Toyota finishes $1.3 billion update of Indiana factory

January 17, 2020 GMT

PRINCETON, Ind. (AP) — Toyota has completed a $1.3 billion project modernizing an Indiana factory to boost vehicle production and adding 550 jobs, the company announced Friday.

The project at the Princeton assembly plant in southwestern Indiana included retooling, new equipment installation and adding advanced manufacturing technology so it could increase production of the Highlander SUV. Toyota said the project grew by $700 million and 150 new jobs from what it first announced for the factory in early 2017.

Production recently began on the new 2020 Highlander at the factory, which now has about 7,000 employees and also builds Sequoia SUVs and Sienna minivans, according to the company. The plant that opened in 1998 can now build more than 420,000 vehicles a year, up from the 400,000 vehicles it built in 2016 before the modernization project began.

Toyota executives celebrated the project’s completion with a ceremony attended by Gov. Eric Holcomb at the factory about 25 miles north of Evansville.

Some production changes are planned, with Sequoia work being shifted to Toyota’s San Antonio plant in 2022 and the Princeton factory continuing to build mid-size SUVs and minivans.

The company also announced it would spend $1 million on a new program to expose area high school students to advanced manufacturing career options.

Toyota Indiana plant President Leah Curry said the program would give students a potential jump start on job opportunities in the region.