Toyota investing $374M in US to build hybrid SUV

Toyota investing $374M in US to build hybrid SUV
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Toyota is investing $374 million in five manufacturing plants in the U.S. to help build its new Highlander hybrid SUV, the automaker announced Tuesday.

The Japanese company said the new investments will help support Toyota’s “first American-made hybrid powertrain.”

The money will be funneled toward plants in Kentucky, West Virginia, Missouri, Tennessee and Alabama. Each of the projects is scheduled to begin this year, and should be operational in 2020, Toyota added.

"This latest wave of investment represents our efforts to localize production of hybrid powertrains to the U.S.," said Jeff Moore, Toyota’s senior vice president of manufacturing. "Hybrid is a core Toyota technology and localization reflects the company's confidence in the capability and global competitiveness of our North American manufacturing."

In January, Toyota pledged to expand production and invest $10 billion in the U.S. The latest round of investments brings Toyota nearly halfway, or $4.1 billion, toward that commitment.

"This investment is part of our long-term commitment to build more vehicles and components in the markets in which we sell them," Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota Motor North America, said on Tuesday. "This strategy is designed to better serve our customers and dealers and positions our manufacturing operations to fulfill their needs well into the future."

Several foreign automakers have promised to boost investment, production and jobs in the U.S. as President Trump and his administration renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.