CHICAGO, Feb. 6, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Toyota today announced it has begun to export U.S.-assembled Highlander SUVs to Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. Highlander exports are initially forecasted at approximately 29,000 units annually. The announcement was made by Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc. Senior Vice President Bob Carter at the Midwest Automotive Media Association's annual breakfast during the Chicago Auto Show.
These Highlander SUVs will be produced by team members at Toyota's manufacturing plant in Princeton, Ind. Representing a $4.2 billion investment, the plant currently employs about 4,500 team members; an additional 200 team members will be hired by year-end to help meet demand. The Princeton plant also produces the Sequoia full-size SUV and Sienna minivan.
These new shipments allow for better utilization of the Indiana plant, and help capitalize on the improving North American and global auto market. In addition to the new jobs created at the Indiana plant, this project increases opportunities and jobs for Toyota's North American supply base.
Toyota began exporting U.S.-assembled vehicles in 1988, and now exports U.S.-assembled vehicles to 32 countries around the world. These exports increased in calendar year 2013 to more than 130,000 units – a 5% increase from 2012 and an all-time high for Toyota.
"We are proud that the U.S.-built Highlander has garnered so much interest not only here, but abroad," said Mr. Carter. "The export of Highlander SUVs to Australia, New Zealand and Eastern Europe helps maintain Toyota's strong, stable base of U.S. jobs, and is the result of the great work of our talented U.S. team members and our extensive investments across North America. We look forward to other opportunities to continue expanding exports from our U.S. operations."
Highlander exports began in late December. Exports to Australia and New Zealand are being shipped from Baltimore, Md. while exports to Eastern Europe are being shipped from Brunswick, Ga.
Toyota, the world's top automaker and creator of the Prius, is committed to building vehicles for the way people live through our Toyota, Lexus and Scion brands. Over the past 50 years, we've built more than 25 million cars and trucks in North America, where we operate 14 manufacturing plants and directly employ nearly 40,000 people. Our 1,800 North American dealerships sold more than 2.5 million cars and trucks in 2013 – and about 80 percent of all Toyota vehicles sold over the past 20 years are still on the road today.
Toyota partners with philanthropic organizations across the country, with a focus on education, safety and the environment. As part of this commitment, we share the company's extensive know-how garnered from building great cars and trucks to help community organizations and other nonprofits expand their ability to do good.
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