PRINCETON, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Another major investment is coming to the Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana plant in Gibson County. The automaker says it will invest more than $800 million to add two electric vehicles to its production line at the Princeton facility, and create 1,400 jobs by the end of 2023. The new, three-row SUVs to be produced include models from Toyota and Lexus, and the company says the investment will also support employee training, as well as re-tooling at supplier facilities.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, TMMI President Leah Curry said the decision to make the investment in Princeton shows the confidence the company has on the facility’s employees.
“We don’t make these decisions lightly. There’s a lot of study that goes into not only two new products that are going to be three-row SUVs, and a brand new one, Toyota and Lexus. But also, you know, the investment amount and hiring 1,400 new team members that takes a lot of study and a lot of effort by many people to, to be able to make this type of investment in our future,” said Curry.
The company recently launched the 2021 Sienna minivan from the plant, which Curry says validates what the plant is able to do.
“They know they can see that our capability was there, our heart was there, our passion is there. And you know, and our workforce is up for the challenge,” said Curry.
Production of the new vehicles is expected to begin in mid-to-late 2023. Ted Ogawa, chief executive officer of Toyota Motor North America, says the investment will allow the automaker to expand its global portfolio to around 70 models by 2025 while also continuing work with electrification.
The Princeton plant currently employs nearly 7,300 Hoosiers and has begun filling production positions.
The investment marks the third major expansion at the facility in the last four years. Combined with previous projects in 2017 and 2020, Toyota has invested more than $2.1 billion in Gibson County and committed to creating nearly 2,000 jobs in that time frame.
“Toyota has been an incredible partner to the state of Indiana for nearly 25 years, and we’re thrilled to continue that partnership in order to drive our economy forward,” Governor Eric Holcomb said in a news release. “Indiana is proud to be home to the highest concentration of manufacturing jobs in the nation, while providing a skilled workforce that is contributing to the success of companies across a variety of industries. I can’t thank Toyota enough for the role they play in the strength of our manufacturing sector.”
TMMI currently manufactures the Highlander and Highlander Hybrid models, as well as the Toyota Sienna and Sequoia. The company says it assembles more than 420,000 vehicles annually and the new electric vehicles will put it one step closer to its goal of being carbon neutral by 2050.
Curry says production of the Sequoia is moving to Texas, creating space at the Princeton plant for the electric vehicle lines.
“We’re going be retooling. And the footprint itself won’t get a lot bigger, because as we’re trying to aim towards carbon neutrality. You know, we’re trying to make things more simple and slim and modular so that we can be very flexible, and we can make different types of vehicles in the same place,” said Curry.
The Indiana Economic Development Corp. plans to offer TMMI up to $14 million in conditional tax credits, which the company will not be eligible to claim until Hoosier workers are hired for the new jobs and capital investments are made. The incentives still require approval from the IEDC Board of Directors.