Toyota has announced that it will be exporting U.S.-assembled Highlander SUV models to Australia and New Zealand. The automaker will also be shipping the U.S.-assembled vehicles to Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. Highlander exports are initially forecasted at approximately 29,000 units annually.
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, according to the automaker. In addition to the new jobs created at the Indiana plant, this project increases opportunities and jobs for Toyota’s North American supply base.
“We are proud that the U.S.-built Highlander has garnered so much interest not only here, but abroad,” said Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Senior Vice President Bob 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.”
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 percent increase from 2012 and an all-time high for Toyota.
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.