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Toyota Makes Ann Arbor Investment

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Toyota VP Bob Carter (Toyota photo)

Toyota VP Bob Carter (Toyota photo)

jeffgilbert Jeff Gilbert
Automotive reporter for WWJ Newsradio 950 and CBS Radio News....
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DETROIT (WWJ) – Toyota is adding to its technical facilities in the Detroit area.

“We’re announcing today that Toyota will invest an additional $28 million to expand our powertrain R and D in Ann Arbor,” said Toyota vice president Bob Carter, speaking to the Automotive Press Association. “That additional 28 million dollar expansion will create an additional 60 new jobs in this area.”

Toyota has two technical facilities near Ann Arbor that currently employ about 1200 workers.

The investment will help Toyota in its development of new powertrains, specifically in the area of design, calibration and evaluation.

“An expansion of this magnitude takes good team work with local partnerships,” said Simon Nagata, president of Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America, Inc. “Our friends at Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Ann Arbor SPARK and Ann Arbor Township have been at the table with us to make this expansion possible.”

While Toyota has no manufacturing facilities in Michigan, the company has been doing most of its product development in this area. The new Avalon mid-size car and the upcoming redone Tundra pickup were both engineered locally.

“Toyota is a global leader in the automotive industry and its growth in Michigan is welcome news for all of us,” Governor Rick Snyder said. “Toyota’s commitment strongly signals that Michigan offers an improved climate for increased business investment. We welcome this very positive decision.”

Like most manufacturers, Toyota has been in expansion mode. In the past 20 months, the company has invested about $2 billion in its North American facilities, and added more than four thousand new jobs.

Toyota currently builds about 70 percent of the vehicles it sells in North America, in this region. Carter says he’d like to see that percentage grow.

“The only major volume vehicle that we continue to import is the Prius,” said Carter. “No announcements today, but sometime within our lifetime, we’d like to see nearly everything we sell built here.”

Toyota’s expected to update the Prius for the 2015 model year.

Carter wouldn’t comment on reports that Toyota is going to update its Camry mid-size car sooner than expected. Camry has been the best-selling car in America for 12 consecutive year, and is expected to retain that title this year.

However, it’s facing more mid-size competition, and Ford now has the capacity to build more Fusion’s.

Carter says the sales crown is important to Toyota.

“It’s a validation that in the largest segment in the industry, mid-size sedan, it’s important for us to be America’s favorite car.”

Connect with Jeff Gilbert
Email: jdgilbert@cbs.com
Twitter: @jefferygilbert
Facebook: facebook.com/carchronicles

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