Jan. 5 that neither production volume nor employment in the United States will decline because of its planned Mexican facility.

“With more than $21.9 billion direct investment in the U.S., 10 manufacturing facilities, 1,500 dealerships and 136,000 employees, Toyota looks forward to collaborating with the Trump administration to serve in the best interests of consumers and the automotive industry,” it added.

Since his election in November, Trump has been touting his “America First” economic agenda by pressing companies to keep jobs and production in the United States. He won such key industrial states as Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania with promises of protecting jobs.

Finance Minister Taro Aso said in a news conference Jan. 10, “I doubt whether the president-elect has an accurate grasp of how many cars Toyota makes in the United States.”

As for other carmakers, Nissan Motor Co. Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn told reporters at the show in Detroit Jan. 9,“Whatever it is, we will adapt,” while Honda Motor Co. President Takahiro Hachigo said the same day his company does not plan to change its current investment strategy.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. said Jan. 8 it will increase its production capacity in the United States and add an additional 2,000 jobs.

Ford Motor Co. said earlier this month it canceled a plan to build a new factory in Mexico.

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