NEW YORK Toyota Motor
Corp. will invest $360 million at its Georgetown, Ky., plant in
a move that for the first time will allow it to begin
assembling the Lexusits best-selling ES 350
sedanoutside of Japan.
"The decision is in line with
two key goals: first, to serve our customers, and second, to
reduce the effects of the exchange rates on our customers,"
Toyota president Akio Toyoda said in a statement April 19.
Toyota expects to produce about
50,000 Lexus vehicles annually on a new dedicated assembly line
at the Georgetown plant, Toyotas largest manufacturing
facility outside Japan.
The plantwhich currently
assembles the Toyota Camry, Camry Hybrid, Avalon, Avalon Hybrid
and Venza, as well as manufactures four-cylinder and V6
enginesis scheduled to start production of the luxury
sedan in 2015.
Last year, the Toyota City,
Japan-based company sold more than 56,000 Lexus ES 350s in the
Meanwhile, the American-made content of many of the
companys vehicles continues to rise, James E. Lentz,
chief executive officer of Toyota North America Region and
president and chief operating officer of Toyota Motor North
America Inc., said. He noted that 90 percent of the parts and
materials that go into the Toyota Camry and Avalon are sourced
from local suppliers. Other locally built models average about
75-percent North American content, he said.